My lawn sprinkler system was working perfectly last summer. When I went to turn it on this summer, I've noticed that the timer isn't working. Well, it is but it isn't. The timer's display is responsive and I can get it to respond to different settings with the buttons and knob. This issue is that it's not actually turning the water on and off. I'd imagine that it should be controlling an internal component within the valves in the third image. Right now, I have to manually turn the valve shown in the second image to get the sprinklers to operate, I can't just leave it on and let the timer do its job. Its not the end of the world, but if you have a timer why not use it?

Does anyone know what the issue here is? Could it be electrical damage within the valve box? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

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  • 1
    If it's the controller, you might think about siting that indoors. It's gonna take a pounding out in the weather. The plastic is already getting wrecked. May 6, 2020 at 22:06
  • 2
    Are both zones failing? or just one? Manually moving the valve in the valve box doesn't use the solenoid so getting it turned on that way doesn't prove anything. I tend to agree with JACK. Solenoid failures are common. I have a large sprinkler system and I keep spares because I know they fail. Can you use the timer in a manual mode to see if you can get it to operate the valve? That would tell you a lot. May 6, 2020 at 22:10
  • The solenoids don't respond when I change the timer in manual mode. It's also both zones.
    – represton
    May 6, 2020 at 22:20
  • have you tired 'manually' flipping the switches by applying the appropriate electrical current to the valves to see if they are working?
    – Ack
    May 6, 2020 at 23:20
  • do you actually have power to run the valves? .... the LCD may be powered by a battery, but the valves may need 24 Vac
    – jsotola
    May 7, 2020 at 1:37

4 Answers 4


You'd want to check the voltage at the valves to see if the controller is working correctly. If there's voltage, then the valve solenoid is probably bad and needs replacement. It's a common failure.


I would almost certainly go for the fact that its a bad controller. The reason being is that you say that you can manually set it (I am assuming that is a manual set on the controller). That means that the valve solenoid is working properly.

New controllers aren't too difficult to install especially if you have the old one to reference. I'd suggest a good upgrade, perhaps one that has WiFi so you can control it from you phone and only water when there is no rain forecast.


Based on your second picture, your water is off. The handles typically want to be parallel to the pipe.

  • I've been turning it on and off manually with that valve because the timer isn't working.
    – represton
    May 6, 2020 at 22:21
  • I up-voted you to return you to zero, you're trying to be helpful and there is no reason for the website to set up so that you get zingged because -it- won't let you post comments yet (only about 30 rep to go :) )
    – Ack
    May 6, 2020 at 23:21

Three things I advise you to find out:

Are the wires continuous and still attached to controller? (want to keep using them)

Are the solonoids on the valves working? (unlikely both failed)

Is the controller both receiving and delivering 24V AC?

Do you have a meter to check voltage? Check at the controller first (the lower panel comes off) with the controller set "on" appropriately.

If nothing, check power supply to controller (not sure if accessible). If good there, turn off power to controller and check continuity between the wires going to the solonoids. One connection will have all the commons wired to it. check between common and each of the others in turn. If no continuity then the wire is broken.

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