Valve Finder Feature

It would be cool to be able to have a “valve finder” feature. The feature idea is that you could have a feature that would open and close the value solenoid very quickly making a chatter noise. (similar to the old Chat-R-Box product)

This would allow the home owner to walk the yard and listen for that distinct noise and find the valve. It would be cool if this feature was part of the system. This is great for homeowners and landscapers who maintain the yard and sprinkler system.

If this is a bit confusing, look up a product called “Chat-R-Box” for lawn sprinklers. Very cool!

P.S. this can also be done manually but you need 2 people. You remove the valve wire at the box and you turn on the station. You tap the valve wire on the controller position (opening and closing the valve) and send the other person off listening for the chatter.

Youtube video on the old product:


Oh interesting, never heard of that. I’ll be sure the product team gets this!


That would be a very interesting feature, if it would be possible to program it, without risk of damage to the Iro, or the valves.

I just finished a project this week, locating the 6 underground valves on our system. The original owner failed to provide that information to me, and I had never thought about it until I installed the Iro, and began to worry about where they were.

Ironically, my non-techy wife wondered if it would be possible to hear the valves clicking if we could switch them on and off rapidly, and I shrugged off her suggestion as not likely to work, and perhaps risky.

I ended up renting an Armada Pro-700 Wire Locator from Sprinkler Warehouse in Houston, and it did the job for me, but I spent about $100 overall for the rental, shipping and insurance. It’s very comforting to now know exactly where they all are, in case one ever fails, and I have no regrets about the effort, although the suggested feature in the Iro would have been very nice to have as a free and convenient alternative.

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I second the request.

@DavidGPope, just curious, assuming you’ve used one of these in the past, did you notice any impact to the solenoid’s performance after chattering it? Love the idea!

@vicw, great resource to recommend. Sometimes those buried valves can be very tricky to locate. Hopefully yours weren’t buried too deep once you found them. I still remember a commercial system I worked on years ago that was all direct bury. Every time there was a problem we’d have to trace wires. Good times :expressionless:

Emil… I have used it in the past. The only drawback is that some solenoids don’t make a “loud chatter” noise. The other way is learning how these “valve finders” work and implementing it in the Rachio.

“Use a valve locator. Valve locators find lost valves by tracing the wires from the controller to the lawn sprinkler system valve location. A valve locator consists of a transmitter, a receiver, two lead wires and a grounding stake. The valve locator transmits a beeping signal along the wire to locate irrigation valves. Using a valve locator is an accurate way to find lost valves without damage to the lawn or garden.”

Interesting idea. This would also allow you to track and locate your wiring if needed.

Exactly… it also opens the door for Rachio to sell additional accessories. I currently own a commercial valve finder. You hook the transmitter up to the valve wire and then use the receiver to follow the line. The receiver is reading a frequency or tone and as you get closer to the valve, the tone gets louder and faster.

@Emil I was very happy with Sprinkler Warehouse, They were very prompt and courteous with responses, shipping and crediting back my deposit as soon as they received the returned Armada.

We’ve been in our used home for 10 years, and for most of it, I didn’t even realize that the valves were underground. Coming from Southern California, there was no need to bury them. The former owner never conveyed where they were, assuming he knew. I never gave them a thought until I installed the Rachio.

Actually, I found almost all of them in short order, but I wasted the better part of a day trying to track down the last two. I finally figured out that they were under a massive holly bush/tree, and I had to prune away low branches just to get to them. I guess when the holly was first planted and the sprinklers were placed, they were to the side of the holly.

It’s very gratifying to finally know where they are, in case one ever fails. Seems odd to me that none of them has failed in 19 years, whereas I experienced several fails on my above ground valves in California.

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Man, that is a super cool idea. For me, ignoring the find my valve feature, I like the idea as it would help me identify which of the 4 valves in one of my boxes controls a specific zone. The wires have lost too much of their color so the red black and brown are indistinguishable.

I didn’t even know a chatterbox existed…I love this forum, it’s super cool.

Hell I didn’t know I could rent sprinkler gear from Texas…super cool.

Hey fellas, this video is for you all.


@vicw, great to hear Sprinkler Warehouse provided a top notch experience. They have a great website with good content. Had you used them before? Just curious how you stumbled across them.

This happens more times than I can remember, but usually the entire valve box gets covered by the bush (or pine tree). I’ve also seen a few times where the landscaper buried the valve box under sod and it took an aeration to hook the lid with a tine :laughing:

Did you experience wiring issues with the valves in California? Usually in-ground valves (particularly in valve boxes) are very low maintenance. If the valve box floods and water gets into the wiring, then replacing the wire nuts usually does the trick.

@plainsane, great point. Wire colors are pretty good at camouflage :wink: Sometimes wires can get spliced between the controller and the valve as well – causing all sorts of confusion for the victim homeowner or sprinkler tech.

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Yes, previously, I had found one of the underground valve covers under my lawn. The round detents on the cover were both perforated, which allowed water, dirt, whatever to get down to the valve & wiring area. I tried to find a replacement, but apparently mine was a bit obsolete, and the store and online covers that I found were all too big or small, or just suspiciously different. The retailer websites generally showed very little if any detail on the covers, which wasn’t helpful at all.

@emil I didn’t want to have to replace the whole undergound assembly, so with some more Google research, I found the exact replacement shown at Sprinkler Warehouse. Their website showed a detailed drawing complete with measurements, and I ordered three of them, since they were so cheap. They shipped exactly what was described on the site.

@emil The Southern California valves were all above ground. No wiring problems, just valve failures, mostly diaphragms as I recall. I didn’t know underground valves existed until we retired and moved to cold country, in North Carolina. We have much, much lower mineral content in the water here (about 30 ppm), which, along with the protected underground placement, I suspect helps to explain the extended life of the valves.