Indexing Valve Frustration

Good Morning,
I’ve been using Rachio with a 6 zone indexing valve for a few years and hoping to see improvements to the functionality with this setup. Unless I’m missing something, I have not seen any improvements in the last few years. I have three general recommendations that I think would benefit all indexing valve users:

  1. If Rachio knows I have an indexing valve, and I run a manual watering, can’t the app keep track of what zone I’m on?
    Along those lines, as long as I’m starting from the right zone (which would require some way to confirm the current zone through the app), and I wanted to run a zone that is three zones down the indexing valve, couldn’t Rachio start and stop the system three times to get there? This would potentially limit the ability to run manual waterings, although it seems that the app should be able to keep track of how many zones it has cycled through.

  2. If I want to manually water, right now I have to start and stop each zone manually. I read on another post that you guys were working on adding a break in between in zone for indexing valves, so I could just say, manually water all for 20 minutes and the app could insert the breaks.I don’t see this functionality, although it was mentioned in 2015 on these forums.

  3. The way I’ve been told to set up my schedules with an index valve is to set up separate schedules for each zone. That means if I want to make a overall schedule, I have to go into the 6 different schedules to make the same change, which is painful. Why not make it so that indexing valve users can change all their zones with one change?

Because I need to use the manual function, the climate skip applies when it thinks I’ve watered the same zone recently, when in fact I’ve just cycled through the zones to get to where I want to be, so even the intuitive features don’t work on an indexing valve.

I’d like to know if I’m missing something with the functionality of the app. If I’m not, I would like an update on when some of these features could be added to the road map for improvements.

To add my 2 cents, a cheap rain sensor can be installed low to the ground near one of the sprinklers to keep everything in sync.

When ever associated zone runs, rain sensor should get wet and Rachio could get a confirmation about a known zone being active (thus allow software to make sure everything is in sync). Rain sensor would probably need to be protected by some sort of mesh in order to filter out debris close to the ground.

Alternately data from a flow sensor (if present) could help differentiating which zone is active by measuring differences in water consumption rate of different zones (rates being different due to number of irrigation heads…).

Question: why are you using an indexing valve? Arent indexing valves hydraulically operated? Convert to single zone electric valves and there will be no more issues.

The indexing valve was in place when I purchased the home. I’m trying to avoid the cost and time to needed to convert to single zone valves. In the thread below I was able to see some of the options to convert the system, but I have limited irrigation skills so I’d be paying someone else to do it. If there’s another, easier way to do it, I’d love to hear about it.


Convert to single zones

You must be in Florida. Its the only part of the country I know that I believe is still using index valves. I cannot believe it would be more than $300 to get your system up-to-date with electric solenoid valves.

I think it ends up being a pretty pricey operation if you have a professional do it, unfortunately :disappointed:. @mariogator Your assessment is pretty much accurate, I don’t believe you are missing any app functionality. Our support for indexing valves could be improved. Like others mentioned, this is something that is starting to come more and more on our radar, as they are typically only present in Florida. Thank you for your feedback on your experience, it is helpful to have real user experiences to bring to the team when trying to determine the best way to improve the product!

You might get two or three quotations from contractors if you are able financially. Irrigation work is not easy and I hate making repairs at my house.

But if all your lateral lines are right at the indexing valve, a contractor or you could construct a valve manifold box where all your valves would be side by side. Best of luck.

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I’m in Florida and had a 4 zone indexing valve system. Had it changed professionally to solenoids and would never go back. The time I spent trying to figure out how to get the index valve to work was not worth it. Cost < $1k.

We decided to get new sod this winter/spring. I don’t know how I could have watered it 3x daily with the mechanical timer/indexing valve. Everything is so much simpler if you update.

Just switch to solenoids & you’ll be much happier.


@tuna I appreciate you sharing your experience. I know it’s a big transition, but it does seem very worthwhile in the end.

Amen. Indexing valves are so tough to understand.

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Thank you very much for sharing this! We just bought a house in Melbourne, FL and I HATE my indexing valve! I want to convert too but was worried about the cost. If it’s less than $1000 then that’s a no-brainer!

I believe Florida is the main market for indexing valves. They are manufactured by KRain which is in Florida.

They are common because most people in Florida have a well pump so they don’t mind wasting water. Which is exactly what an indexing valve system does sadly. I think it’s also the easiest to install for contractors. They are an inefficient and an old technology that should be phased out. Miami is actually paying people to switch to an electric system.

Very interesting information. Makes total sense. Learned something new from you.