Functional issues after winterization

Last year, I used a 16 zone/2nd generation controller without any issue and it was great. When winter rolled around, I had my sprinkler system flushed/turned off (winterized) by a professional service. During this time, I left my controller in stand-by mode.

Unfortunately, when the water was turned back on in the spring the controller did not function correctly. It appears that only 1 zone comes on regardless of the zone I enable either manually or through a schedule.

I have no idea how to troubleshoot this issue. My initial reaction was to factory reset the unit, which I haven’t done yet, and was curious if anyone had experienced a similar issue?

Thanks for your time and any advice.

@karlhungus - please provide some more information about the system and situation:

  1. Does the system have a master valve or pump start relay in it?
  2. Which zone comes on? (And I’m assuming it is the same zone every time that comes on)
  3. How was the manual zone enabled - at the controller using the buttons, on the application by selecting a specific zone or at the valve box.
  4. Is there a rain sensor on the system? If so, is the rain sensor connected to the sensor ports on the Rachio or is the sensor in-line on the common wire.

Also assuming that all four lights on the Rachio are on.

Do you have a volt and ohm meter to test the electrical with?

I’d go to a valve for a zone that isn’t working and manually activate the valve to see if water comes to that zone.

Then I’d activate that zone using Rachio and see if there is 24 V AC between that zone’s terminal and one of the C(ommon) terminals. If so, I think it may be a field wire problem.

Controller winterization is just blowing compressed air through the lines. It has zero impact on the controller. Do you have all of your zones enabled on the app? I have had a few weird things happen since i have owned, but it was all due to me accidentally toggling something by mistake.

@DLane Thanks for the reply and info.

  1. Yes, there is a master valve.
  2. It’s zone 5. I tested about 5 random zones, and they all enabled zone 5.
  3. I enabled the zones from the app.
  4. There are no external sensors in the system.

I can double-check the light orientation tomorrow.

I do have a volt/ohm meter, but admittedly have no idea how to use it so I’ll need to do some YouTubing to get an understanding of how to go this route.

@robertokc Yeah, no doubt the winterization is just blowing out the pipes, but in terms of deliberating touching the system it’s the only delta I can think of between now and then (barring any external unknowns).

Will update as things progress, and really appreciate the input.

@karlhungus - Here are my current thoughts:

  1. I wonder if zone 5’s valve is stuck open - happened to another poster just recently. If this is the case, there are at least two problems - one of which is the valve for zone 5.

  2. As there is a master valve in the system it will need to be opened or activated for the manual at the valve box test.

  3. Use the buttons on the Gen 2 unit to try a manual run.

  4. For the volt meter, assuming it has a dial to set the ranges and doesn’t automatically set the range, set it to measure AC current (not DC current) and for a maximum value of greater than 24 (the scale on my volt meter for that range is 50). When a zone is activated, like in 3 above or with the app, one lead from the volt meter goes in the zone terminal and the other lead goes to a C(ommon) terminal - it doesn’t matter which lead (red or black) goes where. If the lead can’t make a good contact with the terminal, then a short piece of wire can be inserted in the terminal and the lead can be held against it (this is low voltage 24 volts, so it won’t bite bad if you create a circuit).

  5. Rachio support can tell how much current is being pulled in the Gen 2 device when the zones are running, I’d ask them to give you those values as that can be an indicator if the wire is cut/broken.

I’m placing odds on a stuck open valve for zone 5 and the common wire (and others) being broken/disconnected as the betting favorite.

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Hey @karlhungus-

Looking into your account, I see that zones 1, 2, and 13 are currently disabled. I also see strange current values on zones 3, 4, 5, 11, and 12. Are you still running into the same issue with only zone 5 activating? Have you had the chance to do any additional troubleshooting? I’m curious if there is something going on with one of your common wires.

McKynzee :rachio:

Morning @mckynzee,

Yes, 1/2/13 are disabled as they are soaker lines that I wasn’t using.

  • Could you elaborate on what you mean by strange values?
  • I haven’t tested in a few days, but I assume zone 5 is still the only one that will work
  • I haven’t had a chance to do any additional troubleshooting just yet.

Being a complete novice, and to attempt @DLane suggestions I think I first need to locate the master valve and then figure out how to enable it. Might have some time to try that this evening.

Appreciate all the support

Hey @karlhungus-

When I say strange, I mean that the on/off values are almost identical (207/214), when we typically see a difference of about 200~. For example, your zone six is 423/214. This makes me worried that it’s more than a stuck valve and could be a wiring issue- what do you think @DLane?

@mckynzee, I like the odds I originally threw out even better with this information (zone 5 being stuck open and the field wire being cut somewhere that is preventing a complete circuit). If the current being used by Rachio is about the same when the zone is on and off, then there is no current flowing down that zone wire.

@karlhungus - The Rachio should turn on the master valve when you manually use the buttons on the unit to water a zone. I’m also thinking there would be a way to manually turn on the master valve. I suggested this test to eliminate the Rachio as the reason zone 5 is always watering. During winterization the service company could have left the valve for zone 5 manually open.

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Ok perfect, yes it really does sound like a combo of the two. @karlhungus this may require a professional to come out and fix your wiring. Let me know if you would like a recommendation!

Well, it turned out to be fairly simple. I hired a service, and the tech said the ground connection was loose in zone 5’s control box. After re-doing that connection everything worked as expected. Thanks for all of the guidance and information from everyone.

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