Travis Irrigation Plans and Supply


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Troubleshooting FAQs

We sincerely hope you will find helpful information in these pages. Be sure to check our indexed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and Answers pages first to see if your questions have already been answered. If you can't find the answer you are looking for, submit your question to and we will consider including your question in our FAQs pages. Unfortunately, due to the volume of questions we receive, we can't answer them all personally, but we'll let you know if we decide to include your question and answer on our site.

Seasonal maintenance

  • At least twice a year, in the early spring and mid summer, inspect the operation of every sprinkler to see that it is aimed in the right direction and that the spray pattern is not blocked. If you don't do this you may find that the stubborn spot in your lawn is due to a blocked sprinkler, not poor soil or too much sun!
  • Observe the area around the sprinklers and investigate if you find an area that is constantly wet. To figure out if you have a leak, read your water meter when you go to bed, and again when you get up. This should tell you if you have a significant leak. Look for the little triangle which spins around on the meter to check for very small leaks. Be sure to turn off your ice maker if you have one or you'll see a measurable amount of water being used even without opening a faucet!

System won't water

  • Check to see if the controller has power. If it's a mechanical controller, you may be able to hear the clock motor running, or observe the program dials moving over a period of several hours. You can verify the outlet supplying the controller is on by plugging a light in the outlet. If the controller has power, see if the valves are getting a signal to turn on. This is best done with a volt meter. Cycle the controller through a manual program and observe the valve connections to see if power is being provided to each valve.
  • See if the water supply to the system is on. Find the shut off valve and backflow preventer. Make sure the shut off valve is open (rotate the handle counterclockwise for a gate or globe valve, or turn the handle in line with the pipe for a ball valve. Make sure the isolation valves at either end of the backflow preventer are turned on. If you have a master electric valve, make sure it is getting a signal and that it's flow control is not turned too low.
  • Find the master electric valve if you have one. Most systems don't have one. To see if you do, look for a wire connected to the "pump start" or "master" post beside the valve connections in the controller case. If you have a wire attached to this post and you do not have a pump supplying your system, then you have a master valve. They are usually installed just after the backflow preventer. Manually activate the master valve and see if the system begins to operate properly. If so, you have a bad master valve solenoid or a bad master valve wire.
  • If you have verified the controller is sending a signal and you have the supply valves on, you may have a bad wire. Have you been digging in the yard since the last time the system watered? If one valve is having trouble, the control wire to that valve may be severed. If all valves are not operating, you may have a bad ground wire. Run a piece of wire straight from the controller to the valve to replace the hot wire. If that valve still doesn't work, run the new wire to the problem valve to replace the common wire. If you determine you have a bad wire, replace it. It will be a pain, but unless you can find the break and fix it, the whole wire will need to be replaced.
  • You can trace a wire to locate a broken spot or to locate a valve by using a valve finder. You can rent one at most commercial irrigation houses or at a good tool rental store. A pipe finder can also be used. These tools are something like a metal detector and consist of an antennae you use to follow the wire. Don't resort to this unless all the other options have failed.

Water won't shut off

  • Trapped debris can cause a valve to stay on. This is usually the cause of this problem if recent repairs have been performed, or if the system was just installed. Unscrew the top from the valve and carefully remove the diaphragm and inspect it for debris or damage. Wipe the seal and reinstall it. Be careful not to lose the solenoid plunger or other parts that sometime want to escape.
  • If the bleed hole in the diaphragm (filter in a Rain Bird valve) is plugged, the valve will not close because the debris prevents pressure from building in the upper chamber behind the diaphragm.
  • The controller may be sending an instruction to the valve to turn on. Try resetting the watering time.
  • Try tightening the solenoid (if it's a Rain Bird valve in particular) or the bleed screw.
  • If the system was just turned it on, it's possible the valve hasn't had time to build a seal. Try turning on the water to the main and wait ten or fifteen seconds. If it seals, then all is well.
  • The timer may be set incorrectly, telling the valve to turn on at an unexpected time, or the controller may be defective (a power surge can cause this) and is telling the station to water.
  • The solenoid may be dirty, remove and clean it, then reinstall the soleniod.

A new "spring" or wet spot has formed in your yard

  • If the spot is near a sprinkler that is one of the lowest sprinklers in the station, you may have a leaky valve.
  • You may have a broken pipe or fitting. They are both pretty easy to fix. Dig up enough of the pipe around the break to give you room to work, and to bend the pipe enough to insert a new piece attached to couplings.
  • The diaphragm may be dirty. Open the valve and clean the diaphragm.
  • The seal at the bottom of the solenoid may be damaged or installed improperly. Inspect the seal at the bottom of the solenoid (o-ring on a Rain Bird valve) and re-install the solenoid.
  • The diaphragm may be damaged or has a hole in it
  • The solenoid may be dirty, remove and clean it, then reinstall the soleniod.
  • If water is leaking from the valve bonnet, tighten the screws around the edge of the bonnet (valve top).

Brown spot in yard

  • You may have a plugged sprinkler nozzle. Turn on the station and see if the water sprays out of the nozzle normally. If the radius is too small, try opening up the screw in the top of the nozzle to increase the flow or break up any trapped debris. You may need to trade out a nozzle with one of a larger arc or radius to get better coverage.
  • If the whole station is affected, the station control wire may be broken or disconnected in the controller box.

Controller won't operate

  • Make sure the controller has power and is grounded properly. If the power is OK, it's possible the controller has experienced a power surge. Try resetting the controller by turning off the power (unplugging it) AND removing the backup battery! We've seen controllers that have to be powered down for a half hour before they operate normally. If this happens, it is usually a very infrequent situation.

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