Flow Control Solenoid Valves

Posted on 11th June 2013 in Products, solenoids

So what’s the difference between an ordinary solenoid valve and one with flow control?

 

flowcontrol

 

 

Basically its the large ‘dial’ in the middle that you can turn to adjust the rate at which water flows thru the valve. You may choose to use one of these if you have a small station and do not want you retic operating at full capacity.

For example some people have a small veggie patch that needs some very specific watering. Rather than adding the veggies patch to the lawn station or to other garden beds they would irrigate it separately. In that instance it may be necessary to reduce the flow and use this type of valve.

Any alternative is to use an inline tap to reduce to flow.

Spring Reticulation Service in Perth

Posted on 17th August 2012 in Repairs

On September 1 we can all switch our retic back on.

Inevitably that is the time when you discover that it isn’t working quite the way you hope it should. If that is the case and your retic needs servicing then give us a call on 0400044236 and we can book you in.

The spring and early summer months are always flat out so beat the rush and get in asap!

 

What is the Best Type of Sprinkler?

Posted on 22nd February 2012 in Installations, sprinklers

A lot of people ask me what the best sprinklers are, and the answer is that it depends on the job it needs to do.

Here are some pros and cons of various types of sprinklers:

Standard Toro/Rainbird pop-ups:  are good sprinklers in that distribute a lot of water in a short space of time and they are cheap and easy to replace. If well maintained the sprinkler body and seals can easily last 5 years. Their negative is that their spray can mist and get easily blown by the wind.

Gear Drives – Gear drives are tough and are generally used over larger areas or where there may be traffic expected. You wouldn’t use gear drives in smaller lawn areas as they are really suited to areas 8m and larger. You can generally only get 3 gear drives/station off suburban pressure, but if you have a rectangular backyard then these could suit. They are more expensive than the standard pop-up, but you will use fewer of them.

MP Rotators – These are nozzles that slot inside regular sprinkler bodies. They distribute water slowly and allow better penetration. They can also span large areas and an entire front lawn can often be done on one station because of their low water requirements. Their negative is that they are expensive and if you have a bore they will result in your pump running for longer.

Impact Sprinklers – these are the classic old ‘machine gun’ types that pump out a heap of water over a very long distance and have an adjustable arc. These aren’t pretty because they need to sit above surface level but they can cover a huge area so if you are tight on $$ and want to do the job cheaply one of these in each corner might just get you by.

 

Why Does My Solenoid Stay Open?

Posted on 22nd October 2011 in solenoids

If you have a solenoid that stays on with all of the other stations then 9 times out of 10 it is your diaphragm that is playing up. First check that you haven’t accidentally placed it in the ‘on’ position, then check that the small screw for flushing is done up tight. If these are all ok and there are no visible leaks then its usually the diaphragm.

This is the rubber piece in the middle of the solenoid and allows water to flow or blocks its flow. For some solenoids eg Richdel you can probably head down to your local retic shop, grab a new diaphragm and change it over. Other solenoids aren’t quite so easy and you may need to replace the whole unit.

If you are buying a solenoid then I recommend the jar top variety which you can screw on and off rather than the solenoids where stainless screws are used to join the two halves together. In my experience the solenoids that are screwed together are harder to separate and rejoin. Bits of dirt can get in between the surfaces, the gasket can break and it can just be  messier getting it all to line up again.

 

 

My Retic Doesn’t make Sense

Posted on 21st October 2011 in solenoids

Occasionally retic does weird stuff.

The good news is that being a ‘closed system’ there are only so many variables that can go wrong. If you have an analytical mind then you can solve most problems by a process of deduction.

Yesterday I went to see a client whose retic had come on and wouldn’t go off. They had been on holidays when this happened so they came home to huge water bill.

The logical answer is that both the master valve and the station valve had failed and stuck open simultaneously allowing water thru. But what are the chances of that? I’d be guessing one in a million so I started by testing the control box to see if there were any issues there.

Nope.

By turning the valves on and off manually I was able to detect that all 3 of the clients solenoids were faulty. The fault was intermitent, but it was there. The end result was 3 new solenoids and no more problems.

 

 

My Reticulation has Lost Pressure

Posted on 11th October 2011 in bore, Repairs

Ok so you have noticed a drop in pressure on your sprinklers.

Believe it or not the first place to check is your water meter. Make sure someone hasn’t turned the pressure down here. It happens… I have no idea why people do it but that’s the first test.

Then check and see if it is on just one station or on all.

If its ‘all’ then you have a break in your mainline – that’s the 25ml or 40ml main pipe that feeds to the solenoids. This should show up in a large puddle of water somewhere.  You may need to leave it on for a while if its just a small crack as it will take a while for it to show through.

If its just one station then you will have either a broken pipe in the line or a broken riser.

 

Check for pooling around the sprinklers as that will indicate a riser problem. If you can move the sprinkler then its likely the riser is broken. If not then you will need to check the line for cracks and breaks. This can be a long tedious process as you will need to locate the break and sometimes its not obvious.

A small crack can result in a significant pressure drop but can be a pain to find.

Here’s one my father worked on recently. His pressure on this one station dropped significantly and he ended up having to trace the line until he found the problem – a joint that had cracked.

