How to Find Lawn Sprinkler Irrigation Valves
In a lawn irrigation system, repair or replacement of an irrigation valve is a very common repair. An irrigation system is typically divided into several zones, each of which feeds sprinkler heads in a different area of the lawn or garden, and each zone is controlled by a valve that receives signals from a centrally located controller. The constant on-off cycles of the valves creates wear and tear, and sooner or later you will be faced with the job of working on one or more of the valves.
Surprisingly often, though, it can be difficult to locate the sprinkler valves. The task is complicated by the fact that the valve locations can vary greatly depending on the size of the yard and the design of the system. In many areas, the source water for irrigation systems may not come from the house: Some local jurisdictions require there to be a reduced pressure zone assembly (or RPZ valve) on the source water, in which case the valves will be outside.
- Sometimes (and rarely), the valves are located above ground, usually near where the source pipe emerges from the house to split into various irrigation zones. In this case, it's usually quite easy to find the valves.
- Often the valves are located inside one or more in-ground valve boxes. The tops of these boxes will be at ground level, and these, too, are usually fairly easy to spot and access.
- The valve box, or sometimes the valves themselves, are sometimes buried underground. This is where it can get challenging. There are many instances where homeowners have dug up large areas of the yard in an effort to find buried valves.
Finding Above-Ground Irrigation Valves
Above-ground irrigation valves are usually installed near the water source, so start by looking around the perimeter of the house or garage. Look behind bushes, since shrubbery that spreads as it matures can often hide the sprinkler valves. Often, the zone valves will be located in close proximity to the vacuum breaker, a required feature in most irrigation systems.
Tips for Finding Buried Irrigation Valves
In newer lawn irrigation systems, the valves should be installed in valve boxes set into the earth. Often these are easily visible. In small yards, there is often a single valve box located near where the irrigation pipes enter the ground from the water source. Larger yards may have remote valve boxes set at the start of each irrigation zone. Here are some tips for location below-ground valves, beginning with the easiest.
- Begin by looking for exposed valve boxes. In many instances, the valves will be conveniently located in green or black plastic boxes set into the ground, with covers that can be removed to expose the valves. These boxes have covers that can be removed to access the valves. Over time, however, these boxes can get covered with grass and dirt. After a few years, they can virtually disappear.
- Check your sprinkler system documentation. Many sprinkler system installers provide a system diagram that outlines the location of sprinkler heads and valve.
- If the irrigation system required a permit for installation, your local permits department may still have an irrigation blueprint on file, which will indicate the location of the valves.
- It may be possible to follow the sound of the water leading to the missing valve. Have someone turn on just that zone at the main controller and listen for water going to the valve. Also, listen for clicking when the valve is activating or hissing from the water pressure in the valve. This is best done when there is little surrounding noise interference.
- The order in which the sprinklers in that zone start up can be another clue. Have a helper manually turn on that zone at the controller and observe. The sprinkler head that is closest to the valve should pressurize slightly before the rest of the sprinklers. Start at that sprinkler and try to find the valve nearby.
- The cheapest and easiest way to find buried irrigation valves is often to probe the soil with a thin rod, such as a long screwdriver. Often you can estimate the rough location of the irrigation valve, then find a buried valve box by probing the ground. But this is not a good method unless you are sure the valves are protected by a valve box, since probing can damage the solenoid, valve wires, or the irrigation pipes. To estimate the location of a valve, note the point where the controller wire enters the ground from the main controller, and project the path of the wire. Very often, the valve location is near the corners of the house or just slightly past the backflow preventer. Probe the ground to a depth of about 6 to 12 inches and listen/feel for the presence of the hollow valve box. When you think you have found the box, dig down carefully with a hand trowel to avoid damaging the irrigation pipes or controller wires.
- With automatic sprinkler systems, you may be able to trace the controller wires all the way from the main controller to the valve locations. Dig holes every 10 feet or so to observe the direction of the wires until you locate the valve, but be careful not to damage the wires as you dig—a hand trowel is the best tool to use.
- A simple tool known as a chatter locator energizes the valve solenoid, making it possible to locate the valve by listening for the clicking sound it makes.
