All sprinklers turn on with every zone test - Gen 2

Just moved into a new house with a sprinkler system and got a water bill for $185, obviously bought the rachio immediately :smiley:. I know there are a few sprinkler heads not working, and I think they may be cut lines dumping water underground :frowning:. So i wanted to use the rachio to turn off those zones until I can afford to get them fixed. Testing zone 1 only turns on the one head, any other zone tested turns on almost all of the sprinklers plus or minus one or two. This is my first sprinkler system, any tips on how I should I got about troubleshooting this?

Have you tried activating individual heads manually (by turning the valve counter clockwise about a quarter of a turn)? I also see a master terminal is used, do you by any chance use an irrigation pump?

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@ianderse - jumping in behind @Gene here. I’m wondering if there is a stuck valve (open).

If there is a master valve in the system, so not a pump as @Gene is asking about, I might disconnect all but the white wire and one of the black wires from the left most wire nut as it appears that is the common wire. This way electricity would only be going to one valve and to see if more than one area opens up - the trick will be cycling through the zones to find the one that is still connected. Don’t forget to reconnect all the wires back together again. Another thought is to configure a zone for terminal 11 (nothing is hooked up) and run it. If the zones still come on, then those valve(s) is/are manually opened or stuck open.


The black wire on the M terminal can lead to some suspicion unless you actually have a master valve or pump installed.

I would start with an Ohm meter since I suspect a short or miss wiring.

  1. Turn on your Multi meter to the lowest Ohm setting which is usually 200 ohms.
  2. Place the black lead to the C terminal.
  3. Place the red lead to terminal 1 for about 8 seconds, then 2,3 and so on.
  4. On those Richdale valves, the Ohm reading should be from 20 to 27 ohms.
  5. A lower reading indicates a cross wiring with other valves.
  6. In the event that most of the readings are too low, I would consider changing the sprinkler cable to the valve box while taking note as to which color goes to each valve and assign them a terminal on the controller.

I have a standard practice to test each station prior to changing any controller over to a new one. That helps to eliminate the frustration and rule out if the new controller has a malfunction or if the system was bad to begin with.


Thanks everyone, I will try some of these troubleshooting steps today/tomorrow and get back to you with the results.