One out of 8 zones not working after winter

I turned on my sprinklers after the winter and noticed that one zone (zone 7) out of 8 zones is not working. To debug the issue, I switched the wires on the Rachio controller. Only the bad zone still doesn’t work hence ruled out controller issue. In the lawn I isolated the valve and solenoid that is related to this zone. When I turned the valve in manual mode the zone is working. I am not sure what are the next steps in identifying the problem. Since it is working in manual mode, is it only the wiring problem in the lawn (not in the garage where controller is placed)?

Newbie to the group and never have to deal with such issue. Please comment and suggest next possible steps.


@bchakka11 - great debugging steps that you’ve performed. Seems to have it down to wiring or solenoid. Was there any digging in the yard over the winter?

If you have access to a volt/ohm (AKA multimeter) I’d test resistance down the zone line and back to the common line - with one or both ends out of the controller. If there is no resistance then there is a break in the circuit somewhere. Next, I’d move to the solenoid undoing both wire nuts and testing resistivity through the solenoid coil. If there is no resistance then replace the solenoid - turn off the water if there is not a master valve.

Then try replacing the wire nuts with water proof ones and cleaning the connection. If still no luck, then it is probably in the field wire between the controller and the valve.

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It sounds like you either have a bad solenoid or something happened with your wiring to that valve. Before doing anything, make sure the solenoid wiring is connected well to the cable from the controller. If you have a multimeter, check the solenoid leads to see if you are getting 24V AC at the solenoid. If you are getting good voltage, then the solenoids has likely gone bad, which happens occasionally; you must use the same brand replacement solenoid that is already there.

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Thanks for quick reply. I need to get an multimeter and test out. Will post my next steps here.

Thanks @DaveB and @DLane.

Basically I didn’t have to go for multimeter test. It took little cleaning of the wires and rewrapping them and taping them fixed the issue. Though I lived in this house for more than 5 years I didn’t know which valve belonged to which zone. Finally figured them out and few learnings along the way. Thanks to the forum.

@bchakka11 - I recommend water proof wire nuts like these (available at Home Depot or Lowe’s) as they have a sealant in them to help keep moisture out:


Keep in mind, although you can manually cycle the valve, it doesn’t 100% mean that it isn’t still the diaphragm inside the valve. Manually cycling the valve moved the solenoid plunger further than when it is energized by the controller, which can mask the issue. Winter shutdowns are a perfect time for diaphragms to dry out and/or seize up.

Honestly, if I were in your shoes, valves are cheap. I’d go buy a complete valve (same make and model of what you have) and replace all the guts and wire in the new solenoid. For $15 or so, you basically have a brand new valve ready for years of service.


Thanks a lot @tmcgahey Troy. Appreciate it. It was subsequently found out that it is a wiring issue. I have sealed the connectors and it is all working now. I will consider replacing the valve and solenoid. At the minimum it will give me the experience of solving the issue in future. Thanks again.