Weirdest Problem

Rachio 3 owner. I loved the product last year when we purchased it. 2019 rolls around and we ran a test about 6 weeks ago. The system worked perfectly, as we were expecting. We only have 3 zones (small yard), but I still think it’s good to test before the watering season really begins where I live.

Two weeks ago the heat and humidity start. I tried to do a Quick Run rather than let our normal schedule run because we didn’t need to water THAT much. The system reports Quick Run has started without issue and my app shows which zone is watering and the clock is running. No water is coming out of the sprinkler heads. Repeated the process for the remaining zones. Same problem. Then we tried to let the Rachio run its normal schedule at 4:00 am. The timer is running perfectly in the Android app and it goes through all of the zones just fine, but not a single sprinkler head shoots water.

Wifi is perfect. The Rachio 3 worked perfectly 6 weeks ago when we did a test run. All sprinkler heads are in great shape. Nothing was changed by us. I did a reset. The Rachio 3 still can’t get my water out of the sprinkler heads.

Any ideas or suggestions? I messaged Customer Support. It said they would get back to me in 48 to 72 hours. Pffft. I sent that email, got a ticket number and it’s been EIGHT days without a response.

@ALB123 - several things to check:

  1. Has there been any digging/planting in the yard since the test run i.e. cutting the field wire?
  2. Is there a rain sensor in-line on the C(ommon) wire?
  3. What happens when a valve is manually activated - bleed screw or turning solenoid screw?
  4. If one has access to an ohm meter what is the resistivity down the C(ommon) line and back through a zone line when disconnected from the Rachio?

Thanks for the quick response, DLane! :+1:

  1. No digging or planting. However, we recently had the house examined for insulation efficiency. There were a few spots where they did have to blow in some new insulation. So, if the wire was cut, let’s just say, would the Rachio 3 identify that? Or would it think that the sprinkler heads were working just fine and report that on my app? That’s what’s happening now. The Rachio 3 and system App aren’t overly complicated. When I ask for a Quick Run it’s telling me it’s working perfectly.

  2. I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to answer this question you’ve asked. Under the cover of my Rachio I only have one wire connected to Common and then one wire in each zone I’m using. In this case, zones 1, 2 & 3.

  3. I’m not exactly sure what a bleed screw is or where it is. There is a notebook-sized plastic box dug into our lawn, close to the house. I can lift that cover off and I see what I believe is the three solenoids. I don’t remember seeing a screw on them, but I wasn’t looking for one. Is that what I should try turning? How much? Clockwise or Counterclockwise?

  4. I do have a voltmeter.that has an Ohm setting. I haven’t used it forever, but I just put in new batteries and it works just fine. I have only used it to test the AC power of various outlets in the house or elsewhere on my property. Could you remind me how to perform this Ohm test and what should I be looking for? What should the reading be if things are good? What should be displayed if things are not good?

At the Rachio panel, do I touch common with black and zone one with the red probe? Repeat for the other 2 zones. If I go to the box outside do I perform the same task? This might be a stupid question, but should I perform these Ohm tests with the Rachio “running” (Start a Quick Run for 15 minutes and then measure the solenoids outside?) How about measuring the panel inside the house with it “running”? Again, what should I want to see on the voltmeter screen?

@alb123 - You’re welcome.

  1. The Rachio won’t sense a broken wire.

  2. Many older sprinkler systems didn’t have a connection for a rain sensor. So the old way was to wire a normally closed switch into the common wire. When the rain sensor got wet, it would open the circuit and prevent the current from completing the path to the solenoids. This way the sprinkler system thought it was watering, but in fact it wasn’t. Look for a small device on a gutter or fence near the route the wiring would take from the controller to the valves. Could be a long shot.

  3. If you can post a picture of the valve box with a relatively close shot of the valve/solenoid we should be able to figure it out. Some valves have a separate screw that when opened will actuate the valve. Others have marking on the solenoid to turn it a quarter or half a turn or so. I just saw another one where there was a tab that could be moved to manually open or close the valve. If you know the valve make and model, there should be instructions on manually running the valve on the internet.

  4. Great! Put the meter on Ohm and the smallest scale, if there are multiple resistivity scales. It doesn’t matter which meter wire goes to which wire when testing resistivity (it does for DC voltage!). Disconnect the wires from the Rachio, so we know there is no backfeed through the device, and test them loose. Resistivity should be in the 20 - 50 Ohm range. Infinite resistivity (the lazy 8 symbol) will indicate a broken circuit. Broken circuit could be a cut wire, a loose connection or corrosion in a connect. The test only needs to be performed at the Rachio.

If the Rachio is running a zone then use the AC voltage scale and one should see 24 V potential between the Common and running zone terminal.

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Thanks for all the wonderful help, DLane. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I was gone for almost 3 weeks camping. Something which I’ll never do again, but that’s another subject.

I am so embarrassed to admit this, but here we go. The gas company was sending people to their customer homes to evaluate their home insulation and see if there were any weak/light spots. In my case, there were a couple areas in walls on the front of my house and my attic was under-insulated. The nice thing is, they’ll get the house all up to speed with modern insulation in those spots. They did the entire attic too.

These guys would remove pieces of my vinyl siding and drill little test holes to know where my home may be deficient. They did a great job and left a few days before I tried using my Rachio 3. Well, it turns out they shut off the outdoor valve in the front of my home, which is concealed by bushes and flower beds.

My thinking is, they must have shut it off because they don’t know what my watering schedule is and they didn’t want to potentially get soaked if they were still working in the front. I don’t know why the heck I didn’t think about it maybe being shut off and that gas company crew sure didn’t mention anything to me.

They were total boneheads. An inspector comes around to double-check their work. He’s the one who figured it out. And when he climbed a ladder to look around the attic, he ended having to take a couple of trips up and down that ladder. That’s because the bonehead crew left a brand new DeWALT nail gun along with a DeWALT power drill. The inspector said the 2 pieces cost $400-$500. How do you forget where you left your power tools? Especially three people.

Sorry for the long-winded response. I’m embarrassed. no doubt. Maybe my story will help another Rachio customer some day. Again, thank for all of the helpful tips. I’ve created a text file with your suggestions and put it on Google Drive.

Thank you!!


This…I need to hear :wink:


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