The perfect storm

Well, combination of a stuck valve, blown poly drip line, and an overnight business trip makes for an unenjoyable return home…anyone know of an inline flow sensor that works with z-wave? Trying to figure out How to alert myself when the system runs for 36+ hours straight…

And there is the culprit, once the water drained down.

I have this protection implemented.

I monitor length of time voltage is present at MV terminal of my Iro2. If voltage is present for more than 2 hours I receive a text message to my phone warning me of exceeding 2 hrs. I also get an email reporting same.

(I further process the signal for charting purposes. I integrate all of the ‘on’ times for the day and produce this ‘on time for the day’ chart: , and I separately integrate all of the ‘on’ times for the month and produce this ‘on time for the month’ chart: .)

You mention z-wave so that tells me you may too have a real time home automation processor, although not the same manufacturer. And if so, then the first paragraph is the suggested means to accomplish what you state: monitor MV terminal and set alarm conditions on it.

In my case I’m a hard wire guy (with exception of a little bit of X10 for schedule controlled lighting). My implementation of on/off monitoring at the MV terminal is an off-to-the-side relay contact closure (with appropriate electronics implemented between the MV terminal and the relay’s coil), with these contacts hard wired to my real time processor ( ) in my Node 0 closet across the house. I have my processor configured to do the time accumulation of the MV terminal’s ‘on’ time, to test for the alarm (2 hrs) condition, to send out the text and email communications, to do daily accumulation of ‘on’ time, to do monthly accumulation of ‘on’ time, and to produce the charts.

Hope this helps.

Best regards,


@a0128958 - I’m thinking, based on the problem description, that @tmcgahey 's Rachio thought it was through watering when it finished. I don’t think the MV monitoring would catch a valve that is stuck open, only a flow meter would on a system without a master valve.

@tmcgahey - one solution would be to put a master valve in before the other valves and configure the Rachio to use it. This way, when the Rachio thought it was done the water pressure to a stuck open valve would be removed.

Ahhhhhhhh. Correct.

My alarm implementation covers only the Iro2 functioning properly. In fact, I’ve never gotten an alarm that an Iro2 zone has been continuously ‘on’ for 2 hours or more. (Makes sense.)

I’ve thought for a while about expanding the protection out to a line break that allows water to run forever. My real time processor easily handles this with a flow sensor that has a pulse output. I haven’t put it in (yet) because it’s some amount of work to dig up the appropriate line, cut it, insert the flow sensor, and run the pulse signal output lines to the processor in the house (the rest is easy, including configuring the processor to integrate the pulses to gallons, and to implement an alarm of ‘More Than ‘X’ Gallons So Far Used for a Zone’).

A key design decision is where to insert the flow sensor.

A small (3/4" copper pipe) flow sensor can be used, but it would have to be out at the street, inserted between the meter and the check valve (not a lot of room, and a good amount of distance to run the signal and power wires). No digging required here because the check valve is already in an irrigation control box with a cover.

The alternative is a flow sensor designed for 2" PVC pipe. There are plenty of locations near the house that are usable. Digging required here, and, 2" sized flow sensors are not inexpensive.

An overall consideration for me, noting my Dallas location, is freeze protection for a flow sensor. It doesn’t get cold here often but it does happen (like a few weeks ago when it was in the teens).

My guess is this is a messy enough project (for me) such that I won’t do it until I have a disaster like @tmcgahey did. Then I’ll lament that I didn’t put in the flow sensor earlier.

Best regards,


I have been begging rachio to make the flow sensor data available for exactly this purpose.

I have problems with my dogs chewing up my drip tube so I want to plot the water velocity against the last 5 runs and shut down if it’s 1 sigma out

But no, I couldn’t find a zwave sensor that had a detection range that cover my small drip zones and my largest rotor zone

I guess I should have added that this has nothing really to do with Rachio. This was just a simple stuck valve that hung open after Rachio finished watering that zone. I have no idea if that break in the poly line has been there, just didn’t surface until the system ran for 36 hours straight, or if it burst after being pressurized for an abnormally long period of time…Either way, the picture of the water in that area is pushing 10" deep, so it ran wide open for quite a while. I’m going to start a GoFundMe for my water bill this month! :disappointed_relieved:

No real damage other than a muddy mess, and a slight concern as it washed some of the sand away from the pavers, so they are a little sloppy right now. I was able to literally pull a plug along my back fence and let a majority of the water drain out into the back portion of my property where I get flood irrigation. I guess the silver lining is that my fruit trees got a little extra drink!

So @a0128958, the checks and balance system you have in place would have done me no good, and while it sounds really interesting and ingenious, I’ll be blown away if you actually get it to trigger as I think I’ve only heard of 1 instance so far on the boards where Rachio actually was involved in hanging a valve open.

