Every so often often, just when you think that everything in your sprinkler system is working just perfect, something will go wrong. Either you will wake up to discover that magically somehow one of your sprinkler has turned itself from a sprinkler into a geyser! or a new pool exists where yesterday you had a valve box. Such is life. We fix them and move on. No need to stress.
I got a phone call the other night from my youngest brother who still lives at home. Since i moved away from home and since my middle brother moved away he has been charged with the task of maintaining the family sprinkler system and yard. (This doesn’t sound like it would be that big of a task or responsibility, however it is a HUGE responsibility because back when we installed the sprinkler system we didn’t have the good sense to look online for help installing the system. We simply relied on the advice we got from the workers at the local sprinkler supply store and/or the local big-box hardware store. And while the concept of installing a sprinkler system yourself seems quite simple, without the correct advice and instructions it is easy to make mistakes that you will regret for years to come(…like putting too many heads on a zone, or spacing sprinkler too far apart!) In hindsight, I wish with all my heart that we would have looked online and found “Sprinkler School” because it would have given us 100% of the information and instruction that we needed to have installed a proper and functionally sound sprinkler system.
So, for years now we have lived with the monster that we created. We need (desperately) to start over and install a new system from scratch (the RIGHT way) but till that day comes, we will continue to keep fixing and adjusting and tweaking our Frankenstein system!
My brother had called be from his cell phone as he was standing out in the yard. He explained to me that there was something wrong with one of the valves and that it was not working. He wanted to know if I could tell him how to fix it or give him some ideas about what was causing the problem. Unfortunately my troubleshooting superpowers are severely diminished because he is in Idaho and I am in Texas. Something about that kind of distance impedes and messes with my ability to figure out what is making things not work and why.
The good news is that there is a shortcut for fixing valves that makes the repair so easy that even your mom could do it if she had to! (Just kidding, if your mom is anything like mine, she can could solve world hunger, end war, fix the cars bad alternator and have dinner made for the family all before 6pm!) Nevertheless, the process to fix a broken valve is really really easy, and basically anyone who can read this can fix one themselves.
So I told him that I would send him a new valve from our online store if he thought he could get by for a day or two till the part could get to him. Here are the direction I sent him. You can follow these steps to fix your own valve once you have a new replacement handy and ready to install.
- Shut off the water to the valve manifold or the area where you are working and remove standing water if possible.
- Unscrew the solenoid and set it aside (be sure to keep it clean and out of any dirt or mud)
- Unscrew top of your valve (or unbolt the top) and remove it. Set it aside on a towel or a clean surface. Following the same procedure, open the top of the replacement valve you purchased
- Remove the internal parts from the defective valve, paying attention to the order and placement of the pieces. Discard the old pieces.
- Replace the discarded pieces with those from the new valve. (you may choose to use the new top from the replacement valve or continue to use the original) Pay attention to the alignment holes!
- Ensure the solenoid is wired correctly and matches the wiring of the other valves in the box (be sure to use grease or silicone filled wire nuts)
- Using the sprinkler controller activate the zone that corresponds with the valve you just repaired to confirm the repair was successful.
Most people are are surprised to find out that this repair is a recommended way of repairing a valve. The housing for valves are extremely durable and will continue to function as if it were a new valve for the life of the product or until it cracks or otherwise physically broken. The bonus for this type of repair is that you will have a spare solenoid on hand for future use in the event that you need one down the road!