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My in-ground sprinkler system worked well, all zones. Now today, I try one single zone and the heads don't have even close to enough pressure to even pop. They dribble, barely. I'm thinking it could be a solenoid? Is there any easy way to test it? Any advice?

Thanks, Josh

  • Do you have the same problem with all of the zones or only one? – Barry Apr 17 at 22:05
  • Just one. The rest are great. – Spiffy Nigma Apr 17 at 22:45
  • Is it an automatic system? Does it use potable (drinking) water, or is it pressurized irrigation water? – Greg Hill Apr 17 at 22:56
  • It's automatic with city water. Drinkable or not, not sure. – Spiffy Nigma Apr 17 at 23:58
  • Brand new controller and heads too. (year old, I guess.) – Spiffy Nigma Apr 17 at 23:59
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If the sprinkler controller can cause that zone to start dribbling then the solenoid is fine. (Note that "solenoid" is just one part of a complete valve.)

Do an experiment to figure out whether you have a broken pipe or a malfunctioning valve. For example, turn on one working zone, then (at the same time) turn on another working zone. (You may have to operate the valves manually rather than using the timer/controller.) Notice how much the spray of the first zone drops when the second zone comes on. Turn off that second zone, and while the first continues to run, turn on the malfunctioning zone. Does the spray of the first zone drop again? If it does then water in your malfunctioning zone is going somewhere, but not out the heads -- you'll have to locate and repair a broken pipe. But if the spray level of the first zone does not drop, then the valve of the malfunctioning zone is not opening as it should.

If you conclude the valve is malfunctioning there's a chance it could be caused by debris (a grain of sand, a small weed seed, etc) lodged inside. This could happen even on a drinking water system, but it's less likely.

I suggest that you consider how you would go about replacing that valve, have the required supplies on hand, and then try carefully disassembling the existing valve. Start by fully unscrewing the solenoid, and if there's no debris found there, take off the top of the valve. After cleaning it out, reassemble and test.

If things go well the valve could work normally again. If things go badly.. you're already prepared to replace the valve, so go ahead and do that.

  • If you end up replacing the valve, buy two. If one has gone south, chance are that another will get lonely, and wander after him. – Sherwood Botsford Apr 18 at 19:41

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