What to do if the dial breaks off

If the dial breaks off or gets very difficult to turn, you have some options.

  1. You can send it to us for repair.  We’ll also give it a good tune up and replace any other internal components that sometime fail, that way you’ll not only get another dial, but also know the rest of your timer should keep working well for a long time.  (Our oldest timer that we’ve repaired and put back in service was dated 1991, so they have a lot of life in them).
  2. Do it yourself options:  You can contact Irritrol directly and ask them to send you a replacement plastic dial; they usually do.   They’re not too difficult to replace on your own.  Look at the irritrol.com website for their phone number.

 

 

Why does my Rain Dial Plus say Opn/Open

I often get questions about what it means when the timer says Opn or Open.  This message comes from the term ‘open circuit’ which means that the timer tried to turn on a valve, but the circuit was open, meaning a wire is disconnected, broken, or the solenoid is broken.

Typically this problem is caused by loose wiring or a bad solenoid.  Examine the connections at the timer and at the valves, typically found in a ground box.

It could also be caused by a timer or a back terminal board problem.  If you’re wiring looks good, you can send the timer and back terminal board to us for repair. 

You can test the valves and wiring ahead of time by following some of the steps to test the transformer.  Start with Check #3 on this page.  If you’re able to operate the valve, you know the transformer, wiring and valve are good.

We hope this helps, if so, consider making small donation on our donation page; we’re really appreciate it.

How to replace the transformer

Transformers rarely fail,and when they do, it’s usually caused by people not turning the power off when they are moving wires and the 24VAC wires touch.  Sometimes a failed solenoid could cause transformer problems but the timer usually shuts off and issues a FUS message before the transformer is damaged.  Some models also have fuses on the back terminal board that help protect it.

A note of caution – the transformer is connected to your household 110/120VAC power, which is dangerous.  Be sure to take precautions by turning off the power before working on the unit.  You should not attempt it unless you are experienced enough to do so.  This post does not contain sufficient information to work with these voltages safely; If in doubt, contact someone who is qualified. 

Most of the time people think that the transformer is bad when it isn’t,  Follow the DIY page topic on ‘How to test if the transformer is good’ to know for sure.

If you conclude that the transformer is bad, you can use the following information to help you understand how to replace it. I generally start on the left side and work my way around counter-clockwise.

After removing the case, you’ll see how the transformer is connected into the case.  You can often find them on ebay or at a local landscape supply store.It should be rated for 1.25A, 24VAC.

   

 

The transformer typically looks like this.

If this info has helped you, please consider making a donation – we depend on you to keep this information available.

Good luck,

Brian, Jen, Meghan and Ben – the rainDialDoctors

Understanding the RD600 Irritrol Skip Days feature

When I set the skip day number to 1 – does that mean it skips every other day?

Bill

—————

Hi Bill,

The Irritrol RainDial RD600 Skip days feature is often misunderstood and difficult to understand, so thanks for the question.  The short answer to your question is no.  setting it to ‘1’ will water every day.   This should help explain why:

I like to think of the skip days feature like a daily incrementing counter that starts at 1 and goes to the number you specify and then repeats. E.g., for a skip days setting of 3, it goes like this: 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3. When the counter matches the number, the watering schedule will run.

Instead of ‘skip days’, think of it as ‘water every # days.’
So if it’s 2, it waters every 2nd day, which is every other day: 1,2,1,2. If you set it to ‘1’, it waters every 1 day, which is ‘every day.’

Although I’ve answered your question, one may ask:  How do I know what today is in the sequence of days?    You determine that by putting the dial on ‘Today.’  It will show you the current number in the sequence.  You can also change the number of ‘today’ by pressing the +- buttons when in programming mode.

E.g., if you have skip days set for 3 and you want it to water tomorrow, set ‘today’ to ‘2’.

I hope this helped.
Thanks,
Brian – aka the RD600 Rain Dial Doctor for Irritrol timers

My 9V battery keeps dying, what does that mean?

When Irritrol RainDial batteries keep draining faster than they should (usually they last at least a year or more), it is a sign that the controller is failing, but has not failed completely.

As the parts fail they can degrade slowly and the battery ends up providing power to compensate.  However, this causes the battery to drain faster, meaning it may last a week, or month instead of a year.  Eventually you’ll have to replace it more and more frequently until even a new battery won’t be enough for it to work.

There’s no way to really predict when a new battery will not be enough to make it work. One thing is for sure: “you’re living on borrowed time.”

You can wait if you want, but it’s usually better to get it taken care now, otherwise Murphy’s law usually kicks in and it’ll fail right before you are headed out on a long vacation 🙂   They often are intermittent as they’re failing, so it will not water, but when you notice the dying plants, but when you test it, it’ll seem to be working.  When it’s “on the edge of complete failure” it sometimes works, and other times not.  The temperature often effects the behavior.

