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Thread: Anyone familiar with Weathermatic valves?

  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

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    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

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    Did you check the output voltage of the transformer?

    Paul

  6. #6

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    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

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    Understand you are getting an rms reading. I was thinking along the line of running 12v solenoids on a 24v transformer.

    Have you contacted Weathermatic's customer support?


    Paul
    Last edited by PEW; 07-22-2005 at 05:54 AM.

  8. #8

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    I was taking resistance readings of all of the solenoids today and found 2 more that were low. I ran those zones and they died within minutes. That makes 4 in less than a week. I've called the irrigation company (again) and also contacted Weathermatic.

  9. #9

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    The irrigation company came out to look at the system (I was not home). They found and replaced 4 bad solenoids and explained that they had no idea why we keep having problems and we would not be billed for the service call. The technician said that he was going to discuss the situation with the owner.

    3 days later I get a bill and no phone call from anyone. Needless to say another call was made with more harsh words spoken. The bill was wiped out, but no one has a clue what to do for me. In the meantime, I have another zone that I feel is about to go down.

    Yesterday, someone from Weathermatic responded to my inquiry. After several emails, this was the information passed on to me:

    We had a problem in 2003 with some solenoids with faulty encapsulation allowing them to short out. The local distributor is aware of the problem and we have a replacement program to replace those solenoids with the new "monster style" M24E. It is called monster because the wires are larger in diameter than the prior solenoids. I am surprised your service company is not aware of the program to replace the solenoids. We will supply the solenoids to replace all of your solenoids with the monsters.

    I suggest you go to www.weathermatic.com and click on Find a Distributor to locate the authorized distributor near you. Call them and advise them of the problem ask them to arrange for monster solenoids to go to your service company. If you want a recommendation for another service company, the distributor can provide that for you.

    We apologize for the problem with the solenoids. Most have been found and replaced by now.
    In Sept ’04, all of my solenoids were replaced with ‘Monster’ style ones, which I explained back to them. This was the response:

    If you check the date codes on those solenoids, likely you will find that they are from March, April, May of 2004. There were a few failures from that period but after additional QC checks were put in place in the summer of 04, total returns have been less than 10 pieces for all reasons. We are thoroughly confident in the new Monster M24E. We know what the problem was and it has been solved. Make sure that your distributor gets you monsters that are dated 9/04 or later. We only had a total of 300 known failures in the first 8 months the monsters were in the field with more than 500,000 installed. Since the end of the summer of 04, with more QC tests in place, we saw the drop to less than 10 pieces since then with another 750,000 in the field. We would certainly like to see the ones that have failed. Ask the local WM distributor to return those to use for examination. They should also furnish you with warranty replacements
    The one that is questionable has a date code of 8/04, 5 have date codes from 9/04 and the 4 that were just replaced have date codes of 6/05. At least now I am getting somewhere. Kudos to Weathermatic for their support.

    Al
    Last edited by amartin725; 08-02-2005 at 08:53 AM.

  10. #10

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    So much for being resolved..

    Had 3 more zones go down this week, 3 bad solenoids replaced. I tried once again to contact the owner of the irrigation company and was thwarted once again by the "he's not in the office" syndrome. Maybe sooner or later all these $12 solenoids and $100 service call fees I keep getting credited for will turn on a light bulb in someone’s head. Until then, I'm done working on it myself, I'll just keep calling when it breaks.

  11. #11

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    Two things I would check at this point are the gauge of wiring that was run to the valves and the water pressure to the system.
    Undersized wiring to the valves can cause this type of problem as well as excessive pressure at the valves.
    16 gauge wire should be the minimum wire size for a small residential irrigation system, if the contractor used 18 gauge or smaller wire then there may be enough of a voltage drop when the solenoid is operating to cause damage to the solenoid.
    Excessive water pressure at the valve will cause the solenoid to have to work harder to open, the increased amperage required to operate the solenoid can also cause damage to the solenoid.

  12. #12

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    Finally had a chance to look into this, have been too frustrated up until now. The wire running to the valves is 18 AWG, solid strand (measured .0405" Diameter). Additionally, there are no markings on the wires or cable jacket at all (UL, etc..). Cheap wire.

    I switch between the well and street water at times. The well maxes at 60PSI, but I'm not sure what the street water pressure is. I'll measure to verify.

    There is a high iron content in the water and even though I have a fine particle filter in the system, sprinkler heads stop rotating and need to be replaced too frequently for my liking. Time for a softener I guess.

  13. #13

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    This was listed as part of the technical specs for the Weathermatci valves installed in my system:

    Wiring requires a single lead from the controller to each solenoid, plus a common neutral to all solenoids; type UF wire, U.L. listed, is recommended for all hookups.
    It lists a max psi of 125. I know I am not putting that much pressure in the system.

  14. #14
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    How many valves are on at the same time? How many are switched on at the same time? All of the return current through the neutral could be dropping the voltage so much that the solenoids don't pull in reliably.

    You could check each solenoid by testing it to see if it will operate if it is the only solenoid on the transformer. If you can get a clamp-on ammeter you can check the current out of the transformer.

    If the solenoid works when it is the only one connected, then you need to get bigger wire.

    Also, check the voltage out of the transformer when the maximum number of solenoids are connected.

  15. #15

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    Only one solenoid operates at a time and there is a programmed delay between one to the next, so there is time between zones to prevent the in-rush current from overloading. That should not be an issue, the controller is designed to handle that.

    Transformer and coil voltages during use are not an issue, I've monitored these. At one point, I was documentating the coil resistance and coil currents daily. Just by looking at the trends, I could predict to the day which zone would have an error code when I got home from work. Why should I have to though? For all the money that I spent to not have to baby-sit my lawn, I do it more now than ever.

    In the spring, I have a few more tricks to try. If they fail, I'm done screwing with it. It will be time to get someone else involved.

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