- Another rental tool, known as a valve locator, can find a valve by tracing the controller wires using a transmitter, receiver, lead wires, and a grounding stake. It operates much like a metal detector.
Map Your Irrigation System for the Future
Once you have located the irrigation valves, consider drawing up a diagram of the sprinkler system to avoid this problem in the future. It may be a while before you need to repair or replace a sprinkler valve again, and you may not recall the exact location by then.
Irrigation valve boxes are life savers, protecting the valves, fittings, manifolds, and wirings down there from obvious damages.
But sometimes, the valve box gets located below the ground level. It also takes place while you’re leveling the lawn depressions up, or just restructuring it anyway. Unless the box is re-surfaced to the ground level, there would be numerous troubles. And I think that’s what you’re being bothered about as well.
So, how to raise the sprinkler valve box?
Simply put- you need to find the right size of the valve box or valve box extension and trim it height-wise if needed. Then, you’ll dig around the old box and put the new box on top of it provided that it’d been well-supported down there. Done so, you’ll get the required raise of the height.
Sounds easy, right? But my friend, it involves several sets of actions and borderline measurements that might not be that easy at all.
Hence, we’ve crafted a 360-degree guide around the subject and broken down the tasks into bite-size chunks.
Put your DIY hat on, and let’s dive in-
What’s Wrong With A Too Deep Valve Box?
Alright, we know that you already had faced some sort of trouble, and landed on this page seeking a solution. But just for the record, here goes a complete list of troubles a valve box can invite once it’s too deep compared to the ground-
- Rain or irrigation water often gets into it, as it’s a lower surface than the ground.
- Day or night, you might fall into the ‘hole’ and at the worst case, get a twisted/broken ankle.
- It may let the mulch and dust to fill in the hole. When you’ll get to troubleshoot the irrigation valves, you won’t be able to relocate its position easily.
Best Solution: Use A Valve Box Extension to Level It with The Ground
This method happens to be the most recommended and hassle-free way to level up a valve box. Because, otherwise you either have to dig out around the box all the way, or replace it with a new taller box that’d cost you a good sum.
Either of them isn’t quite easy nuts to crack, right?
Hence, all you need to do is find an extension(valve box without lid) of the right size and height and put it on your existing box. This way, it will re-create an elevated top surface and solve your problem for good.
But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Most of the people who’ve tried this have gone nuts to find the ‘edge-to-edge’ match between the sizes of existing and the new box.
Let us break it even further. By a size matchmaking, we mean-
- To get the right SIZE of the new box that matches the older one.
- To get the desired height.
Enough of the problems. How do I get them done?- You might ask.
Well, we’ve got a quick trick to deal with the second one(height match).
But for the first one(surface match), it’s better if we break the trick up.
Rules of Thumb to Find The RIGHT Valve Box Size
Rule 1 of 2: Look for The Right Bottom
We’re gonna put the valve box on top of the older one, right?
If so, the new box should have a bottom opening that is either the same or a bit larger than the top(lid) opening of your existing box. So, among all of the specs of a box, look for the correct ‘Bottom dimension’ in the first place.
The commercial practice is to size valve boxes by usually the lid opening size. And that often comes out inaccurate. We’ve seen tons of customers complaining about displaying the wrong sizes of these boxes on the picture.
Long story short- don’t get misled by what they advertise until you’re 100% certain of what the actual bottom opening size is.
Rule 1 of 2: Look for The Right Inside Dimension
Usually, the inside dimension of a valve box bottom is about 0.5”-2” less than the outside dimension due to the oversized bottom flange. The flange has its perks, but in this particular case, this might mislead you anyway.
Since you’re going to put it on the top of the older box, we need to get the inner dimension correct instead of the outsider one. This is important because most of the boxes available online mostly provide the outside dimension. Beware of getting misled on that.
