Zone wont shut off

I have this problem when I use the rachio app. one zone starts running and won’t stop when i use the rachio app to water a different zone. How do I fix this?

@franz I am a new Rachio customer. I purchased the Rachio to save a percentage on my water bills.

I have the same issue just a week after installing the controller, where zone 1 won’t turn off. Even when I change the wiring so that “real” zone 1 is controlled by zone 2 on the controller, zone 1 still won’t turn off.

I never had any issues with the old controller, but from all the threads I’m reading it seems that Rachio controllers are basically too weak (in voltage) to reliably close the solenoids that old-school controllers close just fine. Just had a sprinkler expert check out the valves today and he saw no issues with zone 1’s valve. (FYI I don’t know how to tell if my valves are AC or DC but nowhere in the app setup or on the instructions did it warn me clearly about that.)

Between the time spent debugging this issue, the already-wasted water from the zone running for hours while I was out for the weekend until a neighbor called me to report it, and the future risk of that happening again, is there any way I can keep my Rachio?

I’m just not willing to invest hours and hours needlessly cleaning valves or doing all kinds of back and forth with support just to make this high-tech controller work - but don’t get me wrong I love what you guys are doing and will eventually switch once the bugs are worked out. For now I’m planning to return to Costco but if you can provide me with some easy options to try before going this route, I’d be willing to try them. Thank you.

You were misinformed about how irrigation valves work. While there are DC latching valves designed for low voltage battery controllers, Rachio (and likely your old controller) is designed for a more common 24VAC valves. These valves need energy to turn ON and stay ON, but the only way to turn them off is to shut the power off delivered to the valve, at that point there is an internal spring that actually turns off the valve.

What kind of valve is it? Orbit, rain bird, etc…? If your expert already took apart the valve to make sure that there are no debris interfering with the valve operation, than likely the solenoid on the valve needs to be replaced, either due to a worn out spring and/or the rubber gasket on the end of the plunger.

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Thanks Eugene. After six years of owning my home, why would the solenoid decide to break just at the same time as I switch controllers? That seems very unlikely.

Also I forgot to mention, the Rachio controller is able to turn off the zone about one in three times. So when I manually cycle it on and off, one or two times it won’t turn off even though the app says it’s off, but then when I turn it on again and off again it will turn off sometimes. It’s haphazard.

The guy was going to charge me $100 to take apart the valve and inspect for debris, but he said he can usually tell by how it feels when it turns on and off while holding his hand on the valve whether there’s any debris or issues with it, and he said it felt totally smooth when it turned on and off and he didn’t hear anything or see anything to indicate otherwise. That was enough for me, coming from an expert, to know that the problem is almost definitely with the digital controller.

Unless I hear any other tips in the next day or two, I will switch back to my old controller and see how things run. I’m betting there will be zero problems.

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I only speak from experience. I have a master valve, so one of the valves getting stuck was not a big issue, what started to happen is that after one particular zone would run, later zones would trigger a leak detection and disable themselves to prevent water loss. Manually turning the solenoid on the valve to cycle it would fix the issue, until the zone ran again.

I’ve took the valves apart, did not find any debris, and the issues continued. Finally I discovered that the spring came loose from the plunger, after I reattached it the issues have stopped.

I have orbit valves, personally I’m somewhat disappointed with how loosely the spring is attached to the plunger. If the problem returns soon, I may end up switching the valve for a different brand.

Here is a video about how the solenoids work, pay attention to the spring, it is responsible for moving the plunger & seal back into place, after the controller stops holding it in the ON position.

There is nothing the controller can do in order to help the spring to close the valve, if it resumes power delivery to the valve, it would act against the spring and open the valve instead of closing it.

