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Thread: Finding a valve box

  1. #1

    Default Finding a valve box

    I think I have a leak somewhere (losing lots of pressure) , but I cannot find the valve box for my sprinklers. I think the builder layed sod over it. Is there any way to find it without digging up the yard?

  2. #2

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    They use a metal detector to find the valves. You'll have a valve for every station.

  3. #3
    In the Trades brownizs's Avatar
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    If you know the "lay" of the sprinkler runs, get a log rebar rod or such, and you can use it as a probe to check for the valve box, if the metal detector does not work out. Also, if you have a Tone tracer that is used for eletrical line tracing, you can use it also. Easy way is the metal probe.

  4. #4
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    The valve box should not be deep, so probing with a rod should work OK. Of course, if you can get someone with a metal detector, it would be even simpler and it would make your friend's day to ask him to show off his toy!

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default valve

    Unfortunately, most residential valves are plastic so a metal detector is useless. The ideal way is to rent a valve locator device from an irrigation system supplier, if they have one, which sends a signal through the wire so you can follow the wire, and when you reach the valve it creates a "null" zone where the signal disappears. Regular wire tracers are almost useless because they follow all the wires, so unless your valve is at the very end of a run, you will go right by it.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member sgm50's Avatar
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    Default Finding PVC Runs

    Along the same line of thought, is there a good method to "discover" and map out the irrigation system. I bought a house and therefore inherited an irrigation system that has obviously been patched a time or two. I'd like to be able to identify the PVC and zones beyond just turning on the water. Do professionals have some kind of detector that I could rent etc...?

    Regarding finding the valves, isn't there enough metal in the the valve/solenoid for the metal detector to work? I've found that valves are not neccessarily located with any ryme or reason. Some are all together near the water source and timer box, others are distributed all over the yard with long wire runs etc... good luck

  7. #7
    Software Engineer osx-addict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sgm50
    Along the same line of thought, is there a good method to "discover" and map out the irrigation system. I bought a house and therefore inherited an irrigation system that has obviously been patched a time or two. I'd like to be able to identify the PVC and zones beyond just turning on the water. Do professionals have some kind of detector that I could rent etc...?

    Regarding finding the valves, isn't there enough metal in the the valve/solenoid for the metal detector to work? I've found that valves are not neccessarily located with any ryme or reason. Some are all together near the water source and timer box, others are distributed all over the yard with long wire runs etc... good luck

    I'd love to find something like this as well.. We've got some serious problems with our backyard layout (lots of brown spots due to inconsistent sprinkler head placements) and I'm tempted to redesign the old enchilada, but have no idea about where to find the existing piping in the ground other than to start at one spot and start digging.. Unfortunately, in our spot, our left side of the yard is shaded and "wet" and the right side is sunny and dry (like a desert) and I'd love to reconfigure the sprinklers to act accordingly (meaning to run them parallel to the wet/dry sides so I can water the wet side less and the dry side more -- currently the sprinklers are perpendicular to those area so I've got no control over that issue).. Anyway, I searched on Google groups for this issue and while lots of people had lots of theories, none seem to practical to me..

  8. #8
    Software Engineer osx-addict's Avatar
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    Default One newer way to solve this problem...

    In reviewing some new sprinkler controllers, one of the Weathermatic models (SL1600 in their SmartLine series) is capable of forcing a sort of chatter for one particular solenoid on a single valve-- below is their description :

    Locate hidden valves by simply listening for the audible chatter of the solenoid created by a unique electrical current (patent pending)
    So, if you are interested in replacing your controller as well, this may solve your hidden valve issue perhaps.. If you want a flier for this controller, you can find it HERE

    I should note that I've got none of this companies products so far, but one of my local irrigation supply houses did say that they're selling these controllers quite well -- a local county just bought 3 batches of 500 controllers each (1500 total) for their own use. Anyway, just thought I'd pass that along..

  9. #9
    Software Engineer osx-addict's Avatar
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    Default

    I ran across THIS Pro600 finder (made by ProTech equipment I gather) on E*bay today that might fit the bill for locating buried valves.. Might be worth it -- might not..?

  10. #10

    Default Finding valve boxes

    This can be very challenging but I found mine....

    If you can rent or borrow an electronic underground cable tracing device you can find them without difficulty. I used a "Cable Hound" which I bought on E-bay. There is NO WAY I would have succeeded without the electronics-some of the boxes had eight inches of soil over the lids. With it I found all 16 of my valve boxes in one Saturday morning.

    The combination of depth and small metallic content limits metal detector effectiveness almost completely.

    Good luck

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member jeffgt's Avatar
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    I have a Rainbird ESP-6TM controller which actuates the valves with 24VAC. Here's how I found my valves.

    1. I shut off the main valve to the sprinkler system. If you don't know where the main valve is, you may turn off the valve at your water meter.

    2. I disconnected the white wire (common) and the colored wire that controls the valve I was looking for, from the controller.

    3. See photo below. I connected the black clamp from a 12V car battery charger to the white wire (green jumper in photo). I connected the red clamp to a saw blade. I connected another jumper to the colored wire (red jumper in photo).

    Name:  locateValve.jpg
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    4. Then I had someone run the unconnected end of the red jumper back and forth along the saw teeth while I walked around the yard listening for a clicking noise from the valve.

    I was able to locate all six valves quickly in this way.
    Last edited by jeffgt; 07-04-2012 at 09:47 AM.

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