Finally stopped low and high flow messages!

For anyone who has had troubled with persistent low and high flow messages when sprinklers run…

After I got my wireless flow sensor, I spent months (and over $800!) troubleshooting and revising my sprinkler system to try to stop low and high flow messages from various zones. I had many conversations with technical support. They replaced the flow meter once. Nothing helped. After so many months, the company graciously paid me back for all my expenses.

Now, serendipitously, I seem to have solved the problem. To make a long story short, I changed all my pop-up sprinkler nozzles to Hunter MP Rotary nozzles. These use much lower flow (0.8 gpm per nozzle) as compared to the fixed spray heads I had before. I then re-calibrated all those zones. The difference was impressive. First, my flow per zone was obviously much lower. Second, there was a big difference in how quickly and consistently the flow became stable during calibration. With the fixed spray heads, regardless how long I set the stabilization times, flows would bounce around from 8 gpm to 20 gpm, and any flow in between, randomly, and never stayed stable. In contrast, with the rotary nozzles, flow became unchanging after 30 - 45 seconds. Since then, I have not had a single low or high flow message. I did have the expense of the new nozzles, but finally I have a system that does what I wanted.

So, if you are having trouble with persistent low and high flow messages, consider changing to rotary nozzles. Not only might your flow meter work correctly, but they waste significantly less water.


Slight nitpick.

A flowmeter (any flowmeter) simply indicates what the flow in the pipe is doing. If your system was unstable and bouncing around, the flow meter simply showed you that and was in fact working correctly. Now you may have a contention with the software or the way the data is utilized in the calibration process, but the meter did what meters do.

You are absolutely right. And, although it may not have been obvious, that was my point and my conclusion. It had nothing to do with the flow meter. It had to do with the nozzles, and only the nozzles. Still, unless this is a unique situation to my sprinkler system, I would have liked to know that before I purchased the meter (something like: Fixed spray heads may result in variable flow, interfering with the leak protection features of the flow meter. Nozzles may also need to be changed to rotary type.) to be able to take into account the incremental expense. Also, it could have led to a much quicker resolution to my support ticket.

Can I ask one more question just for clarity?

Did the flow never become stable with your old heads even if you waited long enough OR did the maximum time for settling that the controller allowed not be long enough for it to settle?

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No matter what we did, including extending the stabilization time, the flow never became stable. Rachio even hired a sprinkler company themselves to try to get things to work. Rachio eventually gave up and just reimbursed me for my expenses. However, as soon as I changed to rotary nozzles, everything worked perfectly.

After so many months, the company graciously paid me back for all my expenses…
So after you found out that the problem was your nozzles and not Rachio’s flow meter did you give Rachio back the $800.00 + dollars they refunded you ???

No, because those expenses were caused by their inaccurate advice to me, over and over again, for many months. If they had suggested that the nozzles could have been the problem, I would have replaced them, not had the other expense, and be done with the problem quickly. I don’t think the consumer should be responsible for knowing how to “fix” a device.

Being hundreds of miles away, it isn’t Rachios job to troubleshoot your nozzles and tell you that is the problem. Kudos to the Rachio team for supporting you, but IMHO it was not warranted. If their equipment was working correctly (which it was) it should have been up to you to figure out where the issue was, with our without their guidance…IMHO of course.

I do understand your point. Mine is that all of the troubleshooting steps I took were the company’s advice, including their sending out a Rachio-approved sprinkler company for a direct view of the problem and re-routing my sprinkler system. That led to the expense. In addition, I was upset that it was very difficult to get responses from customer support. It could take weeks to hear back from them. When I requested the reimbursement, nothing they had suggested had helped. I agree that it was good of them to actually reimburse me. I still think the company should have advised upfront that the product would not work with certain nozzles, even if they were working correctly, so I could make an informed purchase.

The product works with any nozzle - as long as your irrigation system is properly designed. If a system works well after switching from high-flow spray nozzles to low-flow rotators, it’s clear that the system was not properly designed. The first steps in a system design are to validate a design pressure and a design flow against the water supply, after placing the sprinklers over the area, the next step is to design a system of pipes that is adequately sized to supply the required flow at required pressure to the sprinklers. If the required flow of the sprinklers exceeds the capabilities of the water supply and/or the pipe system, the result is a fluctuating flow - pressure is not where it has to be, sprinklers don’t fully rise and their throughput varies together with fluctuations in the pressure.

The contractor should have been able to diagnose this on-site. But since the subject of their contract is not disclosed, it’s not legit to finger-point to the rachio-contractor.

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@top_gun_de nailed it. The nozzles themselves weren’t the issue, and it wasn’t that Rachio WFM doesn’t work with those nozzles…your whole system was a bad design from the start, and you had too many heads/too high of GPM in those nozzles for the piping or backflow feeding you system. Again, Kudos to Rachio for paying, but I think situations like this are why the WFM is gone. There are too many variables, and too many badly designed/installed systems out there that probably made it a support nightmare.

I think another thing people do not consider is the fact that different times of day can result in different city water pressure which will directly contribute to different flow rates at heads. Best to install pressure regulator at your backflow setting your system to operate at the lowest psi your largest system will water properly at so to give you consistent water pressure and flow rates. In my area the neighboring watering demands can directly affect my available water pressure and flow rates.

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