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Thread: Anyone familiar with Weathermatic valves?

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  1. #1

    Default Anyone familiar with Weathermatic valves?

    I had an 11-zone system installed in Oct of '03 and have had continuous issues with the Weathermatic valves. I've had no less than 20 solenoids replaced on the valves, all at the irrigation company's expense. At the end of last season, I forced them to replace every valve in the system with new ones. They only replaced the solenoids and agreed to extend my warranty on the system itself. Here it is in July and they are starting to fail again. I'm quite tired of coming home to find another Error on the controller (the controller is a Hunter Pro-C).

    The owner of the irrigation company is baffled by my problems and did tell me that there we some issues with Weathermatic valves, but I have been unable to locate anything documented. Does anyone know of any design issues with them?

    Al
    Last edited by amartin725; 07-24-2005 at 12:16 PM.

  2. #2

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    You probably won't find any documentation on defective products fom the distributers. It's usually kept internal. I dealt with Weathermatic many years ago and found them to be of poor quality and will not buy any of thier products. The controller you have is excellent.
    The number of solenoids you have going bad makes me wonder if there is an issue with the wiring of the system. Heres a way to check an individual solenoid to see if its bad. Hopefully the valves are accessible to you.
    If you get a reading of a bad zone or solenoid, go to your manifold or valve box and disconnect the 2 wires that are leading into it from the controller. Now you should have the solenoid, attached to the valve with 2 wires coming out from it. With a voltmeter set at ohms at the lowest setting touch one lead to each end of the solenoid wire, you should get a reading from 20-50. If your in that range, the solenoid is fine, below or above it means a bad solenoid.
    Good luck.

    I understand the system is under warranty but you will know if the contractor is spinning his wheels repairing the wrong items.

  3. #3
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Irrigation equipment can be regional. I have not heard of Weathermatic. Here in So. Cal. the big dogs are Toro, RainBird, and Hunter commercially, with Toro, Rainbird, and Orbit in the residential as well as all the Toro sub brands Rainjet, Lawn Genie, etc. K-Rain seems to be an east coast favorite but is sold here in the box stores.

    In any event, repeated solenoid failure seems unusual. Diaphragm failure in less expensive brands in much more common, but even then not at the rate you are experiencing. Have you contacted Weathermatic to see what they say?

  4. #4

    Default

    Near the end of last season I was actually beginning to take daily current readings of each zone after they all kept dropping out. I got too frustrated because it was still under warranty and I figured that since I paid for a service, I expected results (silly me). The ‘Owner’ came out and replaced all the solenoids and mentioned a possible ‘batch issue’ with the Weathermatics. I kept my fingers crossed but know that the problem will keep reoccurring.

    This solenoid reads 10Ω, so there is something wrong with it. I’ve done my fair share failure analysis, so instead of making another frustrating phone call, I’ll dissect it on my own to see if I can find anything. I picked up a couple of new ones for cheap so I have spares.

    I have not contacted Weathermatic, but will if I can find something relevant. I did contact an engineer at Hunter regarding an issue with the Pro-C controller. The ‘delay-between-zones’ feature would not work in automatic mode. It would work in manual, but not automatic. The flunky sent out by the irrigation company to check on it when I reported the issue could not understand the problem, even after witnessing it multiple times. I explained it very simply, I need this feature to allow my well to catch up between zones. He called the Owner and both decided I was being too unreasonable and would do nothing about it. Hunter sent me out a new controller directly, no questions asked.

    Al

  5. #5

    Default

    Did you check the output voltage of the transformer?

    Paul

  6. #6

    Default

    Last year when I was watching the currents, I was keeping track of the power supply as well. I did not see anything out of the ordinary but didn't go so far as to pull my o-scope out to watch it. The multi-meter averages everything, so voltage spikes are difficult to catch.

    Had another soleniod die this morning. That's two zones down within a week...again. This is just bull and I'm tired of it. What brand of valves do you guys recommend? I'm tempted to replace them all myself and back-bill the irrigation company...like that will get me anywhere

