I've got a Rainbird Hunter system that came with the house. It is about 7 years old. The unit has power and turns on but fails to turn on the sprinklers. I have cycled through the various zones by pushing the arrow in the pic and it none worked. From my research it could be a pump failure. I assume that could be the culprit but how can I test if this is the point of failure?

Here is my unit. Model number: PC-400i

I also bypassed the rain sensor just in case that was faulty and the system still didn't work and failed to turn on any zones.

I am getting 29v across 24-vac.

EDIT: Secondary question, what is the material used to wrap the pipes where the weed eater exposed the pipes and what should I use to prevent this in the future?

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  • Where does the irrigation water come from? Water supply for house or a dedicated irrigation supply, or irrigation only well? The latter is the only case where "pump failure" that you haven't experienced on the normal plumbing might reasonably apply. If a separate supply, it might be separately shut off. Normally "manual" will turn the system on, but I don't know this particular one.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 2, 2022 at 15:17
  • ahh ok. I may have misread. That makes sense. I do not have a well. I am on city water. Here is where it comes in. I also turned both screws on the relief valve and there is no water coming out. i.imgur.com/lQcvreD.jpg
    – amrog
    Oct 2, 2022 at 15:43
  • Secondary question, what is the material used to wrap the pipes where the weed eater exposed the pipes and what should I use to prevent this in the future?
    – amrog
    Oct 2, 2022 at 15:48
  • Looks like pipe insulation. Which is of limited benefit for outside pipes in a freezing climate, as they will need to be drained for winter anyway. Perhaps you are somewhere that freezing is rare? A metallic or hard plastic overwrap outside the insulation will better protect from weed-eaters. Or a grass-free flowerbed that doesn't need to be weed-whacked ;-)
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 2, 2022 at 15:52

2 Answers 2


First off, this is a Hunter brand controller (not Rainbird).

It appears as though the programming has not been set up. You must set the date/ time and which days to water and a start time and a duration for each station. Also there are 4 different programs (A,B,or C) which are available so you can run different stations at multiple times and for different duration. I have attached the programming instructions. Mine is the same and has these instructions on the inside cover of the unit.

If you put it on Manual the sprinklers should go on unless there is an external problem. It could be that the control wire to the valves has been cut or it could be a supply issue such as a broken irrigation pump or a valve somewhere along the way that is shut.

You can check that the supply is OK by manually turning on each valve at the valve (not the controller). Not sure what valves you have but you can turn either the entire top of the valve (like 1/4 turn) or some have a small nut you turn by hand to open. This should let you know if your source is OK.

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  • Thanks Kyle. This is a weird problem. It was working one day and not the next. Programming has been set up and it worked great up until last week. I opened the relief valves and no water is coming out. This doesn't make any sense because the main valves are open. Here is picture of my setup. i.imgur.com/lQcvreD.jpg
    – amrog
    Oct 2, 2022 at 16:20
  • Also, I have been meaning to upgrade the controller with a new brand that can use forecasting to turn off if it rains or is going to rain. Any recommendations for a new controller?
    – amrog
    Oct 2, 2022 at 16:21
  • Then it appears that there is an issue with your supply rather than your sprinkler system. Maybe there is another valve for this line (or a break in the line) further down towards your water meter ?
    – Kyle
    Oct 2, 2022 at 16:23
  • I prefer the Hunter to the Rainbird controllers. this is just personal preference. Any other brands I am not familiar with. I would stick with with either of those brands rather than a generic (box store) brand myself. Also, either of those can have rain sensors but it is an add-on part.
    – Kyle
    Oct 2, 2022 at 16:27
  • I do not see any leaks. Also, I have not turned off any valves. I am not sure how to troubleshoot further.
    – amrog
    Oct 2, 2022 at 17:27

The valves Kyle referred to are the individual zones valves that are set up in a manifold or are in the ground at various places around your yard. The fact that all zones stopped working at once leads one to believe that the issue must be common to all zones valves. That leaves the ground wire, or the water source. The valve you have shown with the 2 red arrows is a backflow preventer. That may have activated and closed the port not allowing water from the home to pass to the sprinkler system. Why it has done that (if it has) is unknown at this point. I suggest you find a zone valve in the ground, check to verify it has 24V and ground. Then open it manually according to the instructions provided by Kyle. No water? Go to the backflow and find how to release that. Perhaps try turning the house water off and opening a zone valve manually to relieve the pressure. That may open the the port and allow water to flow when the house supply valve is opened again. Hope this corrects your problem.

  • thanks RMD, I think I narrowed it down to the backflow preventer. I dissembled the unit and looked to see if the ball valve opens and closes. I can see the ball valve open for the water line coming in. I can see water pool at the bottom but there is no water flow. It is if water is turned off at the meter. Of course this is not the case, we have water to the house. The Hunter system would not prevent water to the backflow preventer, correct? From my understanding, the water goes from the backflow preventer to the sprinkler system. With all water off, the meter doesn't move so it's not a leak
    – amrog
    Oct 2, 2022 at 20:54
  • i.imgur.com/fvvDv24.jpg
    – amrog
    Oct 2, 2022 at 20:54
  • It looks like you have the top off the backflow valve. The ball valve below the preventer in the pic is on. What position is the other ball valve that was to the left in the pics? If both are on and no water is coming out of the backflow preventer then you have a problem with the ball valve at the house supply to the sprinkler, or it is shut off somewhere before that valve.
    – RMDman
    Oct 2, 2022 at 22:12
  • The other ball valve on the backflow preventer is open also. Right next to the backflow preventer is the main supply for the house. There are no other valves between here and the meter. i.imgur.com/kJ0Vd7L.jpg
    – amrog
    Oct 2, 2022 at 22:28
  • i.imgur.com/lQcvreD.jpg
    – amrog
    Oct 2, 2022 at 22:29

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