Sprinklers work in the afternoon… but not in the morning

This is the strangest thing, and I’m not sure how to begin to troubleshoot.

My system has 8 zones, 4 in the backyard and 4 in the front yard. Two valve boxes with 4 valves in each box, all wired to a Rachio 3. The system was installed about six months ago and has worked fine… until recently.

I noticed a few mornings ago that the front sprinklers weren’t running during their morning schedule, even though the Rachio app said they were. The back zones were all working fine. I went to work and came home that afternoon prepared to do some troubleshooting – and everything worked perfectly. I assumed it was just some random glitch, but the same thing happened the next day, and the day after that. Front zones won’t run in the morning, but around 11:00am everything fixes itself. The backyard zones work all the time.

There’s definitely water running through the lines. I can physically turn the top of the sprinkler valves and the sprinklers go on. The Rachio app thinks everything is working, and the controller is blinking blue as if the sprinklers are running. But at the valve box there’s obviously nothing happening. The valves don’t try to open. Until the afternoon, when everything works perfectly again.

My initial assumption was that there was a break in the wiring somewhere, but that doesn’t make sense. How can a broken wire fix itself every day, and break again the next morning??

I’m completely stumped. Any ideas why this is happening?

Are you running the same type of schedule on all 8 zones? Click on schedule and see what type schedule you are running and check what it says under times(i.e. before sunrise). That’s where I would start looking if all the zones work properly it sounds like a difference in scheduling.

It’s a mix. For example, I have a Flex Daily schedule for the front and back lawns (ending by sunrise). The back lawn runs, the front lawn doesn’t. Another front zone is a Flex Daily (as needed at 5:45am), and I have two other front zones that are Fixed (running a few days a week at 6:00am). None of these run.

In the backyard I have a quick garden run every morning at 8:00am, and another Flex Daily zone running as needed at 5:30am. Because they’re in the backyard they work perfectly.

But apart from the schedule, I can’t even get the sprinklers to run using the Quick Run option. If I try to start a Quick Run, the app and the controller both show the sprinklers as running, but they aren’t. Unless it’s after 11:00am when everything starts working as expected.

So if you do a manual start after 11am the front works?

Try to Disabled the end by sunrise and do a quick run

Yes. Tried a manual start on the front lawn this morning at around 9:30am – nothing. Tried a manual start on the front lawn just after 11:00am – works perfectly.

I’ll try this tomorrow morning and see if it helps. Thanks.

The fact that this is intermittent makes it harder to troubleshoot. By the time I’m home from work the whole system is back to normal.

What time zone are you in? Like @Anthony said, try disabling the end by sunrise and do a quick run. Or like the it guy always says try rebooting it.

I’m in Washington state. I did try unplugging and plugging the controller back in. Is there another way to reboot?

@randych - couples of things to consider when you go to each individual schedule one make sure that the schedule is enabled and second is that each zones have a check mark :white_check_mark: within the schedule

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Everything is enabled. I’m not sure where to look for the check mark.

I’ve removed the “sunrise” setting, and just finished double-checking all the wiring. I’m going to try running them every hour or so this evening to see when they stop working.

Go to your calendar tab than click on schedule and there you will see zones check wich zones are included in your schedule

I suggest checking your wiring connections, particularly the ground connection, in the front valve box. You probably have twist connections with wire nuts. I’ll bet the sun warms up the box and causes the connection to either make or break.

They’re not the basic twist connector that I’m familiar with, they’re some kind of waterproof connector that I’ve never seen before. I did go out last night and really check connections in the box… and everything worked this morning. So I may have improved things just by moving them around. I also turned off all my other schedules to see what would happen, so that could have had an impact.

Next steps: re-connect the ground to make sure it’s tight. Then delete all of my current schedules and re-create them one by one to see if there’s some weird conflict happening.

At any rate, the fact that one of my front zones ran this morning (for the first time in a week) is a good sign. Thanks everyone for the help.

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Have you tried deleting all schedules/etc or a system re-set?


Your start time for the front schedule may overlap with the maximum possible run time of the rear schedule

@Lars wrote: Your start time for the front schedule may overlap with the maximum possible run time of the rear schedule

This happened to me after a Rachio update. The solution @Lars mentioned turned out to be the one that fixed things up.

If you set the zones on the same schedule, the Rachio will balance things out itself. As an example, I run turf, flowers, drips, etc., all on different zones. But, the zones, are all set to Flex Daily, end before 0600 hrs, no water on Tuesdays. The Rachio incorporates the other data I have set for sprinklers, drips rates, etc., then picks and chooses which zone to run when and which to soak, etc., balancing the whole shebang so I don’t have to schedule anything else.

If that doesn’t fix it (it should), you might want to explore your WiFi connection security.

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There should really be a collision warning in the software.