@DLane, the master valve idea might be a very viable option for me. The one concern I have is that I do have some remote water spigots around my yard that were plumbed into the supply line to the irrigation system. Can the master valve be triggered thru Rachio independent of a zone in the event I need to use the water spigot?

Correct for me. My current monitoring implementation is limited to watching the Iro2 for proper operation. So far (2 years), no failures have been detected.

I’ve got to put a flow sensor in the supply line (in advance of all zone valves) to expand my monitoring implementation out to cover:

  1. a broken zone valve.
  2. a broken pipe on supply side of zone valves.
  3. a broken pipe on zone side of the valves (requires a calibration of zone flow)
  4. a broken head (requires a calibration of zone flow)

It’s really very easy conceptually - just stick in a flow sensor as far upstream to the meter as possible. My automation processor can handle everything else, including the detection of if just a head breaks loose from the zone.

This is something the Iro Gen 3 could do to if Rachio wants to make hardware and electrical enhancements. But monitoring for a zone valve failure is not limited to only being available via an Iro feature.

Best regards,


@tmcgahey - if you have an unused terminal on the Rachio (I’m only using four of eight) you could trigger that zone and it would open up the master valve. If you’re using all 8 or 16 terminals, then there would have to be some “engineering” to get two sources to turn on the master valve.

For now I am using all 16 zone, however I am planning to combine some of my grass zones. The original design must have been for standard spray nozzles because there are only 6-7 sprinklers on each zone. At some point before I bought the house, everything was converted to Hunter MP Rotator nozzles, which work really well, but I can run 2-3 zones at one time and still stay under the GPM of my 3/4" supply line.

If I end up hard piping a few grass zones together, it will actually give me a free wire lead to run a master valve, saving me the need to trench a dedicated wire to the master valve.

Well, I’m at a loss. Down with strep, but I need to get my system back up and running…

I grabbed some new Hunter PVG valves on Friday to rebuild any and all valves that I haven’t done to this point. I started with the problematic zone first, pulled the bonnet and the diaphragm looked pristine. No wear, tear, or trash in the valve. Regardless, I replaced everything including the new bonnet and solenoid and turned the water back on, and the damn zone is still hung open!

So, I decide to unplug Rachio, just to make sure there wasn’t a rogue power spike keeping the zone on. Zone still hangs open.

Dialed the flow control on the individual valve all the way back, so in theory it should keep the valve from opening at all. Zone still hung open.

@robertokc, @Sprinklerman, anyone have ideas?

Oh, and now that all the water is drained away I see that there are in fact TWO splits in the poly drip line on this zone, both within 5 feet of each other.

@tmcgahey I feel your pain. I’ve been down with flu and now sinus infection.

Are the PGV’s one inch?
Are the PGV’s jar-top or with four screws?

1" PGV with screws @Sprinklerman

@tmcgahey Make sure the solenoid is tight.

Sometimes I’ve had debris get stuck on the inlet side of valve. When water is flowing it pushes against the diaphragm, holding it open. When I open the valve it falls back into the valve where I can’t see it, or barely see it. Try flushing the line with the bonnet off if you think there is debris in it.

Worse case: The bowl of the valve is cracked. I’ve never seen it in a PGV, but have in other valves.

This is my fear…I’ll pull it apart again, and see if I can flush anything out and inspect the body for cracks.

Here is a video about a Hunter valve repair. Did you install new waterproof wire nuts when you connected the new solenoid,

I honestly cannot think of anything else at the moment but i can find other resources.

Hunter valve troubleshooting

Yes, waterproof wire nuts were used for new solenoid. Tore it apart again, checked that everything was seated correctly, flushed the line out with the top off. Can’t see any cracks in the bowl of the valve. Still flowing wide open when I turn the water on.

Thinking out loud here…I haven’t attempted to fix the leaks yet, because with strep, the last thing I feel like doing is digging 2 giant holes.

Since sprinkler valves work by pressures on the front and back side of the diaphragm, is it possible that having full flow down stream (blown line) is not allowing the valve to build pressure behind the diaphragm to seal it?

Hope you feel well soon. Strep is no fun.


Well, I managed to bring myself to grab the shovel and work on the leaks yesterday. Got about a 2sq ft hole dug, only to throw my back out. I guess being laid up in bed for 2 days and jumping right out to digging holes wasn’t smart…

Anyway, there was too much water filling up the holes, but I found the two poly drip lines (tree zone and shrub zone) as expected, but I think there might also be a PVC line in the vicinity as well. Hopefully the water will subside by tonight and I can investigate more, but if there is in fact a PVC line there, I have NO idea what it is or where it goes. This could explain why no matter what I do, when the water is turned back on, it runs wide open…