Sprinklers can be confusing if you’re unsure what you’re dealing with. That’s why at Sprinkler Master Repair, we’re here to help you know all you need when dealing with your sprinkler wiring. Across all of our franchise locations, including Colorado Springs, Fresno, Reno, Boise, Lincoln, and all in Utah — with Logan, Utah County, Salt Lake City, Davis County, West Jordan/Sandy, and Weber County, we offer the best parts, service, and work at an affordable price!

To best help you on the journey of understanding sprinkler wires, we’ll be breaking things down by purpose, parts, pros and cons, common problems, and other factors. We’re doing what we can to ensure that you know what to do with your sprinkler wires. If you do need any additional help of any kind, however, be sure to check out this link to get in touch with your local Sprinkler Master Repair location today!

ITS PURPOSESprinkler Wire Repair

The purpose of the sprinkler wire is to deliver electricity from the timer to the automatic valves, which allows the valves to open. Every valve has a solenoid with two wires; one common wire, and one zone wire. The common wire is usually white but can be any color as long as it’s hooked to the common slot in the sprinkler timer. It’s important for the common wire to be connected to every zone.

On the contrary, the zone wire is any wire that’s hooked up to the specific zone. These are usually different colors. The two wires are connected to either end of the solenoid wiring but never connected together and run underground to the sprinkler timer. Each zone wire is hooked to a separate zone slot on the sprinkler timer. If two zone wires are connected together at any point, they will both turn on at the same time. However, if a common wire is connected to a zone where the sprinkler timer is, it will fail.

Check out this video to learn more about sprinkler wires.

Names of Parts

Sprinkler wire is generally one wire bundle with many strands of smaller 18-gauge wire inside it.

  • Wire Strands: These strands usually come in 3 to 8 wires but can go up to 12 or more. You will always need one extra wire in the bundle than the number of valves. For example, if you have four valves you will need a minimum of five strands of wire, with the fifth wire being the common wire. When running new wire, try to have more than the minimum. If wires break, it makes it easier to fix or add zones with the provided, extra wire.
  • Wire Nuts: These are used to connect the solenoid and wire from the timer.
  • Sprinkler Nodes: These are small sprinkler timer that fits in a valve box.
  • Wire Strippers: These are used to cut and strip the wire coating off.
  • Wire Testers: The cheap way is to get three, 9-volt batteries and put them together. You can then use them to open the solenoid or test of the wire is broken. They also make a tool that sends out a signal in a pulse to turn on valves and can help find broken wires too.
  • Multimeter Tool: This tests the voltage and resistance to tell if you have power. Volts need to be between 24-28. You can also use this to check for resistance. Usually, there needs to be between 20-60 ohms to know the solenoid and wire are both good.

Sprinkler Valve WiringPros and Cons

  • Wires can be run a very long distance, but the longer they are, the easier they become to be cut by shovels or other objects.
  • It’s hard to determine where they are broken since they run underground.
  • They can become brittle, burnt, or exposed over time much like other wiring units.
  • One pro is that they do allow you to have a sprinkler timer run the sprinkler, making it generally easier to water the lawn.

Common Problems with Sprinkler Wires

One of the most common problems in any sprinkler system is a valve not turning on. Most often that is caused by electrical problems. There can only be 3 sources to an electrical problem — a bad wire, timer, or solenoid. You can start diagnosing either at the timer or the solenoid.

Your best tool for diagnosing is the multimeter. When using the multimeter to test a sprinkler system, the red probe will be for the valve wire, while the black wire is for the common wire. Turn the center knob to the correct setting and the probes will connect.


Sprinkler wiring may be a bit difficult to understand at first, but by calling any of our Sprinkler Master Repair locations through clicking this link, you’ll be able to get everything set up, or fixed, in no time at all! At every Sprinkler Master Repair location, we install the best and repair the rest!

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