Got the two rules noted in your mind? Let’s go through a full list of various sizes of valve box extensions that are good values for the money-
Our Recommended Valve Boxes & Extensions(Rectangular)
|Bottom Dimension(inside)||12” x 17-1/2”|
|Product Name||NDC D1000-SGL Valve Box(with lid)|
|Generic(commercial) Size: ||10" x 15"|
|Bottom Dimension(outside)||13-1/4” x 19”|
|Lid Opening:||9-1/2” x 15”|
|Bottom Dimension(inside)||14.6” x 19.8”|
|Product Name||Rain Bird VBREC12 (with lid)|
|Bottom Dimension(outside)||14.6” x 19.8”|
Similar bottom size alternatives-
Similar bottom size alternatives-
Our Recommended Valve Boxes & Extensions(Round)
Similar bottom diameter alternatives-
Similar bottom diameter alternatives-
Similar bottom diameter alternatives-
Tip 1: In case You Don’t Find The Right Size
Given all of the variations of sizes, you still might not find the right match between the top of the old box and the bottom of the new box.
If the new one has a larger bottom than it’s needed, then keep pushing it down until the bottom rim of it sits on the top of the older box tightly.
But don’t go with a new box that has a smaller bottom than the top of the old one. This will make no sense, as they’re supposed to create a seal joined together.
Tip 2: Deciding Between Real Valve Box and Its Extension
Often, you’ll get the same version of a valve box missing the lid, and commercially labeled as the ‘extension’. Sometimes, extensions are even custom-made as well.
So, which one should you go for while thinking about raising your box?
As you have already a box in the job, you might think that- just an extension would be fine.
The thing is- extensions are fine, as long as you don’t need to work on the irrigation throughout them. But in most of the cases, that’s not likely.
Hence, to keep the freedom of working on the valves, or the irrigations, we’d suggest going with the entire box instead of the extension. The lid of the older box might need to be thrown away, as the new box will have a new one, but that’s nothing important.
If you are strongly sure that you won’t make any change to the irrigation system, then the extension without a lid will be fine.
5 Quick Steps To Raise The Sprinkler Valve Box with A New One
Let us say that, by far, you’ve found one right sprinkler valve box to put on top of the old one. Followings are the steps of doing it right so that there isn’t any leaks or scopes of damage once you’re done-
Step 1: Determine The Size-Match
First thing first, we’ve to decide how much the new box will sit on top of the old one. This is done to make sure that the joint between these two is a 90-99% sealed(water-proof, dust-proof one).
If you’ve found a new box that has the exact sized bottom opening to the lid of the older one, that’s a jackpot. If not, you’ve to insert the bottom of the new one on the top of the new one, and keep pushing it until it’s a tight fit.
Hence, take measures of these-
- How much height you want to gain
- How much deep the new box has to go.
Once you got the measures, here is the formula-
Height of The New Box= Elevation Height of Old Box + Length that The New Box will Sit for on The Old One
If required, make some trimming to the bottom of the new box. The only tool needed to do so is a pair of secateurs.
Here are some of our recommended secateurs of different budgets-
Step 2: Dig Around The Existing Box
To house the new box on the old one, you have to dig down around the perimeter of the old one. A piece of safe advice is to dig down more than how much it’s required. Make sure that the digging isn’t wider than 1-2 inches. Filling it up would be tough otherwise.
Step 3: Remove The Lid
Many don’t prefer to remove the lid of the older one. But as we’re having a new one, and you’d need to access the valves inside, that’s not quite an option.
If it’s a valve box extension you’re going to put on top of it, then the lid has to sit on the new one anyway. Make sure that it matches perfectly in that case. Any kind of seals or overfit/underfit isn’t expected at all.
Step 4: Place The New Box Over The Old One
Alright, we’re set to put the newly bought box on the old one now. If it’s a new valve box that you’ve gone with, it would have flanges around the bottom opening. And it brings on some special considerations.
While putting it on top of the old box, the flange has to be supported enough. If not, it will easily get tapped down by lawn mower or even footsteps. Therefore, you’ll see the surface of the box gone down and a hole is being created once again.
So, how’ll you support the flange around the old box body?
It’s done well by some solid filler material beneath the flange of the box. This support will neutralize any pressure or force on the top surface, and keep the surface as aligned as before.
About the filler materials, you can try any of these-
- Bricks or scrap pressure treated wood.
- Stones or pieces of concrete.
The filler material is best served while distributed all around the perimeter of the box. In case you’re running short of filler materials, you can fill up three/four slots with equal intervals.
