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Reticulation Repair: Diagnosing Your Irrigation System

Reticulation Repair: Diagnosing Your Irrigation System
August 7, 2018 Luke Porter


Repairing old (and new!) reticulation systems in Perth can be a frustrating and time consuming task especially if you do not have experience, the right tools and a truck full of parts. When we talk of reticulation repair issues it can be divided up into two categories:

A. Diagnosing why all or part of a sprinkler system is not working. This is more based around solving a particular issue and coming up with a solution to get the reticulation working again. Here are some common issues for your system and also things we may do about them

B. Servicing an existing system that is working but may have issues or may not be efficient so plants or lawn are struggling. I will talk more about servicing and upgrading sprinkler systems in another blog.

For the purpose of this blog we are going to be talking mainly about the Diagnosing of why a system or part of a system is not working as opposed to servicing and upgrading.

Diagnosing Your Irrigation System
Diagnosing Your Irrigation System

Reticulation system not working at all? What steps could we take. Well the very first thing is to think. Has any work been recently done in my garden or in my house (usually electrical if in the house) This line of thinking can often help identify the problem and save time. Common problems caused by others can be and but not limited too

  1. Digging in the garden. Often new recommendations to the house or plumbing and other earth  works where significant digging has been done can cut retic cables and pipe.
  2. Deep edging of garden beds. Often reticulation cables and pipe has not been installed at the correct levels so edging that extra bit deeper than normal can cause damage to systems not set up correctly.
  3. New paving
  4. Soak well installations
  5. Fencing ,very very common. With fencing deep holes need to be dug for the posts and this can often hit the main supply line or wiring.
  6. Electricians that are working on the house can disrupt the power supply and cause a variety of other issues that can stop the reticulation from coming on after they leave
  7. Earthworks with machinery
  8. Stump grinding

It’s worth having a careful think about all and any work completed at your house to assist in the problem solving process. You can let us know when we come to the site so we can be aware of these things as we begin our investigation.

Diagnosing Your Irrigation System
Diagnosing Your Irrigation System
Diagnosing Your Irrigation System
Diagnosing Your Irrigation System

Steps we often take (not always in this order either!)

  • Testing the controller output and ensure output on all ports. It’s important to test the Master or pump port is sending a signal on each station. The Master or Pump Port will send a signal activating the Master Solenoid if your system runs off the mains water supply or will activate your Water Bore Pump via a low voltage relay. Your controller sends a low voltage signal through wiring (usually 5mm for residential reticulation systems.) to your solenoid valves which are normally in the ground in a protective box.
  • We check the water source. Often it’s as simple as the isolation valve system which has been turned off. Sounds simple-(yes we know!) BUT we can’t tell you the number of times its something very simple like this. A quick check can save hours of unsuccessful problem solving.
  • Check the retic controller has power. Often the back up battery can make it appear to have power but a back up battery does not normally have enough power to run the system. An easy way to check this if the controller is hard wired is to remove the battery. Another way is to check the two 24 colt AC ports. If the controller is good we will test it on manual and also on an automatic cycle as sometimes the controller works on Manual but not automatic.
  • We run a test on the wiring using a Multi meter or Tech Tool. This helps us identify if there are any wiring issues or shorts in the system. If a short comes up we will check the coil on that station and the wiring connections. If we get an open circuit it means the wire has been cut or is no longer connected properly and we will get our tracker out and start to trace the break.
  • Check the solenoid valves. Sometimes it can be an internal non-electrical issue in say the Master Valve or in a particular station.
  • Check the meter box and ensure all circuit breakers are on (mainly if you have a bore).
  • Check the bore relay is clicking in.
  • We have a qualified electrician available for any electrical issues and no not all electricians are equal. Its important to get someone who understands bores and how they work and are set up electrically. Inexperienced electricians can wire things in the wrong way or use the wrong size or type of material, and can cost you much more in the long run with mistakes and incorrect problem solving.
  • We have a qualified plumber also available who can install new isolation taps and fix most plumbing issues related to reticulation.
  • We can check the gate valve as sometime the gate drops in older ones stopping the water flow.
  • If everything is working and  the water source is producing and the solenoid valves are opening and closing often this can indicate a break in the main supply line or a fitting that has come loose which we will look for.
  • Another common problem is when a solenoid is sticking all the time. What this means is when another solenoid opens up it has no pressure as the water is escaping from the leaking sticking solenoid valve. (Station 1 stays on all the time even when 2,3 and 4 come on.
  • Sometimes it can be sprinklers broken at the base where the sprinkler connects to the pipe and the water is escaping under the ground and you do not notice it right away.
  • Your disk filter may be blocked.
  • Your pressure relief valve may be activating and releasing all the pressure.
  • There could be a problem with your bore pump that requires our pump specialist to look into it. Sometimes there is water but no pressure behind it indicating a problem which we need to address. A way to figure this out is a pressure test from the pump itself or where the main feed comes out of the ground before the solenoids.
  • Broken wiring.
  • A partial break in the wiring where its sending a signal but the signal is to low to properly activate the solenoid. Where this becomes confusing is sometimes it may work and sometimes it may not if its on the edge.
  • A short in the system can be wiring joints/connectors that are old and corroded or they may be getting water in them (and cause a short when its wet  and stop causing the short when its dry, this can be very confusing and frustrating for the home owner) Often people just tape the wiring connections as they low voltage, the tape can often get water inside causing a short. Using a water proof professional Gel Connector is a better way to go.
  • There are many more steps we take and many more varied and different problems that can arise to stop a system working

If you need help repairing your retic sprinkler system in Perth then reach out to us. We have the parts , the equipment and the various trades needed to undertake the majority of problems with home residential retic systems and we are well established in the industry.

Call us on 0424 133 950 or send us an email at service@lukeslandscaping.com.au

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Founder and Director | Having founded Luke’s Landscaping originally as a sole trader in 2008 with just a ute, a shovel and a whole lot of passion and determination, Luke’s Landscaping Co. is now a well-respected Perth landscaping company. Luke continues to work tirelessly to grow the company and his team to deliver excellence and the best experience for our customers. Luke’s passion lies in his commitment to growing the company, its people and the systems required to deliver the high standards that our customers deserve.