I have the same issue. I only have 4 zones, they all worked fine with the previous controller. After I installed the Rachio 3 controller, I was able to start and stop all of them. The first few days it worked fine, then eventually one of the zones stopped shutting off. I know Rachio will tell me to do the things above, and I will certainly waste my time doing it, but all four zones are relatively new. I mean by using occam’s razor, it appears all people posting had well functioning sprinkler systems with the old controllers, and all of a sudden when they switched to Rachio, a zone starts failing (the interesting things is, that NOT ALL zones fail, but a single one, and I am also curious if it is the last one in sequence? first one? how much power is sent initially by the controller, how much at the end, is it stable? etc.). I think Rachio needs to look into their complaints database and recreate the issue, as even if something fails outside of their device, it appears that their device is the original culprit, and none of us had the issue until the switch to Rachio.

In statistics, when you study the cause and effect, you have to learn that correlation does not imply causation (wiki link).

Valves which do not “shut off” do not usually fail completely. What usually happens is the time to turn off is increased, meaning the valve may take 5, 10 or some other number of minutes after it is dis-energized to actually turn off. During the regular schedule, when you are not paying attention to the irrigation, you are unlikely to even notice the increased runtime, meanwhile after a new system is installed and you have a clear indication of when the valve should start & stop, all of a sudden issues are apparent.

Rachio controller is using the AC supply to power the valves. You can use a multi-meter in order to measure the voltage output of the supply and let us know if it is much higher than 24VAC.

P.S. Solenoid valves, which is what Rachio is designed to control, are actually a natural anti-surge devices. The coil inside the solenoid is an inductor (link), which is a type of device which works against a quickly changing current, such as a surge when the valve is turned ON. Personally I believe that any power issues would primarily effect established customers, whereas valves which are turned ON on a daily basis would start failing, rather then those the controller turned on for the first time.


Gene, I understand that correlation doesn’t imply causation, but people in this forum seem very convinced that it must be the fault of the sprinkler system and not the conotroller even though our systems ran and shut off just fine before we switched controllers.

I’ll switch back to my old controller today just to be sure it isn’t the system, and I’ll post back.

Currently i’m able to reliably reproduce the zone 1 not shutting off about 1/3 of the time when using manual run in Rachio.

OK, so when that happens, disconnect the zone 1 wire at the controller. If it doesn’t stop watering, the valve is almost certainly bad.


@jaydge88 Alas you guys are not the first to think that their new controller is the source of troubles. I dare say not a month goes by where we are not helping troubleshoot a new install. Controller is rarely a source. Circuit Rachio uses to control the valves is relatively simple (just a triac with a surge suppressor), and issues with the controller show up as a zone not turning on, rather than turning off. Looking forward to seeing how well the valve works with your old controller. Make sure to run it at least 10 times to make sure you catch a 1 in 3 chance of the valve not working.

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I have had a Rachio 3e controller operating 3 zones, 1-2 and 3 for about a month now. It has been working great until last week, when zone one would not turn off. After reading the posts in this forum, I determined the solenoid was bad and replaced it a few days ago and it was working fine again. Fast forward to today and zone one is again not turning off. I have 2 Lawn Genie Electric siphon irrigation valves and one orbit… The Lawn Genie on Zone 1 is the one that I keep having problems with. Any suggestions as to what the problem might be?

@brian61 - another possibility is dirt in the valve. Flush out the valve or replace the innards of the valve.

So you mean to tell me that everyone including myself who installed a rachio controller and had zone 1 stuck open only after switching controllers is not evidence that something is flaky with the rachio controller? Seems like cop out to me. Why would every single person posting have the same issue with zone 1 being stuck open? That is not simply a mere coincidence but evidence of a flaw with the rachio controller.

If replacing the valve and or solenoid solved the problem that is evidence/proof that the problem was not the Rachio controller.

But why always zone 1 and why only after installing a rachio controller?

