Rachio 3 - will not power any zone!

Hi, I have a Rachio 3, 16-zone controller I purchased and installed in 2019. Worked great last year. This year, I had the system turned on for the summer, irrigation guys were able to test using manual controls a couple of weeks ago when turning on the system. Now, I cannot power on any zone either manually at the controller, through app or via app timer. Rachio says the zone is watering but nothing actually happens.

I never had Master valve, is disabled in app settings. Ditto for relay pump.

Attaching wiring picture. Any help troubleshooting is appreciated!!

Do you have a multimeter?

Yes, I do

EDIT: Wait, did you say you can’t manually turn the zone on? Meaning when you physically turn the zone on by turning the valve open, nothing comes out? That would mean it’s not a wiring problem. Check for any kind of water shutoff valves prior to the irrigation valves.

Original reply: When no zones are set to run, check each zone terminal against common to make sure it isn’t shorted. Also check each terminal against the others to see if anything is shorted. If it is, then disconnect from the controller and check for shorts again (to see if the short is inside the controller or the wire).

If the first step checks out OK, then with the app thinking a zone is running, check that terminal against common for around 24VAC. Do for each zone. Also you can check and make sure there is no voltage on the zone terminals that you are NOT running according to the app. If you get strange readings, disconnect the control wires and check again (to double check it is the controller and not the wires/valves), may need to insert small wires into the terminals to assist in the measurement.

If the terminals are all checking good, then go downstream. Go to the valve box(es). With the zone not running, check the control wire for that valve for resistance to common. With the zone running in the app, check for 24VAC. Do that for every valve.

I think that’s how I would start.

@Sujay - does the Rachio have 120V AC power? I don’t any lights on the status bar (unless it was configured to be off in the app). I’d check to see if the 24 V + - lines report power. Many times there is a cut-off valve to isolate the sprinkler system, so make sure that is open.

And to be crystal clear on the “manually” option - I’d find a valve in the yard (many times under a round valve cover) and activate it to see if water comes one - normally a quarter turn of the solenoid or a separate bleed valve. If that doesn’t work, then I’d check water first.

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@DLane - thanks for your inputs, I will check the valves (although I don’t have prior experience with these). The system was powered down as I was rebooting it hoping it would magically work, otherwise it has 120V AC power and powers-up fine. Will report back on the 24 V± lines power.

@TSGarp007 - clarifying what I meant manually - using the controls/buttons on the Rachio device vs. the app. I did not try playing with any valves yet, but will attempt to do so as you and @DLane have suggested. I will also check for power and shorts as you recommended and report back with findings. Thanks!

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If no zone work, it’s usually an issue with the common wire, or water supply issue…

Like @DLane said, try manually turning on zones AT the valve and report back.


Happy to report that the system is working again! It doesn’t make sense why this would work, but it did:

  • Toggled Master valve setting ON/None in the app, restarted the controller
  • Toggled the water supply valve

Thanks for all your help - will keep these debugging steps handy for the future!


Hi Sujay,
I have the exact same problem with my system as what you described. Rachio 3 was working fine last summer. I turned it off for winter. I restarted everything for the current spring / summer seasons. My water supply is open. On the App it says it is watering when I do a quick run with any zone. But it doesn’t actually turn the sprinklers on. Can you explain what you did a bit more in detail. Thanks.

I know that I am not @Sujay, but thought I would jump in here. I would suggest first manually turning on each valve manually from the valve itself. This is usually done by turning the solenoid 1/4 turn counterclockwise. If the water turns on for each zone, then I would check out the common wire connections. If nothing, the water might seem to be off. We look forward to hearing back.