 

If you have a drop in pressure then the only solution is to keep looking till you find it – or call us and we will look for you!

 

 

In My Own Backyard – Sleeper Retaining Walls

Posted on 6th September 2011 in In My Own Backyard, What's Going on There?

When we bought the house we were aware that some of the retaining walls were around 20 years ago and had either completely fallen over or were in need of repair.

We were faced with the choice of doing it all again in limestone blocks or rebuilding the sleeper walls. In a perfect world with endless $$ we would have chosen limestone, simply because of its permanence. But limestone was going to cost around $20K installed and sleepers around $1500 (if I did the work). To DIY with limestone it was going to be around $4K but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it alone with the size blocks required. The rest of the house is also timber and we liked the look of the sleeper walls so we thought we’d give it a shot and assume we would get at least 10 years out of the sleepers if not 20-30.

 

So began the process of building..

I had never built a retaining wall before so it was a new learning curve and as usual google made it easier. I researched the how tos of sleeper walls and then set a line and started digging holes. It is’t rocket science – just a bit of hard work.

The key with the holes is to make sure the post is at least the same depth in the ground as the height of the wall. My wall was going to be 900ml at its highest point so I made sure my holes were 1m deep. I used a long handle spade to get the sand out and while it was a little tricky towards the bottom I managed to get all the holes quite deep by scraping the sand and then levering it up.

Digging was the easy bit. Then came moving the sleepers…

They are 50kgs so not that heavy, but when you need to get them in a specific place and you are working alone it is a little tricky. I slid them onto the top of my wheelbarrow and moved them as far as I could by that means before lifting them into place. Once in place I used one bag of rapid-set around the base and then once set packed the holes with bricks to add strength. I only used one bag of concrete in case the posts need to be removed in the future. It was hard to get some of the original posts out minus concrete so I figured using 4 bags / hole might mean they never move, but it would also require some serious machinery to get them out once they rot.

Some of my reading suggested leaning the posts in towards the wall 2-5 degrees and allowing the wall to adjust the posts as it settled. However I had seen a neighbour’s wall where this methodology had been applied and his hadn’t settled (after 20 years) so I figured I would gamble on a perfectly pependicular wall and resolve the lean problem at a later date if it happened.

I placed the posts in, did the checks with the spirit level and allowed the posts to set in place. I used a piece of 2.1m pipe as a guide to mark the centres of the posts as a set of sleepers would be resting on either side of the posts. I actually managed to drop one post in the wrong place and pour in the concrete before realising and then needed to get it out of the hole. Not recommended… It was a real struggle getting that sleeper back out.

However once the posts are set in place the rest is just grunt work and some levelling. I dropped the first horizontal into place, got it level  and then dropped another 3 on top. The wall stepped down towards the rear of the property so I made those adjustments as I went.

Once all the horizontals were in place I began to fill the area behind the wall with the bricks and rubble that had been left lying around the yard. I figured it would help drainage and also clean the place up – double win.

The finished product looks really good. Its got a great rustic feel and it ties in with the rest of the house. Even better it took me a whole 2 days of time working alone from go to whoa. I think limestone would have taken a lot longer.

We bought the sleepers from Mountain Movers in Burswood and got the 7ft ‘A Grade’ variety at $23.00/sleeper plus $80.00 delivery. As far as building materials go they aren’t cheap and it would have been almost as economical to build the wall out of concrete sleepers – except without the rustic look.

So we’re guessing they will be good for 20-30 years which is how long the originals lasted, but of course white ants could change that fairly quickly.

This weekend should see the completion of the retaining and then its on to getting the levels sorted, before reticulation goes in.

 

 

 

 

 

Great Gardening Info

Posted on 5th September 2011 in Garden beds, General

My friend James Middleton at Aussiegreenthumb is a legendary gardener and a fount of information when it comes to anything in our backyard.

This month he is running a series of blogs entitled 30 Days to a Better Garden. He’s only up to day 5 so its not too late to catch up and follow the whole series.

How Much Does it Cost to Set a Reticulation Controller

Posted on 1st September 2011 in Controllers

 

Before I got into retic I used to get my wife to do this… so if you find it difficult then know you’re not alone!

These days I can set most controllers quickly and easily so its a case of having a minimum charge. For local suburbs (anywhere north of Hester Ave) I charge $35.00, but for other areas it is a minimum fee of $65 + GST.

 

 

Fixing a Leaky Solenoid

Posted on 18th June 2011 in Repairs, solenoids

If you have a station that stays running then you have a leaky solenoid. Simple as that.

You can fix it by removing the whole solenoid and replacing it, or if you are lucky you may just be able to unscrew the top, take out the ‘guts’ (diaphragm, spring etc) and replace them.

If that’s the case then its a much simpler operation even if it isn’t a whole lot cheaper.

For that reason I try to use ‘jartop’ valves rather than the ‘screwed’ valves as they are much easier to service. With lots of dirt all around its a pain trying to unscrew the screws, not lose them and then get the gasket back in place.

But if you can do a ‘guts exchange’ then its a five minute operation and a whole heap easier.

Just make sure you clear enough space around the valve to minimise the dirt factor and then cut the wires, change the parts over, rejoin the wires and you should be all good