Fixing Sprinkler Valves
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Automatic sprinkler valves are the electrically activated valves that control the flow of water to different zones in a sprinkler system. When issues arise in a sprinkler zone, it's almost always a problem with the sprinkler valve. The automatic sprinkler valve has 2 broad types of issues: mechanical and electrical. Sprinkler Timers and the automatic timer are tied together via wires. The electrical part on the sprinkler valve is called the solenoid.
The important mechanical parts are the diaphragm, flow control, and the bleeder valve. The housing contains all the parts.
Solenoids are typically cylinders that screw into the top of automatic valves. They have a metal rod that extends and retracts, controlling flow of water through a sprinkler zone.
When a sprinkler solenoid is beginning to fail, the reliability of the valve will begin to falter. Zones will not turn on reliably, not turn off reliably, and in some cases not turn on at all unless manually actuated.
To manually activate a sprinkler solenoid, take it and rotate it counter-clockwise. This will pull the rod out enough to allow water to flow through the valve. If the water does not go through a valve after manually actuating, then the problem is almost certainly not with the solenoid, and you should look into water pressure, potential pipe breaks, or even other parts in a valve.
The diaphragm is a rubber piece that wraps around the housing. This piece of rubber basically seals everything together. When dirt or debris gets in the rubber seal, it can prevent the diaphragm from sealing shut, so a sprinkler zone may fail to turn off.
When the rubber seal is starting to get blocked off, you may not be able to get the debris to wriggle loose by shaking the body of the valve. In this case, it may not even be debris, it could be a rotten or torn diaphragm. Either way, a valve can be torn apart and cleaned out. When taking apart a valve to clean and check the diaphragm, be careful to keep track of what parts and screws go where.
Take apart the valve, clean each part, and carefully put everything back together. Hopefully this solves any problems in a valve!
Flow Control Valve
The flow control valve is pretty self-explanatory: It controls the flow of water throught the valve. Most often, this valve is just left wide open, but can be adjusted if there is too much pressure working its way through the system. The flow control (as well as the bleeder valve) can be used to knock some dirt and debris loose from the sprinkler valve. If you're having issues with a zone htat won't turn off and you're suspicious that it could be in your valve, tightening the flow control valve all the way and then loosening it can help to knock dirt out of the diaphragm and get your valve functioning normally again.
If you have a lot of overspray or misting coming out of a sprinkler zone, it could help to adjust the flow control to restrict water flow to an amount where there's no misting.
The bleeder valve on a sprinkler valve is really important, especially when winterizing a sprinkler system. A bleeder valve is a small valve that is designed to relieve pressure from the valve. When there is a lot of pressure (for example, when water is freezing in a sprinkler pipe), a blleder valve can be used to help relieve some pressure from the valve body, hopefully preventing catastrophic damage such as a cracked valve body. These need to be tightened each time a sprinkler system is started up in the spring, and can be opened up every year when a system is winterized.
While sprinkler valves have a lot of moving parts to them, and are impressive pieces of engineering in a sprinkler system, most of the time they aren't that difficult to fix if you know what you're doing. If you've looked at all the different pieces in the sprinkler valve but you haven't fixed it, make sure it's actually the sprinkler valve and not a pipe that's burst, or a wiring issue. If worst comes to worst with a sprikler valve, they're not too terribly difficult to replace, you just need to make sure you put the replacement valve in facing the correct direction.
If you're not sure if you can find the problem in your sprinkler system or you're worried about causing further damage to your system, don't hesitate to call your nearest Sprinkler Master. You can find the closest Sprinkler Master branch by clicking HERE