Cleaning debris from the sprinkler:
Sprinkler nozzles have small orifices and may become plugged with debris (only a problem upon initial startup or if the filter insert is left off of the system. The nozzles are easily cleaned by using a fine flexible wire or bristle if needed.
Occasionally debris (grass clippings, grit, small twigs and insects such as earwigs) can prevent the retraction of a sprinkler. Any sprinkler that is stuck in the “up” position may be easily retracted by gently pushing down on the riser. It should pop back down easily. If it resists the retraction, there may be other problems such as excessive sand caught in the wiper seal or sprinkler bucket. Flag the sprinkler and proceed to open it up and flush it out. This can be done either before or after mowing. The zone should then be tested two or three times to ensure that it is operating correctly.
Valves may refuse to completely close should debris become lodged between the rubber diaphragm and plastic housing. Although the valves can tolerate a small amount of debris, it is wise to cease use of the system if the filter is broken or left out of the housing. A stuck valve will allow the particular zone to continue operating - even though the system is shut down. The valve is easily purged by turning the valve handle 1/2 of a turn to attempt a manual flushing. Should this fail, the valve may need to be dismantled - a relatively easy task by a trained service person.
Electric valves are designed for clean water. Occasionally debris may be left in the pipes from the installation or from a break in the pipes if cut by accident. The debris may take a while to reach the valve or sprinkler. A broken pipe may have let debris into the system, or grit may have entered the system when the area hydrants were flushed. Nevertheless, the debris may become lodged between the valve diaphragm and valve seat or between the solenoid pin and its housing. Wells are notorious for grit and sediment contamination in the water. When this debris becomes lodged in the valve it prevents the valve from closing completely resulting in leakage of water through the sprinklers in the affected zone.
Sometimes the valve remains fully open with full sprinkler flow whereas at other times it remains only partially open with a slow leak coming from the sprinklers. A manual repeated opening and closing of the valve can remove the debris. There is also a bleeder valve on most of the electric valves allowing the debris to be pushed out of the valve top and into the valve box or downstream of the valve into the pipe. The TORO EZ flow valve uses this internal bleed mechanism and pushes debris downstream of the valve through the pipe. Should the bleed/flush procedure fail to stop the zone from malfunctioning, the manual gate or ball valve should be shut down and the valve serviced. Only personnel specifically trained on that particular valve model should service the valve. There are many small parts that can be easily lost if installed incorrectly. Consult the parts diagram for the valve, use only the best tools specifically designed for the screws or bolts in the valve.
When servicing a valve, take a cup or bailing device for removing excess water from the valve box, keep a separate container for parts removed from the valve as well as a water squirt bottle and small basin for rinsing valve parts. This avoids the time-consuming process of returning to the garage, truck or shop for supplies.
The controller is a relatively sensitive piece of electronic equipment - similar to a computer or TV. Therefore, should severe electrical storms be present, it is advisable to unplug the unit (remove the backup battery to preserve its useful life). After the storms have passed, you may need to reprogram the day and time. Normally the need to unplug the controller is necessary only when severe storm are close by. Usually we lose about 2 controllers per year due to direct or indirect lightning hits. The cost of replacing the unit averages about $150 - $175. The controller is equipped with a 0.75 amp fuse (Greenkeeper and Vision I) or 1.5 amp fuse (Vision II). This is the controller's first line of defense against power surges and indirect lightning strikes. Keep a spare available - they are easily available from Radio Shack.
The electronic controller is normally quite reliable, however there are several events that may cause it to operate erratically.
1) Change from daylight savings time: Unless the controller time is changed, the clock and start times will be 1 hour off from local time.
2) Unplugged or circuit turned off: Each controller has a back-up battery (either with rechargeable, built-in or replaceable alkaline) to retain clock time during power outages or when unplugged for short times. Occasionally a power circuit is turned off due to local power surges or inadvertent activities. The controller will show a clock time until the back-up battery drains but will not operate the electric valves. Newer digital controllers display a symbol indicating that there is no AC power coming into the controller.
3) Blank display: There is either a blown fuse in the controller due to a power surge or short circuit or the AC power has been turned off and the back-up battery has lost its charge. Replace the fuse and then operate each zone while watching the display. If there is a short circuit in the wires to the valves, the fuse will blow at that time and then a diagnosis may be made as to the problem. Newer controllers have a diagnostic circuit whereby the short circuit will be identified in the display.
4) Flashing display of “12:00”: This means that the back-up battery has lost its charge and the electrical power has been turned off for a period of time and then turned back on. This blinking display is the default display for this purpose. Merely replace the battery and reprogram the time of day. You may need to reprogram the controller.
5) Raindrop with circle and line (TORO Greenkeeper model): Your rain sensor is active and wet or the rain sensor wire is cut. To operate the irrigation system you may do one of three things: a) slide the rain sensor bypass switch to “off”; b) readjust the rain sensor to a level higher than the amount of rain that inactivated the system; c) wait until the rain sensor element dries out – or use a hair dryer to dry it out.
6) Display of a plug with a circle and line through it (Greenkeeper model): The fuse is burned out and needs to be replaced before the back-up battery loses its charge or the controller is unplugged (or the house electrical circuit was tripped off).
7) Flashing “SENS” (TurfPro model): This is the indicator that the rain sensor is wet.
Sprinklers fail to spray as intended:
1)Manual valve: Check the electric and manual control valves to see if they are fully open. Gate and Ball valves may be partially closed and prevent sufficient volume of water from flowing to the system.
2) Flow control: Check the “flow control” on the electric valve. This may have been inadvertently closed part way during a previous manual operation. Merely open the flow control to full port.
3) Stuck valve: There may be a stuck valve allowing more zones to operate than the system was designed to allow – causing all sprinklers to have a reduced radius.
4) Leaks: In the event that there is a cut in the zone pipe or a broken sprinkler, excessive water will flow from that zone. A cut drip line will prevent the zone from functioning properly. Repairs can be easily made but the pipes should be thoroughly flushed to remove debris that may have entered the cut. Turn off the water valve (installed outside the building) and call for a service tech to make the repair. Check for water puddling in or around the affected zone(s) and if possible, flag the area of concern to reduce service time.
5) Nozzle: A particular sprinkler may have a plugged nozzle – insects, grit or earthworms may be the problem. Occasionally a nozzle becomes missing, damaged or plugged with debris. It can be easily reinserted or replaced.
6) Sprinkler adjustment: A sprinkler that has a non-symmetrical radius or spray height has either been installed incorrectly or is plugged with debris. Installing or positioning the sprinkler at a slight angle away from the vertical will cause one half of the arc to be reduced and the other half sprays too high. The sprinkler may also have been affected by lawn maintenance equipment. Merely straighten the sprinkler.
7) Sprinkler Rotation: Occasionally a sprinkler will stop rotating – releasing its water in a very narrow arc. This may be caused by obstruction of the impeller jet by debris that prevents the impeller wheel from turning or from a broken gear drive. Flush the sprinkler by gently pushing the riser down with your foot in a pumping action. After 3-5 pumps, the water that flushes past the rotor will generally remove the debris and the sprinkler will resume rotating. If the sprinkler fails to rotate after repeated pumping, replace the gear drive mechanism.
Main: (802) 872-0065
Toll-free: (800) 845-0065
3619 Roosevelt Hwy. Suite 204
Colchester, VT 05446