Irritrol RainDial timers are well made an with a quick repair can last another 10 years. Repairs are the core of our business and we’d appreciate it if you’d select us to do the it.

 

What to do if the outer case door breaks off?

Irritrol RainDial Interior/Exterior Case Configurations

The Rain Dial series of controllers come in two main configurations – interior and exterior.   The exterior models have fairly solid housing and hinge mechanism.  They also have the transformer contained on the rectangular section to the right.
The interior irritrol raindial models contain an separate transformer that plugs into an AC outlet.   The hinge on the case is just a thin layer of plastic that can eventually wear down and break off.

What do do when the Case Door breaks off

Here are my thoughts on what to do with a broken hinge:
Unfortunately, there are note any good “official” solutions that I’m aware of. However, several customers have reported reasonable success with the following options:
  1. Use the extra thick black “Gorilla” duct tape; it’s very durable and has a good adhesive, better than typical duct tape.  They sell this at lots of stores including Home Depot and Lowes. 
  2. Use the packing tape that has the nylon strings built into it
  3. You might be able to add your own metal hinge to it, but that a bit more work; they sell small hinges in most hardware stores.
  4. Check with a local landscaper – sometimes they purchase the interior models because they’re cheaper and then take the controller module out of them to put in an exterior case (they’re actually the same, it’s the transformer that is rated external or internal).   Thus, they often throw out the interior case…

If anyone has other solutions, please comment below.

Thanks,
Brian
(c) copyright 2017 Brian Keller – aka the RainDialDoctor

Why does my controller say P:On or P:Off

The RD600/900/1200-R RainDial Timers may display P:On or P:Off on the LCD.

This is one of the features in the new -R series of Irritrol sprinkler timers.  It’s described in the manual in more detail, but basically does this.  The Sprinkler timer has a pump control signal that normally turns on when a particular valve is turned on.  Most people I know don’t have a pump to boost pressure in their irrigation system so it’s not a common feature for the general urban irrigation system.   If for some reason you did not want the pump to come on when a particular valve was on, you can turn it off by setting the main switch to the Set-Programs position, the dial to the valve you want to change the pump settings for, and then press the Manual-On button.  It will toggle between P:On and P:Off each time you press Manual – On.

If you don’t have a pump, it doesn’t matter whether you turn this feature on or off.  If you do have a pump, you’ll know what to do.

If you’re not expecting this to appear on the LCD, you probably need to slide the switch to the “run” position instead of “set programs.

I hope that helps,
The RainDialDoctor

What’s the difference between an RD-600 and RD600-R

Difference between the -R and regular series connectors.

  1. The RD600-R and other -R models have additional wiring to support a rain sensor.  However, it is still possible to use a rain sensor on the older model.  Enter rain sensor in the search box for more info on that.
  2. The biggest difference between the -R models and the standard model is that the -R model has a different size connector (20 pins instead of 16).  There are adapters that allow you to convert between the two sizes.  You can also do some jury-rigging to make them work, but it’s not a “clean” solution.   Alternatively, you can replace the controller and the back-connector board at the same time, which avoids the connector mismatch.
  3. My favorite new feature of the -R series is the rain delay.  If it rains today, you can go out and tell the timer to stop watering for 3 days, or however many you want to delay.
  4. One other key difference is that the RD600-R series saves the programming in non-volatile memory so even if the battery dies, the programming will be saved.  The RD-600 will lose it’s programming if power is removed and the 9V battery is dead or missing.

Should I upgrade to the RD600-R series?

There’s no serious reason to upgrade to the newer series of controllers.  The new features are nice, but not really necessary.  The repair we do is solid and it will last a long time.  Unless the controller is in bad physical shape due to extreme exposure to the elements, it’s usually better to fix it instead of upgrade.
Contact us or enter a question/comment on the Q&A page if you have more questions.

How do I program the RD600

For help programming the RainDial RD600-1200 series sprinkler/irrigation controllers, see the following programming guide and then review the manuals above. This is a quick guide, not the user manual.  If you’d like to see the full manual, click here.

Irritrol Programming Templates and Tips

What to do if you can’t open the case door or lost your key

If you have an Irritrol RD-nnnn key and it won’t open:

There’s usually a plastic key you turn on the side of the case to open it.  While you turn it and keep it turned, pull on the door; they sometimes stick closed a bit.

Usually when this happens, it’s caused by the door having a fair bit of friction due to dust or dirt.

Try turning the key clockwise enough that you feel some resistance and give the door slow pull.  If that doesn’t work, sometimes too much pulling pressure prevents the key mechanism from turning. Try pushing the door closed more and see if the key will then turn a little more and  try pulling on the door again.

