Flex Daily only tracking ~1/2 water usage, yet still under watering


#1

Rachio friends,

I have a Rachio 3 in California.

I struggled all summer with various settings (installed in May) and am running up against a problem I can’t figure out.

I have fourteen zones, a mix of grass, plants and trees: the grass are sprinklers and the rest are mostly misters/sprayers. All zones have been underwatered, according to both my keen ability to notice plants and grass die, and our gardeners – who keep complaining. I have tried to adjust many advanced settings to increase watering beyond out-of-the-box settings, but to little avail.

Here’s the bigger problem: Rachio is using 60% more water than it thinks. Our water bill has been out of control, and we’ve isolated it to irrigation after many rounds of testing with the City. Over the past few months, here is what Rachio thinks, and here is what actually has been used (in irrigation only):

  • Oct: Rachio reports 12,400; actually used 21,000 in irrigation
  • Sep: Rachio reports 10,500; actually used 17,000 in irrigation
  • Aug: Rachio reports 19,200; actually used 33,600 in irrigation
  • Jul: Rachio reports 13,300; actually used 27,000 in irrigation

My questions:

  1. How do I best go about troubleshooting this? Clearly something is massively off if Rachio thinks 12,400 gallons is sufficient for October, but 21,000 are being used – and the grass is still dying.

  2. Is it possible that I have a substantial leak in our irrigation system, only while the system is running? (There is no leak while irrigation is disabled.) I would think something this significant (60%+ usage) would affect the behavior of the actual watering.

2b. How would I go about resolving/finding something like this?

Thank you for your help,

JC


#2

First off, need to see your zone settings, both basic and advanced.

Do you have the Gen 3 with flow meter installed?

To answer your questions:

  1. If you have the Rachio flow meter attached, it obviously needs to be recalibrated. If not, then you have some zones that are not set up with the proper PR numbers. My guess is the latter.

  2. Possible, but if you had a leak that bad, you would notice a swamp somewhere in your yard!


#3

Troy – thank you very much for your reply.

  1. I have no flow meter. I just have the out-of-the-box Rachio 3 and mostly the defaults. Would a flow meter (help me) answer this question?

1b. My concern here with Rachio is this: let’s assume the flow is off. But why isn’t my yard overwatered? (I can’t imagine how much worse it would be if the flow were correct.)

  1. OK on leak. I guess we’d notice? Yard is 0.75 acre and a mix of plants / trees, not all of which are visible and/or accessible.

  2. Here are our current settings. (These are representative, not every zone.) Our zones are 5 grass, 2 trees, 7 plants.

“Plants”:


“Trees”:


“Grass”:



#4

To answer your questions:

  1. Yes and no…it might make it that much more accurate, if you really feel the need to match Rachio to your actual water meter, but if that is the only reason for it, I’d say no. What it does do well is let you know of a leak in the system based of baseline flow of the zone that you set up in the calibration phase.

The discrepancy you are seeing in Rachio is because of how it is calculating the gallons used. It is going to take the Inches Per Hour you have set up for each zone, and multiply that by the Area (Sq Feet of watering space) that you have in the advanced section. If neither of these are correct, that number will be off. Grass is pretty easy to figure out for area, other types of irrigation not so much.

  1. I have 2 acres (not all has vegetation/irrigation, and I found a long time leak by simply walking around the rock, and my foot sank in about 6". From the surface, there was no appearance of a leak, but plants down the line were suffering due to a lack of flow in the line, because of the leak.

Alright…first observations…here are some questions I have…

What do you have for nozzles on the shrubs and trees? Can you tell me what manufacturer and model they are (a picture would help)?

Have you checked the web soil survey to confirm you have Loam soil, or have you done your own soil analysis?

How mature is the vegetation?

How had you been watering prior to Rachio? How often and for how long?