Attempting to winterize - manual zone runs not working

Had my sprinkler guy out over the weekend as he was to winterize my irrigation system. There was a light freeze overnight (31 degrees) - our first of the year - and the guy was out very early in the morning. The copper piping out the side of my house needed to be heated briefly with a blow torch to get the water flowing. The plastic PVC pipe on the other side of the valves was also heated but I could not get water to flow to the sprinkler heads when a manual run was chosen on any of my zones. The forecasted high for the day was to be 36 degrees so he said he would stop out later in the day to try again. At 4pm the temp was 36 degrees and any and all ice/condensation from the early morning was long gone. Still was unable to get water to come out of the sprinkler heads.

In short my system states it is online but I cannot get the manual start of an individual zone to work. Any suggestions?

Thank you!

Hey @kernel5150-

Are you sure your water is on? I am guessing yes, but always have to double check. When is the last time you successfully ran the controller?

McKynzee :rachio:

Yes, I’m sure the water is on. The last successful run was on Wednesday, Oct. 25th around 7:00am and Monday the 23rd around the same time. Ground was wet on Friday due to late night storm on Wed and Thursday so Friday was skipped. Slight freeze (31 degrees) on Friday night. Saturday morning I turned off water, sprinkler guy came out and hooked up his air hose and I turned on zone 1. Nothing came out. I tried the other 3 zones, same thing. He thought water might have froze in copper piping, I turned the water back on. He opened a couple of the valves on the copper side of the irrigation system and water was barely dripping out. He used a blow torch for a total of about 10 seconds across the pipe and water was again flowing like normal. On the other side of the copper pipes, there’s a 2 to 2 1/2" pvc pipe that runs underground to the sprinkler heads. He spent about 10 minutes carefully warming the pvc pipe with the torch and was unable to get water moving through the system. Keep in mind that it’s been above freezing since May when I turned the water on and the Rachio has worked flawlessly up until Saturday morning. Over the course of the next 6-7 hours on Saturday, I went out and did the same warming on the pvc pipe in hopes that I could get the water running through the system and the sprinkler guy could come back out later that day. By 5pm, I gave up.

That was very wordy - LOL - but hopefully explains everything that’s been attempted so far. The sprinkler guy is scheduled to come back out again tomorrow (Tuesday) morning and we are going to try again. If necessary, he will be going to each of the control boxes buried in the ground and manually opening the zones, but I’m hoping to disprove that it’s the Rachio’s fault before he gets there.


If the valves can be manually run from their control box, then you may have an output issue at the controller. Use a volt meter and check the output on the terminal block. The common wire might be the culprit.

If there is output at the controller, check the common to the first valve box closest to the controller. It could be a loose splice or broken wire.

This sounds like an odd situation at temperatures barely below freezing. Someone has turned off an isolation valve or something. Never heat PVC pipe! This contractor sounds like someone to avoid. Look for a certified irrigation contracator through the Irrigation Association

Thanks for the replies.

Sprinkler guy came out this morning, hooked up his compressor and manually opened the valves - everything got blown out just fine.

Going to hang the Rachio up for the season (just put it in standby mode) and will see what happens next spring. At least I can rest assured this winter knowing the system won’t freeze! :smile:

Thanks again.

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