System won't manually engage

I recently purchased and installed a Rachio gen 2 - 8 zone controller. I manually tested all the zones and it worked fine. I have 6 zones connected (6 individual colored wire) and a C wire to the controller. Over the past few days we have received rain along with someone crushing one of my rotors with their car. I replaced the broken elbow and went to manually run the zone from my app (iPhone) and it did not kick on. I elected to reset the entire system via the app and reinstall it. Still none of the zones will water. I manually turned on one of the other zones from the yard valve box by turning the knob manually and water is definitely on.

I noticed that my property has a rain sensor on the side of the house - (RainBird wired sensor). The wire from the sensor runs down my fence and into a PVC tube in the ground. I am not sure where the wire goes as I didn’t connect any sensors to the controller.

Could this rain sensor be connected to one of the value boxes that is causing the system to not run water?

The sensor seems to be wired directly to the common before any valves. This would disconnect during a rain or cold event preventing watering.

You could go out and cut the wire a few inches above the PVC pipe, strip the wire, and twist them together using a weatherproof splice if you want to disconnect it.

Thank you for the info. You’re right it appears to be connected to one of the vavle boxes. So I assume since it is not directly connected to the Rachio controller the rain sensor feature won’t work?


If you wanted to, after you’ve disconnected the sensor outside, you could move it closer to where the controller is located and reconnect some 18 gauge wire, then extend it through the wall to the controller. Then, you could use the feature.

I’d recommend it if you feel comfortable doing that much to get it to work. An onsite sensor is nice to have. Just make sure it gets full sun.

Awesome, thank you.

Any recommendations on new sensors that work well with Rachio gen 2? The one I have now is RainBird Wired Sensor - cork. It’s about 8 years old.

Eight years is old. You could replace it with the same brand or another of the same type. It’s a good proven sensor. They make them for just rain, freeze, or rain/freeze. I’d get the rain/freeze version. I like the wired because it’s direct connected and no batteries.

Just be ready for the alerts in the cold season! It freezes at night and warms during the day, here in North Texas anyway. Since the alert is for rain, it’ll be that way for freezing too until an option is available to add a separate freeze sensor.

Here are sensors Rachio supports:

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Thank you again for all the help. I think I might disconnect the old one and rewire a new one to the controller

You’re welcome.

And welcome to the neighborhood!

Ok one last question - if I wanted to get arid of the current old Rainbird wired sensor, what do I do once I current the wires right above the PVC tube in the ground? Just twist all of them together and electrical tape or wire cap them?

@dpogarjr - some Rainbird sensors may have three wires (common, normally open and normally closed). Assuming that there are just two wires where you want to remove the Rainbird wired sensor, then yes twist them together and I’d use a waterproof wire nut (available at both Lowe’s and Home Depot) as the connection will be in the weather.

I would use the “rain skip” feature of the rachio rather than a physical sensor. You just need to link a local reporting station to your account. I have used this for 2 years and it works much better than a sensor.

Ok two questions:

  1. how do I disconnect a 3 wire sensor?
  2. where do you find the “rain skip” feature?

Found the rain skip feature -never mind.

Still interested in how to cut the 3 wires, thanks

Take a picture of the sensor and wires you are looking to disconnect.

There is usually three colors: White, brown, and yellow. Yellow is not normally used.