Inactive flow warning


#1

Wow. I had the flow meter for my Rachio installed three days ago. Last night, I got a leak warning based on inactive flow.The warning said “Flow when system is off: While there were no scheduled or manual waterings your flow meter reported water flowing at a rate of 0.7 gpm.” The warning was delivered at 1:38 a.m. My last zone had completed at 1:35 a.m.

  1. Am I understanding this thread correctly? It seems like @mitchell is saying that the functionality for inactive flow warnings was just enabled. So last night may have been the first time I could have gotten this warning?

  2. I don’t know much about sprinklers. But if I understand what I’ve been reading, the most likely reason for my inactive flow reading is that I have a valve that doesn’t close properly after the sprinklers run–in the case of my system, this would probably be due to aging valves. [In fact, I finally had my flow meter installed this week because I had the sprinkler guy out anyway–he replaced a valve he said wasn’t working any more due to age and some of the other valves in the same box while he was at it.] Does this hypothesis seem right to you?

  3. If my hypothesis in #2 is correct, then am I correct in assuming that the problematic valve is in one of the zones that watered last night? I have 12 zones, but only 7 of them watered last night. I guess I can also assume that probably/hopefully it isn’t any of the 4 valves I just replaced (it will require some testing for me to figure out which of the zones that ran last night were not the ones whose valves were just replaced. I don’t know how to do it, so I guess I would have to call the sprinkler guy back).

  4. Am I correct in thinking that this inactive flow could be from any of the zones that ran last night, not necessarily more likely the last zone that ran?

  5. What do you think I should do if there aren’t any obvious visual signs of the leaking zone? Just replace all the valves that haven’t yet been replaced? (Expensive!)

  6. Should I take this warning seriously? If it was just enabled, can I trust it? Could there be some other explanation? Should I wait and see if it recurs every time these zones water?

  7. Is it possible that this doesn’t need action at all? Sure the valve stays open for a minute or two after the sprinklers stop–but that’s no big deal? [New feature desire: If the system detects flow when system is off, it should check again for inactive flow in 30 minutes and so on after that until it detects no active flow. In other words, I’d like to know if this only happens right after my system shuts off, or if I have leak that lasts for a half hour or more].

Thanks so much for any help or insights anyone can offer.


Leak Detection When Not Running
#2

@franz Are “inactive flow” and “flow when system is off” different terms for the same thing or different things?


#3

@mitchell I have the flow meter installed, but I can’t find the Flow Settings either. The only thing on my Controller Settings that isn’t on Adrian97c’s screenshot is time to pressurize. However I think my inactive flow check option is activated because I got a warning about it! See my other response in this thread.


Leak Detection When Not Running
#4

@franz Thank you for splitting off my thread. I’m sorry I did it wrong. I’m new.


#5

Yes, I’ll let the rest of the team comment on your questions above.

:cheers:


#6

@afaulconer - Under the flow meter settings there is a settle time which is when the system will check for flow when it is inactive. One could try increasing that value.

The leak could be coming from any zone, not just the ones that ran. Is the flow meter installed on a water line that is only used for irrigation?


#7
  1. Am I understanding this thread correctly? It seems like @mitchell is saying that the functionality for inactive flow warnings was just enabled. So last night may have been the first time I could have gotten this warning?

Inactive Flow warnings were publicly enabled for the first time last Thursday, 8/16, which would have been the first time you would have received a warning.

  1. I don’t know much about sprinklers. But if I understand what I’ve been reading, the most likely reason for my inactive flow reading is that I have a valve that doesn’t close properly after the sprinklers run–in the case of my system, this would probably be due to aging valves. [In fact, I finally had my flow meter installed this week because I had the sprinkler guy out anyway–he replaced a valve he said wasn’t working any more due to age and some of the other valves in the same box while he was at it.] Does this hypothesis seem right to you?

This is accurate. When enabled, Inactive Flow Check simply checks for any signs of flow after a scheduled or manual watering has completed and there is not another scheduled run lined up. The check occurs at the specified Settle Time which is configured in the Flow Settings menu of the app (located under Controller Settings). By default, this is 3 minutes.

  1. If my hypothesis in #2 is correct, then am I correct in assuming that the problematic valve is in one of the zones that watered last night?

Unfortunately the Flow Meter can only confirm that flow was detected, but in this case cannot specify the exact origin. Those zones would likely be a good place to start.

  1. Am I correct in thinking that this inactive flow could be from any of the zones that ran last night, not necessarily more likely the last zone that ran?

Correct, it could potentially be from a Zone that did not water last night as well.