Step 5: Backfill The Remaining Gap
So far, you should see the new box to sit on the older one perfectly, and raise up the lid surface to the desired height.
Now backfill the space around the edges with soil. And we’re done! There might be excess soil remaining. Dispose of them with a wheelbarrow or alternatives.
Although we’ve tried to enlist a few good quality valve boxes and extensions for you, we still believe that there will be unwanted issues while you’ll be finding the right one.
Unfortunately, brands and sellers on e-commerce stores usually can’t provide specific whereabouts when you’d ask. We’ve seen many stumble on this same issue several times.
To make finding the right box easier for you, here are a few of the latest valve box catalogs (PDF) from NDS, Dura, and Rainbird-
Appendix 1: NDS Valve Boxes Catalogue: 2019 Update (Courtesy: ndspro.com)
Appendix 2: Dura Valve Boxes Catalogue (Courtesy: toro.com.au)
Appendix 3: Rainbird VB Series Catalogue, Rainbird Professional Series Catalogue(Courtesy: rainbird.com)
Cody is a fulltime blogger and gardener. His favorite activity to relax after a long day of writing is taking care of his plants and garden. For the past few years he have spent more time in the garden than inside so if there is one man you should take advice from its our dear Cody.
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Single Valves and Manifolds
Inline valves are an important part of any irrigation system. They’re the link between the controller and the sprinklers, and they control when water flows into a zone. They can be arranged either singly throughout the system, or located together.
Single inline valves are separately placed to control the flow of water through lateral pipes for a specific zone.Each valve is connected to the main line, with the lateral pipes located downstream from it. The buried valve should be covered with a valve box to protect it from dirt, the elements, vandalism, and damage due to mowers and other equipment.
The single valves, along with the lateral pipes, can be laid out in different configurations for optimum sprinkler performance. For example, the straight line lateral circuit, with the valve located at the very end of the line, is the least optimum layout. Much better is a split-length lateral circuit route with the valve located in the center of the sprinkler line. This arrangement reduces the required pipe size, and balances pressure losses throughout the circuit.
A second method of setting up inline valves is to group them together in a manifold. An irrigation manifold is a pipe that branches into a number of openings, and each opening is used to attach a single valve that controls one zone.
The downside of manifolds is that if one of the valves starts to leak at the inlet, you have to replace not just the faulty valve but all of the valves, even the ones that are operating properly.
You can purchase pre-made manifolds in many different sizes (e.g. 2-6 valves), depending on how many valves and zones are needed. Homeowners can also design and assemble their own manifolds, basically using pvc (polyvinyl chloride) pipe, tees, and elbows. Sometimes a number of manifolds are joined together with pvc pipe to keep them all in one location.
It’s recommended that you place valve manifold assemblies near the zones they’re serving (e.g. front and backyard), and in an accessible spot for maintenance. Grouped valves should also be protected by a valve box, and not buried directly in the ground. Don’t locate them near stairwells, utilities, window wells, or in areas that slope downward to the house. You also don’t want them in the middle of play areas or where they interfere with walking.
How Valves Work
The kind of valves usually found in automatic irrigation systems are called solenoid valves. They consist of the solenoid (black cylinder with wires), which is wired directly to the controller, and the valve itself. When the controller sends a signal to the solenoid, it either opens or closes the valve. Arrows on both sides of the valve show the correct flow direction when hooked up to the water supply.
For single valves, the inlet side connects to the main line. The inlet is under constant pressure, and only lets water pass through when opened by the controller. The outlet side of the valve connects to the lateral lines that carry water to the sprinklers. Lateral lines are only under pressure when the water is passing through an open valve.
With grouped valves, one side of the manifold is connected to the main line, and the other side can be connected to piping that continues to other manifolds, be capped off, or be used to install an automatic drain.The inlet side of each valve connects to the manifold, and is under continual pressure from the main line so that water can flow when the valve is opened. The outlet valve side connects to lateral pipes running to a specific zone.
Advantages of Single Valves
- Smaller valve boxes are less obtrusive in the landscape.
- Less lateral pipe is needed, which reduces pressure loss due to friction and allows optimum hydraulic locations in system.
- Easy to repair or replace the valve in the working space.