If you don’t have an Irritrol RainDial key:

(Also consider borrowing one from a neighbor to get in.  You can usually buy them on Ebay for a few bucks or call Irritrol directly if I’m out of stock.)  If those don’t work, read on.
If you don’t have a key, you can usually get into the case with a slot screw driver.  It takes some patience, but you have two methods to emulate the key behavior. The key is just a star-shaped gear that connects with another gear to lift the plunger from the hole in the case door.
1) find a screw driver about as wide as the hole, put it in and rotate it clockwise, trying to catch the teeth of the mating gear like the key would.
2) put the screw driver in the hole at a 30-degree position (about 1:30 on an analog clock) with the blade horizontal to the ground and lever it downward to about 3:00). the goal is to slide the driver into the grove of the inner gear and lever it it upward.
Forcing it open will often break the catch on the case, or the square loop in the door that it catches.  Many used timers I see have the inner door “loop” broken so it doesn’t catch any more.  There’s usually a lot of friction around the door that can keep it shut without even needing the locking mechanism to work.

To get a new Rain Dial key:

Most local landscaping supply stores (not big-box stores like home depot, but more like the landscapers supply stores that just deal with landscaping).  They should have them as well. Ebay typically has them for sale.
The best thing to do is just get a key – look at the store tab, you should be able to buy one. If not, you can contact www.Irritrol.com – look for their customer service number and they may just send one to you for free.
I hope that helps,
Brian

Ask your questions here – (They will appear shortly)

To avoid spam and other problems, your comment won’t appear until it’s been approved.  Don’t worry if you don’t see it right away.

To add a question, go to the bottom of the page, fill in the comment and click Post Comment.  

Please look at the DIY Troubleshooting section before posting, answers to most questions can be found there. 

You can also reply to other people’s questions if you like. (Thanks for helping)

Please try to include the following with your question, list:
1) the date code (located under the battery),
2) the model number shown on the face of the controller (usually below and to the left of the dial, e.g., RD-600 or RD-600-R).
3) Color (mostly Gray or Blue) based on the example rainDials shown at the top of the page.

Display says OFF or Blinks

RainDial display blinks OFF or flashes

If you try to turn on a valve manually (by selecting a valve, adding minutes with the + button) and the LCD just goes back to OFF, it’s typically one of two things.

(Note, this problem usually means the controller needs repairing, we’d appreciate your business if the following troubleshooting information suggests the controller needs repairing.  Thanks!)

  1. The controller is overloaded with a shorted valve or wiring problem.
    1. Some older systems don’t have or show a Fuse error message, so follow the instructions the Fuse: Link
    2. Valve problems causing this problem are easily solved by replacing the valve solenoid.  They’re fairly easy to replace.  I usually take a photo of the valve to a local landscape store so they know what I”m looking for.  Read the troubleshooting tip below.
  2. If the problem happens with more than one valve; it means the controller is failing. This is a problem we repair frequently (the cornerstone of our business); the repair is solid and well worth doing.

Troubleshooting tip: Is the valve a problem or the controller?

A good way to tell the difference is if the problem occurs with more than one valve.  If more than one valve shows the problem then it’s a problem with the controller.  If only one sprinkler valve exhibits the problem, try swapping the screw terminal wire of that valve with a different one.  If the “problem” follows the valve, it’s a valve issue.

We hope this was helpful – if it was, use our services or consider a friendly donation.  Thank you.

Click here to contact us or here to see How do I send it in for repair?

Why is a sprinkler valve is stuck on

If you have a sprinkler valve that doesn’t turn off, or sticks on, the problem is most likely due to one or more of the following:
  1. The valve is failing and it’s not a controller problem
  2. The controller is just programmed incorrectly
  3. The controller is failing – causes strange behavior, seems to work, then does something unexpected. This is quite common
It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what’s going on.  The first two are for you to investigate, the last one I can solve for you.
Item 1: Next time the water is “on” when it shouldn’t be, turn off power to the controller, or remove the back ribbon cable (there’s pictures of this on the rainDialDoctor website, see
This disconnects the controller from the valves, so if the valves stay on, it’s a valve problem, not a controller problem. Replace/repair the valve.
If you can’t wait for it to stick “on” again,
  • Try manually turning on a valve and then turn it off.  When you turn it off, the valve should go off within 10 seconds.  If not, the valve may be a problem.
  • Re-check the programming – all three schedules A,B and C.  See Item 2 below.
Item 2: Go to this you tube video to learn how to program it; it’s actually pretty easy and the video does a nice job.  It should apply to just about any model similar to the one shown.  If you want to call me when you’re in front of the controller, I can double check your settings for you.  I’m available on weekends and in the evenings – just let me know what times work for you.
Item 3: If the controller still seems to be causing problems, it’s probably just failing and needs to be repaired.  This is VERY COMMON and likely the cause. I do this all the time and the success rate is near perfect, cost and time are  reasonable.  Let me know and I’ll send you details; this is how I put a lot of food on the table these days.

