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:
  1. The valve is 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 any also check the pressure relief screws are tight. .
  2. The valve is failing and it’s not a controller problem, see below for more details.
  3. The controller is just programmed incorrectly or got reset and is now running the default program, see below for more details.
    Note that the ABC switch does not set which schedule is going 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.
  4. 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, it is not a controller problem.

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.

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

  1. Hi

    I have a RD-1200
    It has been working fine until I just noticed it has now been coming on every day when it was scheduled for only 3 days a week. It comes on the right time and runs the program correctly.

    I tried setting it off for every day of the week and tested it again and it is still coming on at the set time every day.

    So I had to turn switch to Off/Stop to prevent it frI’m coming on.

    Any suggestions?

    • Hi Jeff,
      It’s likely it has a programmed start time that you don’t expect to be there. Set the switch on set-programs, and the program/schedule to A. Then check all three start times. they should be off except for your expected start time.

      Then move the program switch to B and make sure it’s start times are all off; then repeat for C.

      Let me know if that helps.

  2. I turned my controller to OFF at the very bottom since it has been rainy as of late and I don’t want to water if it is pouring outside. However my whole sprinkler system runs through all zones at normal times as if it were in the RUN position. Any ideas?

    • Hi Brittany,

      I suspect that the switch has failed. If you send it in, I have replacements and will upgrade other parts that commonly fail so you’ll be ‘good to go’ for many years to come.

      Brian – aka the rd600 RainDialDoctor

  3. My raindial will not turn off one of the systems. Everything is disconnected- I have no idea where the solinid is in the ground to turn it off. – it is buried under dirt and grass somewhere. The only way I can turn it off is to turn my pump off! Then I have no water! Please help thanks

    • Hi, if you turn off power to the timer or unplug it and the water stays on, then your valve must be faulty and it is not turning off correctly.

  4. My system goes on when not scheduled any day any time. What is the problem
    I have a rain dial-r. Brand new and values are 2 years old

    • Hi Barb,
      I need a little more info to know what’s happening. When a valve is on when it’s not supposed to be, turn the dial to the valve/station number that’s on. Look at the display and tell me what it says. If it says A:xx then you know that schedule A is running. If B or C then schedule B or C is running.

      Once you know what schedule is running, examine the programming for that schedule and try to see what’s causing the problem. Things to look at are; AM/PM differences, Minutes vs Hours when the duration is set, and you can also follow the factory reset instructions on the DIY troubleshooting page.

      Let me know what you find out,
      Brian – the RainDial RD600 series “doctor” for irritrol timers.

  5. I replaced the valve at the water hose end of rd-600. Now it won’t shut off using the stop off button. It will only shut on the setting position and only after I hit the semi-auto button.

    • Hi Ruben,

      If they do not turn off, try disconnecting the ribbon cable from the back terminal board, or shutting off power to the system while the valve is stuck “on”. If it stays on when you have removed the cable and/or removed power, it’s a problem with the valve, not the timer.
      The timer should show the valve number in the top of the LCD when it has turned on that valve. If that number is there, you need to program the timer to not turn the valve on. See the programming information page on this site for more info on how to program it.

      Let me know if that helps,

      • It stayed on , Aftrer I turn the power off. I had just replaced the valve ( Home Depot) . Should I order a certain brand online? Also could I have hooked up the two electrical wires backward?

        • The wires on the valve solenoid are AC, so there’s really not a way to wire them up backwards or forwards, either way works, that’s why the usually make the wires both the same color (black). It sounds like you’ve got dirt or something in the valve mechanics that are causing it some troubles; make sure if it has a manual on/off function that it’s closed off tightly. It should be off so the timer controls when it comes on. Good luck,

  6. I replaced the valve at the water hose end, on my rd600 drip system, now the stop/off won’t turn the system off, it only turn off on the setting position and only after I hit the semi control. Then it turn on by itself in a few minutes

  7. My valve 10 was staying on and there must be a leak somewhere near a drain as the water exits via front drain. I coukdnt find the break so as it does not appear to water anything, I switched it off on the controller. It still leaked. I then switched of the system, disconnected the wire on the controller for valve 10. Ran system in semi automatic mode all the way through and no leak. When it starts automatically however using the timer, the leak recurs. I have repeated this scenario multiple times with the same results. Why would it not activate/leak in semiauto mode and activate/leak in automatic mode. What should I test next to resolve

    • Hi Amanda, I’ll have to gather some more information first. I don’t believe it should behave differently with manual vs. semi-auto except that you could have additional valved programmed to turn on that are not activated when you use manual.
      1) Do you have an RD-600, or and RD-600-R.
      You said you have valve 10, but there are only 6 valves on an RD600. Can you explain more?
      2) Do you have a “pump” in addition to the valves that turns on when your irrigation is being watered. Pumps are often used with big systems or those with little water pressure.
      Let me know,

      • The model is actually RD9plus-ext. On the front it says Raindialplus 12.
        I am not sure whether there is a pump. What would it look like and where would I find it.

        • Also, I definitely do not have the timer set for valve 10. I also removed its wire from the timer to ensure it cannot be set by mistake. I am currently running the system in semiautomatic daily so it does not leak. Automatic mode leaks

        • Some things are still not adding up for me since I can’t figure out how you’d have valve 10 on a RD9 which should be a 9 station.
          Can you send a couple photos of:
          1)The case/part number,
          2) The module with Dial
          3) a picture of what indicates Valve 10 is on
          4)any other relevant photos
          to rainDialDoctor@gmail.com. We’ll get it figured out, I just need to gather some more info …

  8. When putting it in semi -auto mode it restarts at the end of the cycle. This problem just started recently. Thanks for any info you can provide

    • Hi Pat,

      I’d like to help, but need a little more info. When you say it restarts at the end of the cycle, what do you mean. Does it run the cycle again, or just say Off? Let me know,

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