Sprinkler trouble may be timer issue

Sprinkler trouble may be timer issue

Question No. 1

Hi Robert, 

I have asked you a question before and appreciate your help. 

We are in our 80s, and last year, I had to learn how to set the sprinklers for automatic watering. 

Last week our sprinklers started going wild. When it is to water station No. 1, it is watering Nos. 1 and 2, then it waters No. 3 for twice the time set. 

Today, I tried to water manually. I set it to water station No. 1, and it was trying to water all three stations in the backyard at once. 

So I turned them off and set it to water No. 4. It started watering Nos. 1  and 4. 

I set it for No. 7 and it said No. 8. I had to turn it to off for rain to shut it off. 

The sprinkler system is 29 years old. I don’t know what is going on with it. 

Can you give me the name of a reliable person to fix our problem sprinkler system? 

Thank you so much! You are a blessing to people in this valley. 

Barbara S.

Answer No. 1


Thank you for writing in. 

Let’s try this first; Unplug the timer and pull the backup battery out of it. 

With electronics, there are anomalies that we can’t explain, so this may work. 

Wait a full minute then replace the battery and turn the power back on. 

Now try running one station and see if it is operating properly. 

If that works then try running all normally, see what happens. If that doesn’t work, then look at replacing the time clock, as this would be the next step. 

The actuators only respond to input power and cannot turn themselves on without the power from the time clock. 

Based on what you wrote it’s a timer issue. 

If all else fails let me know and I’ll send you a referral, but this is the least expensive way to hopefully find your answer. 

Best of luck.


Question No. 2


I’m on the board of an association that recently had our horizontal sewer lines hydrojetted. 

The plumber was there for two days and the service they said was necessary annually, to keep the pipes clear and flowing. 

This cost the association a ton of money and we were happy to pay it, because they said it is necessary to prevent backups. 

Well they finished on a Friday and over the weekend we had a major backup into a first floor unit. 

How could this be? We called that plumber back because they had just worked on these pipes, and they told us that there was heavy debris in the main line, but that they had done their job. 

I don’t understand how this could be, that they say they cleared all of the lines and then overnight, there is a backup. 

Can you shed light onto this for us? 

We are ready to go to bat over this, as the backup of course was sewage into this unit, and the repairs needed are extensive. 

Thank you for your insight. 

Roger C.

Answer No.2


I’ve seen this probably 20 or more times in my business, over the years. 

This story is one that repeats itself and the simple answer is, abuse of the lines. 

Your plumber undoubtedly, especially if they were there two days, ran that jetter through all of the lines and out to the street. 

You didn’t mention the size of your association but generally two days means a lot of piping. Realize, that a quality jetter produces 4,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) of water pressure. 

This can penetrate concrete, so when used in sewer lines, will break up the toughest of blockages and sludge. 

Here is the scenario that I’ve seen time and time again: Horizontal lines are cleared, then someone decides to dump copious amounts of debris down their garbage disposal such as spaghetti, potato peels, orange peels, onion skins or anything else of the sort. 

The problem, along with these items not being ground to nothing, is that there isn’t enough water run following, to push all of this debris out into the sewage system. 

Now let’s say that this is done in the evening, usually after dinner hours, then the debris sits in the horizontal line and coagulates. 

Now let’s go with the scenario that someone else, possibly higher up in the building, runs food in their disposal or their kid flushes something down the toilet (I’ve seen it a million times). 

This new debris hits last night’s debris, backs up and since water takes the path of least resistance, where does this manifest itself? Usually first floor lavatory – tub, shower, toilet and sink. 

Of course, since you had the plumber out in the last 24 hours prior, you automatically think that they didn’t do their job! 

It makes sense that this is a thought. However, when you understand plumbing and jetting, you also understand that it is highly unlikely that this is the fault of the plumber who did your jetting. 

I do recommend in this situation that you call your plumber back and give them the opportunity to at least be present, if not solve the issue. 

The likelihood that this is the sort of thing that happened at your HOA is higher than not, since a jetter clears debris so well. Your plumber should have taken photos of the open pipes prior to running the jetter, as well as after. 

This shows the power of the jetter and also, the condition of the lines before and after. Ask if they did this, it will show you clearly, that your lines have been cleared. 

Good luck with this situation.


Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].

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