 

What if a RD600 valve is stuck on, won’t turn off, or comes on when it shouldn’t?

Read when an Irritrol RD600 controller turns a valve on or runs a schedule unexpectedly, or if a valve stays stuck on.

(This and all information on the RainDialDoctor website is copy-righted by Brian Keller.)

Summary: Typical Causes:

If a valve is on when it’s not supposed to be, or won’t turn off; it’s likely due to one or more of the following, each refers to steps you can follow to solve the problem:
If the valve/station never turns off: 
  1. If it won’t every shut off, it is likely turned on manually at the valve (in the valve box typically underground) The valve itself should normally be in the off position so that it can be turned on by energizing the solenoid on top of the valve).  If turned on, nothing can turn it off. Make sure the solenoid it tight (hand tighten snugly) and also check the pressure relief screws are tight if you have them.
  2. The valve is failing and it’s not a controller problem, see below for more details.

There is detailed troubleshooting help later on this page that will help you understand what is happening and how to fix it.

If the valve/station turns on when it isn’t supposed to : 
  1. The controller went through a reset or power outage or has inadvertently been programmed incorrectly and is now running the default program (set to every station @ 7am, every day for 10 minutes), see below for more details.
  2. The controller programming is misunderstood:  The ABC switch does choose which schedule to run; it’s only used to program the schedules.  Schedule AB&C always run, regardless of the switch setting. Thus, if you do not want A to run, then you must “un-program it” by putting the switch on A and setting all the start times to off.
  3. The controller is failing – causes strange behavior, seems to work, then does something unexpected.  Failing controllers typically cause valves to not turn on, so if they’re stuck on, it’s usually not the controller.  If you believe it is, try turning off the controller’s power.  If the valves stay on, the controller is not the problem.

There is detailed troubleshooting help later on this page that will help you understand what is happening and how to fix it.

Guide to overall understanding:

Before you read further, it’s important to know when the timer has turned on a valve vs. when the valve is on even when the timer doesn’t “think” it should be on.   Here’s how to tell the difference:
If the Irritrol RD-600 series timer has turned on a valve (because it was programmed to or was instructed to manually) it will display the valve number on the top row of the LCD screen.  The following indicates that the controller has (or is trying to) turn on valve 4 as shown.
RD-600 LCD with Station 4 active

RD-600 LCD with Station 4 active with Time

 If you don’t think this valve should be on, check the scheduled, time of day, day of the week etc.

Here are some other troubleshooting steps  for the Irritrol RD600 series sprinkler controller:

Step 1: Next time a valve is “on” when it shouldn’t be, turn the off power to the controller, or remove the back ribbon cable as shown below; this disconnects the controller from the valves.

Irritrol RainDial troubleshooting – removing the ribbon cable

If the valves stay on, it’s usually caused by a problem with the valve, not a controller or electrical wiring problem.
You can replace/repair the valve yourself; many times you can simply replace just the guts of the valve and not have to cut the valve out, which is a lot more effort and you might want to contact a lawn care or landscaping service for more assistance.  To do it yourself, you can take a photo of the valve to an irrigation supply store and ask them to sell you the “guts”.  Usually this fixes it, and you don’t need to cut any pipes, just replace the guts and screw it back together.
If you can’t wait for it to stick “on” again,
  • Try manually turning on a valve and then turn it off.  When you turn it off, the valve should go off within 10 seconds.  If not, the valve is likely the problem.
  • Re-check the programming – all three schedules A,B and C.  See Item 2 below.

If the valve goes off, it’s likely a problem caused by the controller; plug the ribbon cable back in and: 

  1. Check the programming (item 2 below).  If you see a small number on the top of the LCD display, it means the controller has turned that valve number on.  It should only do this if it’s programmed to do so.  Check the time and programming to make sure they’re correct.  If it all looks good, try the next step.
  2. Try resetting the sprinkler controller – link
  3. You’ve done all you can, the problem seems to be the controller; we can repair it.  (Item 3 below)
Step 2: If you repeatedly have problems with programming or times changing, you should send it in for repair.  However, if you think you may have a programming issue, go to this you tube video to learn how to program it; it’s actually pretty easy and the video does a nice job.  It should apply to just about any model similar to the one shown.
The Irritrol RainDial RD600 series Training video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhHTeucdKgA
  • Note that older timers will reset on a power outage to turn on every valve, every day at 7am for 10min.  Double check the programming has not changed unexpectedly.
  • Day of the week or time of day – watch out for the subtle difference between the A and P in AM/PM.  It’s the only complaint I have about the Irritrol timers.
Step 3: If the RD-600 series controller still seems to be causing problems or is just acting strange, it’s probably just failing and needs to be repaired.  This is VERY COMMON and likely the cause. I do this all the time and the success rate is near perfect, cost and time are  reasonable.
Contact me for more information.