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Old 02-28-2013, 12:57 PM   #1
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Reviving an old sprinkler system


I just moved into a house that has an existing sprinkler system. I have no idea how old it is, and I don't have any experience with sprinkler systems. There is no timer/control box attached. I dug around my back yard and found 6 old valves buried just off our back porch, right underneath an old spigot, each with 2 wires attached to them going to nowhere. The valves are metal, not plastic like the new ones I see for sale.

If I wanted to test this system to see if the valves and everything still worked, would I just need to buy a timer, connect it to power and all of the valve wires? The spigot above the valves has nothing attached to it. How would the spigot normally attach to the sprinkler system? Would I be better off just replacing these old valves rather than trying to fix these?

I know this might not be enough detail, but I'm kind of just looking for a place to start here. I can take photos of everything and upload them if needed. Thanks!

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Old 02-28-2013, 06:13 PM   #2
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Reviving an old sprinkler system


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Originally Posted by winotron View Post
I just moved into a house that has an existing sprinkler system. I have no idea how old it is, and I don't have any experience with sprinkler systems. There is no timer/control box attached. I dug around my back yard and found 6 old valves buried just off our back porch, right underneath an old spigot, each with 2 wires attached to them going to nowhere. The valves are metal, not plastic like the new ones I see for sale.

If I wanted to test this system to see if the valves and everything still worked, would I just need to buy a timer, connect it to power and all of the valve wires? The spigot above the valves has nothing attached to it. How would the spigot normally attach to the sprinkler system? Would I be better off just replacing these old valves rather than trying to fix these?

I know this might not be enough detail, but I'm kind of just looking for a place to start here. I can take photos of everything and upload them if needed. Thanks!
You'll have to find out if you have water connected to the system,do you know if the valves are in a manifold, the water will be connected on one side or the other.

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Old 03-01-2013, 11:34 AM   #3
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Reviving an old sprinkler system


First find where they attach to the main water line, there is usually a box that will have a shut off valve and a back flow preventer unless it was not installed way back when. If you know the valves are getting water, you can manually turn 1 on by turning the top of the valve or using a screw driver and turning a screw on the head to open the valve. Try and take a pic so we can see what you are looking at. You may have a master valve that will need to be opened up first.

When you say the wires go nowhere.... are they just cut? Post some pics!
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:55 AM   #4
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Reviving an old sprinkler system


I already tried opening the valves to see if there was water, and there was nothing. Forgot to mention that in my original post. Our ground here is incredibly hard and dry, so it's not as easy to dig around these valves as it sounds. I will dig deeper though and see if I can find where it attaches to the main water line.

And yes, sorry, the wires from the valves are cut. I also found a bunch of wires about 6' long also buried nearby, that were cut on both ends. I assume those once connected the valves to the timer.

I just realized that up by our water meter on our porch, where there is another spigot, there is a white PVC pipe that comes up out of the ground and turns at a 90 degree angle, but is not connected to anything. The pipe looks like the same type and size as all the pipes carrying water to the sprinkler heads. The water meter and spigot are maybe 2 feet away to the right... if this white pipe did connect with the water here, would it connect directly to the spigot here or would there be another valve coming off the spigot to connect to? If this does connect with the valves, it has to run underneath our concrete patio. Obviously I cannot completely follow where it goes, but I can dig around my valves and see if there is a white pipe going in that direction.

http://postimage.org/image/prk1k7gfp/

My water meter and spigot is just above the right side of this photo. I will take some more photos after work today and upload them. Thanks for the suggestions so far.

Last edited by winotron; 03-01-2013 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 03-05-2013, 03:11 PM   #5
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Reviving an old sprinkler system


Here is a picture of the spigot and water meter right near that white PVC connection:

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Old 03-12-2013, 07:17 PM   #6
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Reviving an old sprinkler system


best bet for digging is to water the area you want to dig for 10-15 mins every day for at least a week, so it soaks in good and deep. makes digging much easier. one way to test the sprinkler heads is to find a 24v rechargable drill and use the battery to on each of the valves.
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Old 03-13-2013, 11:58 AM   #7
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Reviving an old sprinkler system


I connected a small piece of hose from the spigot to the PVC next to it, and the water made it to all of the valves. That was a relief. I still need to connect the timer and see if the water makes it to any sprinkler heads. I have a 24V cordless drill, so I may try the battery trick first! I was wrong about the valves being metal, they are actually plastic, they just look pretty old.

I also did a whole lot of digging over the weekend, and found that the 3 PVCs that lead to my front yard have been crushed. They go all the way to the side of my house, and where the elbow would be to make the pipes turn around the corner, they are crushed and cut.

I also dug around on the side of the house trying to at least find where they did connect, but couldn't find anything. I guess I have some pipes to replace. Next I will have to follow a sprinkler head in the front and see where the pipes stop on that end.

Thanks for the suggestions so far, guys.

Last edited by winotron; 03-13-2013 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 03-14-2013, 08:43 PM   #8
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Reviving an old sprinkler system


good long soaking each day once or twice a day for a week or two will help tons with the digging. don't water the day before though, that way your not digging mud.

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