Does your irrigation valve need repairing or replacing?
You may suspect that one or several of your sprinkler/irrigation valves is having problems or you might be noticing problems but are unsure of the cause. Lets talk about what your sprinkler/irrigation valves do, symptoms of a faulty valve, and what it takes to replace or repair it.
As you know, your sprinkler system is broken up into several zones or sections. The reason for this starts at the water meter. The city water meter can only ‘flow’ a set amount of water per min depending on the size of that meter. Each ‘zone’ is activated by a valve set in the ground. Your sprinkler controller ‘signals’ for the valve to open or close which allows water to flow through the PVC lines and out the heads. The reason I use the word ‘signals’ will be explained in a bit.
Now that we understand that there are valves set for each zone and their purpose, lets talk about how they fail. First we need to understand that the majority of modern valves are plastic with rubber internal parts. Even the old brass valves from 50 years ago still have rubber internal parts. Plus your valves are one of very few moving parts on the system as a whole. So opening and closing all year long for, several years, in harsh conditions, with rubber internal parts that are soaked in water, its going to eventually fail.
Here is a short list of how a valve may fail:
- Valve will stick on in the open position (usually when you’re away so it can run for hours, even days)
- Valve will stick in the closed position
- Valve will be closed but ‘weep’ water and out the heads constantly
- Valve plastic will crack or separate and leak water causing a large ‘mushy’ spot
- Valve will short causing an error msg on the controller or constantly ‘blow’ a fuse
- Valve will surge on and off while that zone is on
These are the most common symptoms of a faulty sprinkler valve. As you can see with all of these symptoms the irrigation controller has no ‘control’ over it. This is why I always use the word ‘signal’ when talking about how the zones turn on and off. I have customers call me in the middle of the night saying “that we turned there controller off, unplugged it, then pulled it off the wall and our front yard still won’t shut off”.
In most of these cases I recommend whole replacement of the valve. In some very rare occasions ill repair the valve, but usually that’s reserved for larger commercial valves of a quality brand.
Once you have diagnosed that ‘yes I do have a problem with one or several irrigation valves in my system’ then replacement is a pretty big job in itself. These are the steps that need to be taken to replace a sprinkler valve in a best case scenario. In some cases there are extra issues to deal with.
- Diagnosing which valve/zone is the offending zone
- Using a wire location device to locate exactly where that valve is and how deep
- Excavating the valve, making sure not to damage the PVC piping and wires
- Cutting out the old valve in a way to be able to install a new one
- Plumbing in a new valve insuring proper flow for that zone
- Allow ‘dry time’ for the PVC cement
- Wire in the valve so the controller can ‘signal’ it and the other valves
- Install a valve box to help protect the valve and for easy service in the future
- Cover up the box salvaging as much landscape as possible
- And of course testing the valve for proper operation
As you can see there is a lot that goes into diagnosing a valve issue and replacement. I would strongly recommend that only a ‘licensed’ professional tackle this kind of project. You can give us a call if you have any further questions or would like to schedule a service call. You may also fill out the ‘request service’ box on the right side of the page.