@eaf63 It is not always zone 1. I have seen threads here where zones other than 1 won’t turn off or won’t turn on. And this doesn’t only happen after installing a Rachio controller. This is where people come when they have problems installing Rachio as others here have said. But I have seen threads where the person had used a Rachio for 1 or 2 years and then had a problem with a valve not turning off or on. And I am sure if you looked at users of other controllers there would be lots of instances of failed solenoids and valves. Why the prevalence of zone 1 I don’t know. But if I had to guess that’s the first valve in the water line and that’s where dirt in the water has the first chance to be trapped.

If your Rachio is new and replacing the solenoid and/or valve doesn’t solve the problem the Rachio is still under warrenty and Rachio support is pretty good at responding.

Don’t forget that virtually everyone has a zone 1. Far more than those who have a zone 16.
statistics and all that jazz (yes, installers are likely to install zones starting with zone 1 even though that is not a requirement. :slight_smile:

Rachio opens the door to the water pipe and holds it open for water to go through. Once it turns off power the door is supposed to close itself using a spring. Rachio is not involved in the closing. All rachio is doing is putting out enough electricity to hold that door open with more force than the spring that is trying to close it. I’m using the word door when the real word is valve, but i hope the visual will make it easier to internalize.

If you remove power from the rachio, perhaps by remove the wire to that zone or by removing power from the entire Rachio unit, and the valve still stays open then its not an electrical problem anymore -science suggests this is more likely to be a mechanical problem. Rachio does not have any batteries onboard to keep it powered in an outage (which honestly i think is a shame, i would have loved to have some amount of battery reserve living in the brown-out state of california, perhaps as an option). But for your purposes, once power is pulled the rachio is dead and valves are supposed to go to their dormant closed state.

I suggest that when you put in your new rachio there may be a fair amount of stop/start cycles done as a part of testing the installation, schedules and whatnot. This may contribute to a valves demise ie if you had a bad valve or a valve about to go bad, a bunch a stop/starts may contribute and make it happen about the time when you put in the rachio. The correlation with Rachio has less to do with the Rachio and more to do with with cycling a declining valves more than normal, thus there is a weak correlation with new sprinkler controller. The fact that it is a rachio is noise, any sprinkler controller could have made that happen if you cycled valves a lot as a part of installation.

In my case, i knew that my old controller had equally or even older valves than the old timer. I try to proactively replace valves before they go bad, so for me i replaced them all as a part of the rachio install. I knew i wanted filters for my valves, and i knew i wanted valves where the filter could be cleaned without taking apart the valve itself. I got a hunter valve, model Hunter - ACZ075-25. It has a 150 micron aluminum mesh screen that is easily cleaned from the outside as well as a pressure regulator.
It replaced 20 year old rainbird valves, that seemed to work but i’d rather be safe than sorry.

So far these valves have been great, and given the cost i think its a well made investment to pick good valves. Especially since a stuck zone here in the SF bay area can cost me hundreds of dollars in waterbills.

If you like to read about causation and correlation, this is a decent paper published in the UK.
Illusions of causality: how they bias our everyday thinking and how they could be reduced


From my experience, the controller is almost the last thing I ever expect to have issues but always the first thing I check when trouble shooting. The reason for this is you don’t have to dig anything up but 9 times out of 10 it is in the field. When you have wire and mechanical things in the ground they tend to fail and have issues over time especially when they are switched off for significant amounts of time(i.e. rainy season, winter, etc.).

I usually suspect the controller when lightning and power surges are involved.

Just my 2 cents.

I landed here searching weathermatic zone issues. I exactly know what you mean. I replaced 6 valve top parts with new guts (Diaphragm and solenoid). The home is 8 yrs old. The issues started since 1 yr back ( Or atleast I started noticing).
Now I have one valve still lets water go out little bit as one of th heads oozes little bit of water when the valve is supposedly closed. I don’t know what to try. I opened the bonnet, cleaned everything and tried it couple of times.

When replacing the “top parts with new guts” are you replacing the bonnet top piece as well?

While it is pretty rare, the body of the valve can have a crack in the diaphragm seat area, which can cause this…Sometimes they can be impossible to see. About the only way to fix that is to replace the whole body.