No Water/sprinkers not running/not sure where to start at this point

I am beyond frustrated(and feeling a little dumb!) and do not know how to troubleshoot at this point Sprinklers don’t run at all from Controller and do not run manually. I checked the controller valve box and the valves are turned on properly so it should be getting water from the main water from the city. I have not used this system in about a year but last time I ran it did work if I recall.

Suggestions on where to start? Could it be the valves in the controller box (They are manual valves, no electricity) or is this the actual backflow valve that I am looking at?
Much thanks!!


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It is hard for me to tell what you have there, but will give it a shot. Is the small blue handle a ball valve? If so, it looks like it is in the off position (perpendicular to pipe rather than parallel).

Are you using culinary or separate irrigation water on your sprinklers? Since manually turning on the valves produces no water, it seems like it has to be a valve before the sprinkler valves. Do you have a master valve or pump (this seems unlikely)? Is the city water on? Does the city water have a meter? If so, I would check the meter box for a valve. Any filter before the valves that could be clogged? Possibly the city meter clogged?

This sounds like your water was turned off at the meter. And that you have two meters: one for the home and one for the irrigation, a situation similar to mine. When we winterize, the irrigation water is turned off at the meter, the back flow preventer opened, the booster pump removed and put into the garage. No need to blow out the system here in North Carolina. Spring turn on is just the reverse.

At any rate, be sure your system is turned on at the meter.

Thanks for responding. There are two ball valves each with different color. The handles are bent so they look like they are perpendicular rather than parallel. I’m fairly positive they are in right position but I’m going to replace the handles to make sure.

There is a water shutoff valve at the meter which is on. If it was off we would not have water at the house.

I’ll put new handles on the ball valves and report back.


Sounds like irrigation and culinary north use the same source. Several said the same thing about where I live, but found that not the case. Are you thinking the only valve to shut off the sprinklers’ water is part of what might be the backflow preventer?

Does the device you posted a picture of look like on of these on this site? Sprinkler Backflow Preventer — Sprinkler Supply Store


Yes I think so. Before that is the city water meter and there is a shutoff there as well which shuts water off to the whole house including sprinkler.

Great, seems like that is a great place to start with a place to start. I see the left valve handle now that I know what it looks like (what I was seeing is something else). We do not need a backflow preventer here probably because we are on irrigation water. Is there any kind of bleed valve to see if water is available there? It is hard tell what position that right valve is in.

@Nesbib1 / Brad, the top picture is the double check/backflow preventer as you’ve since discovered. It looks like the handles on the sides are in the correct position. I believe what @Thomas_Lerman thought was a valve in the closed position is actually a cap for the first test port.

When it was mentioned the zones didn’t run manually - was that at the Rachio controller selecting a zone or going to the valve box for the zone and opening the solenoid bleed valve to activate the zone?

Yes, @DLane, you are correct. I was trying not to make my error so obvious. :wink:

I interpreted “from Controller and do not run manually” as going to the valve box, but could be wrong there too. It would not be the first time. :wink:

@Thomas_Lerman - No disrespect intended, you add a lot to the community! Photos are sometimes hard to figure out. I just wanted to clear it up for any casual lurkers coming behind us.

No disrespect taken, thought I would give you a poke in the ribs.

Like others have already identified, your picture is of a backflow assembly. While these can fail, it is pretty uncommon. You can test that you have water on both sides of the backflow unit itself by unscrewing the outside 2 test ports, and there should be a screwdriver slot on the test valve that will open, allowing water to come out. If you have water to the house, you should for sure have water on the city side, before the backflow/check valve, and if you have water on the sprinkler side, then you’ve ruled out the backflow device.

From there, like @DLane asked, when you say you “manually” tried to run, are you saying manually from the app, or the controller, or at the sprinkler valves themselves? Try at the sprinkler valves, and see if they cycle. With a visual inspection of the valve box, you might see blown solenoids, or possibly a wiring issue.


Hey everyone. Wanted to report that mystery has been solved. The diaphragm on the control valve was stuck, which was not allowing water to pass through. Once it was replaced the sprinklers are running now!

I REALLY appreciate you all responding and providing possible solutions and steps to take.

Have a fantastic day!



Is the control valve on the check valve or elsewhere?

It’s separated. The control valve was in an area just outside the backflow that was buried so I was not aware it was there until today. Go figure!

Ahh, like a master valve, maybe manual? I might try to figure out how to put a small box over it