  1. What do you think I should do if there aren’t any obvious visual signs of the leaking zone? Just replace all the valves that haven’t yet been replaced? (Expensive!)
  1. Should I take this warning seriously? If it was just enabled, can I trust it? Could there be some other explanation? Should I wait and see if it recurs every time these zones water?
  1. Is it possible that this doesn’t need action at all? Sure the valve stays open for a minute or two after the sprinklers stop–but that’s no big deal? [New feature desire: If the system detects flow when system is off, it should check again for inactive flow in 30 minutes and so on after that until it detects no active flow. In other words, I’d like to know if this only happens right after my system shuts off, or if I have leak that lasts for a half hour or more].

What the warning guarantees is that water was detected flowing through your Flow Meter after the specified Settle Time (default 3minutes). At the moment the most valuable aspect of this feature is the detection itself. As mentioned above, Settle Time determines at what time your system will check for inactive flow after watering has stopped. What I would recommend doing is increasing your Settle Time to the current maximum of 10minutes and then checking your next run to see if the inactive flow is still detected.

I myself unfortunately cannot offer much insight into repairing the leak itself, though I definitely recommend inspecting the sprinkler heads for any obvious signs of looseness or damage. I would recommend considering the impact of constant flow overtime, as this could definitely lead to a higher watering bill.

  1. Are “inactive flow” and “flow when system is off” different terms for the same thing or different things?

Yes, same thing.

  1. I have the flow meter installed, but I can’t find the Flow Settings either. The only thing on my Controller Settings that isn’t on Adrian97c’s screenshot is time to pressurize. However I think my inactive flow check option is activated because I got a warning about it! See my other response in this thread.

As of 8/16 the feature was switched ON by default for all of our Flow Users. In order to disable/enable Inactive Flow Check or customize the Settle Time check of this feature you need to ensure that you have downloaded the latest version of the iOS or Android app! The latest version of the app is 3.8.


#8

Yes, I think it is installed on a line that is only for sprinklers.

Thanks for helping me understand that I need to consider both valves that were scheduled to run and valves that weren’t scheduled. I appreciate it.


#9

Thank you for your thoughtful responses to my questions! Updating the Android app in Google Play store made it so that I could see the flow settings that had been referred to earlier. Apparently, it wasn’t an update that was pushed out? Anyway, when I manually updated, that fixed it so that I could see the settings. Thank you.

I have changed the settle time. Is it weird that I feel kind of excited to see what will happen tonight (or possibly in the nights to come)? Since it waters early in the morning, I almost feel like staying up with popcorn and suspense, to see what Rachio will tell me this time!

Thanks for all of the valuable information.


#10


#11

Thank you for the excellent questions and @mitchell did a great job of answering them.

We are very excited about this feature as it helps to solve a major problem in the irrigation ecosystem (stuck, leaky, wasteful valves).

Please let us know what you find!


#12

It looks like I have an inconsistent problem–but maybe that is consistent with having an old valve? I first got the “flow when system is off” warning early Sunday morning after a regularly scheduled watering. I followed the advice on this thread and changed the settle time under flow settings to 10 minutes. Later in the day, I did a “quick run” of one zone (because I’m trying to repair the damage that having one of the valves fail while we were on vacation did-- dead–very dead, crispy grass). Ten minutes after that zone completed I got the “flow when system is off” warning again. The flow was .7 gpm. This seems like a bigger deal, because .7 gpm for 10 minutes starts to add up to a lot of wasted water and who knows how long that water kept flowing? Since the system only measures after 10 minutes, but not after 30 or 60, I may be wasting lots and lots of water. : (

Given what you all told me before, I take it the fact that this happened after I ran a certain zone doesn’t indicate that the problematic valve is on that zone or any other particular zone. You have told me that there is no way to know which zone’s valve needs help, right? I don’t have mushrooms or anything. Definitely some areas of the yard are much greener than others, but I haven’t found a swamp anywhere. It has been very hot and dry here! Anyway, the sprinklers ran again last night (this is confusing to me as a new user because there wasn’t a water drop symbol on the calendar, so I thought it wouldn’t run.) This time I did not get the “flow when system is off” warning after it finished. So the valve problem is inconsistent?!?! Is the system telling me that I have a valve that sometimes leaks for 10 minutes or more and sometimes doesn’t?

P.S. The flow meter has also notified me that one of my zones is measuring a low flow of 0.0 gpm. There are xeric plants on a drip line in that zone, so although they were not looking good, I had no idea that they weren’t getting water at all. I think every automatic sprinkler user needs a flow meter!

P.P.S. I did another “quick run” just now of the dry/crispy/dead grass zone and once again after the 10 minute settle there is no “flow when system is off” warning. That’s good, I guess, because it means I’m not wasting tons of water, but it does seem like this inconsistency makes it hard to know what to do.


#13

I have OCD, so it’s prob a good thing I was told having a flow sensor next to a well pump isn’t recommenced. I’d be going nuts trying to decipher all that data & alerts, but boy I wish I had one still :green_heart: