Figuring out old sprinkler system

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Old 03-29-19, 03:38 PM
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Figuring out old sprinkler system

We just moved into a 20 year old home with an existing sprinkler system that does not work properly. It has an Orbit timer controller with four zones. There are four zones around the house. Three zones for above ground sprinklers and a fourth zone for drip or shrub watering. However there are six zone valves wired into the system. I think it was originally a two zone system and then two more zones were added. Just a guess.

The first photo is zones 1 & 3. You can see a Hunter PGV valve "A" in the center with 2 red wires. Then there is a Rainbird valve on either side. My guess is the water needs to go through the Hunter valve to send it to either of the Rainbird valves. So, I assume to operate zone 1 on the left I have to open both the Hunter valve "A" and the left Rainbird valve for that zone to get water. Similarly, if the right Rainbird valve is zone 3 then again I have to power both the Hunter "A" and the right Rainbird valve to get water to zone 3.

The next photo is the second set of zone valves. Looks just like the first photo. There is a Hunter PGV "B" in the center and a Rainbird valve on either side. The left Rainbird is for zone 4 and the other is for zone 2. So, again I am guessing I need to power both the Hunter "B" and the left Rainbird valve for zone 4 and the Hunter and the right Rainbird for zone 2.

So, how do I wire it? Can I wire the Hunter valve and the appropriate zone together? If I do then the Hunter valves are wired to two different zones. Meaning zone 1 gets Hunter "A" and Rainbird 1. Zone 2 gets Hunter "B" and Rainbird 2. Then zone 3 gets Hunter "A" and Rainbird 3. Zone 4 gets Hunter "B" and Rainbird 4. Will this work since the Hunter valves are each wired to two different zones?

Or is there a way to just have both of the Hunter valves always open?

What is the correct way to do this?
 
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Old 03-29-19, 06:31 PM
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I'm just shooting from the hip here as I've never seen one valve feeding two. The problem is you can't tie the center valve to the left valve and the right valve. That would mean all three valves would work together. So if you tied it to the left valve..... how would the right one activate it ?

I'd think you have three and three zone valves for six zones of watering.
Going to have to study the wiring further.
 
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Old 03-29-19, 07:06 PM
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My thought was there were originally only two zones, The two Hunter zones. Then they split each one into two. Why they didn’t just add one more zone in each location I don’t know. The Orbit timer controller is only for 4 zones. I don’t know how you would get six to work. Also, small yard, not 6 zones there.

Anyway, I realize my idea of each original zone being turned into two by adding two new zone valves does sound stupid. So what is going on? Any ideas? I will shoot pictures of the wiring to the zone valves and how it connects to the Orbit and put them here tomorrow.

Thanks
 
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Old 03-30-19, 05:12 AM
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Maybe the controller has a master valve output that is energized/deenergized when any of the 4 zone valves is energized/deenergized. What is the Orbit controller model?
 
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Old 03-30-19, 05:35 AM
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It doesn't make sense that you would have valves feeding other valves, I suggest you do a little more digging around the valves so you can find the water lines otherwise your just guessing what is feeding what!
 
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Old 03-30-19, 05:55 AM
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You are saying I should dig up the lines?
 
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Old 03-30-19, 06:32 AM
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If the valves A & B are in fact feeding the other valves, and if your controller provides a connection for a Master Valve, you could wire them both as masters to open whenever any other zone is activated.

You could also open valves A & B manually (by partially unscrewing the solenoids) and leave them in the open position.
 
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Old 03-30-19, 06:48 AM
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Thanks 2john that makes sense. I will see if I can do that.
 
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Old 03-30-19, 11:34 AM
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Solved. I was able to get 4 zones working. Hunter (A) is zone 4, Rainbird zone 1, & Rainbird zone 3. Then the second photo is zone 2. There is possibly one or two more zones on the second set but my controller only handles 4 total zones. So I will either need to replace the Orbit controller for one with more zones or possibly combine all the zones on the Hunter (B) valve.

Thanks for the help.
 
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Old 03-31-19, 08:24 AM
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possibly combine all the zones on the Hunter (B) valve.
The number of heads on each zone may limit how many zones you can combine. If your combination exceeds the capacity of the piping, the flow and coverage from the heads will be reduced.
 
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Old 03-31-19, 11:47 AM
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Good to know. I dug up both sets of valves and now it all makes sense. There are indeed six separate zones. I think the two zones that do not work were abandoned either because of leaks or bad zone valves.

The second photo shows the supply on left with a shut off just before. The first photo shows the supply entering at the right side of the rightmost valve, barely visible. This one has the two valves that are not connected. The leftmost one with the water on the top of the valve and the center one.

I will try opening these manually to see if their zones are functional. If so, I may just replace the controller with with one for six zones. Although I am not expecting those zones to be functional, thus why they only used a four zone controller.

if I can get these zones to work could I just leave them opened manually all the time? These zones have manual valves on them down line. I could then open the manual valves whenever I want to use them.
 
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Old 03-31-19, 02:05 PM
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could I just leave them opened manually all the time?
Only if you can shut them off from some other point (manual valves).

I could then open the manual valves whenever I want to use them.
Kinda defeats the purpose of an "automatic" sprinkler system and could be a PITA to remember. Also if more than one manual valve is left open that will affect the operation of other zones.

Some modern controllers can be programmed to skip zones on a scheduled basis.
 
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Old 04-01-19, 09:07 AM
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EI have three zones I want to use with the timer as a regular automated system. Then I have three more zones that were set up for shrubs and a such with drip watering. Two of these also have a standard hose bib connected at the ends. I want to use the ones with the hose connections for regular hand watering with a hose. I assume I can just disconnect the power to these valves and plug or shut off the drip connections and then manually turn these solenoid valves on and leave them on. The hose bib connections on the end have manual shut off valves which I would use to turn them off. So, essentially I have a three zone automated system. Then I have two zones taken off the main controller and just used manually with regular hoses connected to them. And, the sixth zone is just not used at all. Makes sense to me.

I understand and I cannot have the controller operating one zone and also use the manual zones with hoses at the same time due to water pressure.
 
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Old 04-01-19, 10:14 AM
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Sounds like that would work as long as there is no master valve. A master valve opens when any zone is activated by the controller so it would not be open when you want to water manually.
 
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Old 04-01-19, 02:12 PM
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No auto mastervalve. Just a manual shut off before the first zone valve. So I should be good to do this.

Is there a way to easily trace where each zone's water lines are? There is one zone remaining that I do not know where all it goes. I only found one dripper and one other outlet. Seems kind of lame for that be the whole zone. It is inside a six inch pipe that comes up from under the driveway. It disappears under the sod. But am not sure without tearing into that pipe to see if it is just the way the get under the drive way or if it goes somewhere else as well other that just these two outlets. Not real excited about tearing up the sod to follow the underground pipe. I went to where the line was pointed but could not find anything. So it must have turned or it doesn’t have any more outlets. Not a major priority to find it, but would like to know. I intend to draw a map of the system so I can refer to it in the future, or when I sell.
 
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