Disadvantages of Single Valves
- Usually longer runs of wire to reach all the valves.
- Smaller valve boxes can get hidden under turf and can be difficult to locate for maintenance or repair.
- Longer runs of main line pipe, which is more expensive.
- Wires can be difficult to find to repair unless you know where the pipes run (wires are usually buried in the pipe trench).
Advantages of Manifolds
- Shorter runs of wire from controller to manifold locations.
- Larger valve boxes can be easier to locate, and some homeowners place them outside the landscaped area.
- Usually shorter runs of more expensive main line pipe.
Disadvantages of Manifolds
- Longer runs of lateral pipes.
- Manifolds can be very difficult to work with and some irrigators don’t recommend manifold valves for the following reasons:
- If one of the valves starts leaking on the inlet or outlet side you have to cut out non-leaking valves to get to the one that needs repair or replacement because of the reduced working space.
- Often the entire manifold has to be replaced due to a simple pvc leak when the valves are piped too close together. What would have been a simple job is going to cost much more.
- Some manifolds are built too close to the tee in the main line so there isn’t much pipe to work with when doing repairs.
- Even if manifolds are built with enough room to work on the valves or pipes, it’s still a more difficult task due to the tight configuration.
Call the experts at South Austin Irrigation at (512) 534-7449 or fill out our Service Request form for professional maintenance and repair to your sprinkler system.
Filed Under: Irrigation Repair BlogSours: https://southaustinirrigation.com/single-valves-and-manifolds/
About Sprinkler Manifolds
You can improve the efficiency of your irrigation system with the use of sprinkler manifolds, and you will get your lawn and garden looking great. Your system includes various components, including sprinklers, sprinkler pipe, sprinkler fittings, and more. A manifold will make it easy to connect everything.
One of the most essential parts of some plumbing and irrigation systems is the manifold. The manifold is a system of valves, tees, elbows, and couplings that all work together to distribute the water throughout the entire system. A sprinkler valve manifold can be custom designed for a specific system with parts by Orbit, Dura, and Action or they can be purchased as stock manifold depending on your system needs. Here is a basic rundown of all the parts needed to make your sprinkler manifold work properly:
Sprinkler System Manifold Components
- Tees - Sprinkler manifold tees connect all of the valves. A tee is shaped just like it sounds that allows you to connect a line off-shooting from the main one. Each end of the pipe is threaded to connect directly into the main water line. Each one of the ports on the tee is also threaded to run to the designated valve that connects to the water line.
- Valves - The valve connects to one of the ports located on the manifold tee. On the other end of the valve, the pipe is connected to it. A valve is attached to each port on the tee, and each valve runs to a separate pipeline that is distributed throughout the designated area to be watered. The valve has a series of wires on it. A wire is run from the valve to the sprinkler timer. The timer communicates, indicating to the valves when to turn on, how long to run for and when to turn off. A sprinkler manifold consists of two or more valves, and each valve controls one station within the sprinkler system.
- Adapters, Swivels, and Caps - When it comes to a sprinkler system manifold, no arrangement would be complete without adapters, swivels, and caps. Adapters are used when a fitting needs to be changed to fit into or with a certain valve, or pipe. The adapter is attached to the pipe or valve on one end, and then the other end will be connected to the object that needs to have its connection changed. Manifold caps are used when the installation of the last manifold of the system has been completed, and the water main does not need to run out the other end of the manifold. These caps are threaded for easy installation and are designed to withstand high pressures of water without.
Buy Irrigation Manifolds Online
For all your sprinkler manifold system needs be sure to check out the inventory at PlumbersStock.com. Manifolds, as well as all their parts, are available in wide varieties. You can select a pre-designed ready to install sprinkler system manifold or design your own to fit your needs. For more information on sprinkler manifolds, contact our professionals.
Box manifold 6 sprinkler valve
Combining the quality HRM Series Manifold System with the reliable Rain Bird DV Series Valves, these manifold kits take the hassle out of specifying, configuring and installing quality valve systems.
We use only high quality parts and, with our large number of available configurations, we are sure there is a valve manifold available for virtually any application.
Example of a parts list for a sprinkler valve manifold kit.
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