    Al

  7. #7

    Default Weathermatic valves

    Although the voltage drop may not be the only problem with the Weathermatic valves, I certainly agree with the concept of the gauge wire being too small for the length used. I would only add that the gauge must be decreased (larger wire) as the length is increased between the controller and the valve solenoid. The key is to measure the voltage across the solenoid, as close to the solenoid as possible, while energized. Then measure the voltage at the output of the controller while energizing that same solenoid. The difference between the voltage at the controller and the voltage at the solenoid is the "voltage drop" or loss due to the length and gauge of wire. A 5% voltage drop MAY be tolerable (check with valve mfgr), but the less drop, the more powerful the solenoid action will be. To be told to use any particular gauge wire with no consideration of length is ridiculous, but is a common mistake made by many installers, system designers and, sorry to say, even some EE's. EXAMPLE: 18 gauge copper wire, at 20 degrees C, has a resistance of 6.385 ohms per 1000 feet. That means that in a distance of 500 feet (2 wires = 1000 ft) from controller to valve, using a 20 ohm solenoid that your voltage drop will be, simplistically, [(6.385 ohns/20ohms)(24 volts)] = 7.662 volts, or about 32% (7.662volts/24volts)..... way toooo much! I realize that a 500 foot run is likely not too common, but just use the same math for any distance you may have using 18 gauge wire. If that 32% is not reduced to less than the mfgr's specification for adequate operating voltage AT THE SOLENOID (not at the controller), then you will have to increase the size (decrease the gauge) of the wire or some how increase the voltage at the controller for only the high resistance (long) wire runs. 16 gauge copper wire is 4.016 ohms/ft and 20 gauge is 10.15 ohms/ft, both at 20 degrees C. Hope this helps

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member TGreenway's Avatar
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    Just an update....been running with the "Hunter" valves for two months and not a single failure....I'm not sure what the problem was, but replacing the Weathermatic with Hunter seems to have fixed it.

  9. #9
    Sprinkler Guy Wet_Boots's Avatar
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    The Weathermatic company went through some struggles after their founder died, so figure their solenoid woes as one indication of this. Supposedly, the solenoid failures were connected with accumulated hours of valve operation, which made for some confusion, as valves in areas with wet weather, and reduced hours of operation, weren't seeing the failures that other parts of the country were.

    Their valves were always considered to be among the best, before this problem cropped up. Too bad, since they'll be awhile living this one down.

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member Mr_Pike's Avatar
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    I must have gotten into the WM valves after the problems in 03. Only solenoid failures have been on the 'Silver Bullet' economy type valves.

    Please don't take this as gospel as far as WM valves being the best out there, they all have problems.

    I would never ever install a Toro valve after their debacle with the flowmatics. Ask any independent irrigation guy which valve he hates the most!

    The old irritrol valves are the ones that fail in the open position, which is darn unhandy if you ask me.

    I have had WM solenoids fail at my own home. Do I still put them in the ground with my name on them standing on a 5 year warranty? Yes.

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member peejmeister's Avatar
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    Default WM Solenoid Replacement Update

    Sorry to post on so late after my initial post last year.

    I had an irrigation guy out last fall to replace all of my solenoids (32) at WM's expense. When he came out and saw how my system was wired, he told me that was why I was having so many problems and that he'd seen it before.

    His explanation was that the wire to the solenoid (not the common, but the other) should have been 'terminated' at the valve and not connected to the ongoing lead down the line, as the common wire must be. So he clipped the one side after the solenoid on all the valves.

    This seemed to have made a signficant difference. The rest of last fall was dry and I ran the system regularly without problems....

    However, this spring and early summer have been excessively wet and hence I haven't had to run the system up until now. After the first week or so of use this summer, I have had two solenoids go bad on me, one that stuck with the valve shut, the other with the valve stuck open.

    It's too early to tell, still, but this does not make me as comfortable as I was at the end of last season. The guy who replaced my solenoids said to call him back if I had any further problems and left me with several extra solenoids. I replaced them but have not had any success keeping the one solenoid threaded in place, so I think I'll have to have him come back out.

    The saga continues....

  12. #12

    Smile Weathermatic M24E Solenoids

    Weathermatic experienced a problem with the M24E solenoid relating to water penetration. They have replaced the M24E with the S20P solenoid. All of the reports I have heard on this solenoid are excellent. I recommend that you contact the company's tech service department if you are still having problems. Have you tried the Weathermatic SmartLine controller? This is a really cool product. It adjusts watering times based on the weather. They have a site about the product called www.smartline.com. A lot of water providers are giving rebates for installing a product of this type. Many of these rebates are listed on the Smartline site.

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member
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    Default first M24 failure

    Well, after discovering this thread, I'm not going to let it die either! I have a small Weathermatic system, in place for 12 years now, and I just had my first M24 failure; it is dated 1996 and the side case is finally cracking from heat cycles. I have not had a valve failure yet. I have a WM controller, and although I kinda hate it, I have learned to use it. The LCD did go bad after the warranty period, and when I contacted WM, they sent out a whole new controller, they were very very good; this was about 2000. my 2 cents on WM. Kudos to aamartin for not going postal at some point and figuring out a voltage patch.

  14. #14
    DIY Junior Member TGreenway's Avatar
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    Last post was May, 2007...it's now Sept 2008, and I haven't had a single failure since my installer replaced the WM valves with Hunter valves....I guess if the valves continue to work as long as this thread, then I'll be happy.

  15. #15

    Default Now it's 2009

    Thanks all for the information here; our builder put in Silver Bullets in the summer of 2004, and since then we have replaced a lot of solenoids. I just put in the first S20P, let's hope that is the real "silver bullet"

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