DIY Troubleshooting

Scroll down to see the many DIY troubleshooting topics below

Please go through the following DIY list; if you don’t see what you are looking for, you can look through the Q&A and/or ask a new question about your sprinkler timer.

This do-it-yourself page will help you troubleshoot and diagnose problems with the Irritrol Rain Dial RD-600 and other irrigation systems.  We don’t want you to send in a sprinkler timer in for repair if it doesn’t need it. Click the links below to navigate the troubleshooting sections.  If you’re asking “How do I …”, keep reading.

For RainDial PROGRAMMING HELP and manuals, click here

Choose the Rain Dial problem troubleshooting topic below.

  1. Sprinkler/irrigation valves chatter or buzz or water pressure seems low.
  2. Display says FUS or FU5 and a number
  3. Display shows 5En or SEn
  4. Display shows OF1 or OF… some number
  5. Dispaly shows P:On or P:Off
  6. Display shows OFF or blinks when turning on a valve manually
  7. Display is blinking – see above
  8. Time is frozen or cannot change the time
  9. Valves do not come on when they’re supposed to
  10. Determine if the valves are good
  11. Valves are stuck on or come on when they’re not supposed to
  12. Valves will not shut off
  13. The case door won’t open or you lost your key 
  14. The case door breaks off or comes apart

Choose from Other Helpful Rain Dial and “How do I …” topics below

  1. How to check the fuse
  2. How to test the transformer to know if the transformer is bad
  3. How to test if the valves or solenoids are bad.
  4. How to reset the RainDial controller and set it to factory defaults
  5. Programming tutorial
  6. Programming worksheet
  7. Typical Sprinkler Valve Wiring Diagram

Here is a video showing common symptoms that indicate when a Rain Dial Controller needs to be repaired.


If this information wasn’t enough to resolve the issue, we can help:
Send it in for repair?


For other issues, or ones that are in progress and do not have a link yet, just contact us, or see details here: How do I send it in for repair?

 

71 thoughts on “DIY Troubleshooting

  1. I have an RD600. It has been installed since 1993 and I have replaced the board once. Couple of weeks ago it started running stations 4 and 5 at the same time. I figured the problem was with the solenoid on 4 not shutting off so I replaced it and the diaphragm. This seemed to solve the problem until this morning when it ran 4 and 5 again. Not quite sure what to do except replace solenoid 5. Any additional thoughts?

    • when 4 and 5 are both on, what do you see on the display (e.g., do you see a 4 and 5 at the top of the screen)? If so, you have overlapping programming. If not, then I would expect it to be a valve problem like you’ve already tried troubleshooting.

      Try using the controller’s manual function to turn on and off 4; see if it takes a long time to shut off.

      Those are a few ideas anyway, usually things staying on too long are valve issues like you’ve already been suspecting.
      Brian – aka the RD600 series rain dial doctor

      • Thx Brian for the reply. A 4 and a 5 are both displayed. What is troubling to me is it doesn’t do it all the time. Ran correctly for over a week after replacing #4 parts.
        What is overlapping programming? How do you correct it?
        I compared shut off times between 4 and (3 which is not malfunctioning) and the shut off times were comparable.

        • Hi Harv,

          There’s no “shut off time” that can be programmed. Only a start time. The shut off time is after every valve enabled for that program has finished. I believe you have something in program A overlapping with program B or C… To fix this problem, perform a factory reset (see diy page) and follow the programming instructions – see the tips and video on my page for assistance. When you reset it, it’ll default schedule A to run every station, every day for 10minutes starting at 7am. You’ll need to turn off the stations you don’t want to run.

          That should do it.
          Brian

          • Thanks Brian. I removed the scheduled times from B and C (they’re OFF now and I don’t use them that much anyway) and the system ran without a problem every time this week. I couldn’t locate factory reset on the diy page. Does this mean there is a problem with the timer when using schedule B?
            Sorry I don’t do online payments but I did drop a check in the mail this morning. Thanks for your help.

            • Thanks. I’m glad it’s working better. The reset info should be item D. above. Happy 4th of July,
              Brian

  2. Hi Brian,

    Just reconnected my irritatrol rain sensor as the batteries needed to be changed. It rained the other night and even 2 days later the rain sensor light is still full red. Is there any changed I might need to make to get red rain sensor to turn off when it’s no longer wet outside? Thanks again for all your help!

    • Hi Eric,
      You can try adjusting the amount of rain level to a higher amount and see if things shut off. If that works, then it’s likely that the rain has not evaporated away yet…
      Brian – aka the RD600 series RainDial Doctor

  3. Hi Brian,

    The screen on my rain dial works fine and testing indicuals zones works as well. The programs are set but do not turn on for their program set time. The power button on the wireless rain sensor is blinking green meaning that needs batteries. Can that be a cause it’s not turning on the programs on the dial? I didn’t think the rain sensor would stop that from turning on. The programs are set the same as last year and earlier this season and are just not turning on when they should be for their set times. I may have overlooked a troubleshooting piece but cannot get the programs to work. I have yet to call irrigation service I am trying to troubleshoot myself but having difficulty. Any help is much appreciated. Thank you!

    • Hi Eric,

      The sensor shouldn’t cause it not to work (unless of course it’s sensing rain). If you have a -R model, it would show you”SEN” if the sensor were blocking it from running due to rain. You can always set the back-board switch (if you have one) to bypass to bypass the sensor.

      With that said, you have to provide more info about what it does when they don’t come on. E.g., does the timer indicate it’s on with the valve number showing up in the top row of the LCD? Or does it just show off, etc… Try manually turning on a valve : setting the dial to a valve number, lower switch to “run”, press + to add some minutes and press Manual ON. If it flashes OFF instead of M:nn (M is for manual, nn is the number of minutes you set), then I’d send it in for repair.

      Let me know if that helps,
      Brian

      • I can manually turn on the sprinklers to test them myself, yes. It doesn’t flash sensor the sensor battery was flashing before so I still need to change that which is why I asked. When you set the program and it is on the program it usually shows the zone currently on when it’s time is set. I can set for example on program A my front yard at 430am and when 430 comes nothing actually
        Turns off. I have my front yard in Monday Wednesday Friday and backyard Tuesday Thursday and Saturday and on those days nothing actually comes on for the set day and time. Maybe I’m confusing the system for he days I set front vs back yard and the program it’s on? Maybe I should
        Reset system and start over to try it? Hope I have a good enough explanation. ThNks so much for the response!

        • Hi Eric,
          I’d try a clean reset back to factory defaults – it’ll set it to run at 7am every day for 10minutes. You can then change it from there.
          I’d recommend printing the schedule templates on the programming page, just fill them in using the hand written example I provide. Once you do that, and read the overview on the page, it should clear things up.

  4. How can I see what the current program is in terms of valve run times, start times, and schedule of days that my installer set?

    I know it needs adjusting but I need to see how each station is currently set.
    I have an RD-900-R, it’s new.

    • Hi Susan,
      I’d look at the DIY menu and Programming Tutorial information – there’s a video that walks you how to program it. With that understanding, you can set the switch to “set programs” and turn the dial around to see how it’s set.

      There’s some programming templates and examples you can print out and fill in that will be very helpful in understanding… Then you can change it as needed. Give that a shot.

      brian – aka – the rainDial Doctor for RD600 series timers

  5. The control box is out of power. The display is off and sprinkler does not work when I moved the switch to run. What should I do? Is there a power cord that I unplug and plug back? disconnect wires and reconnect? Thank you.

    • Hi Chris,
      There’s a section in the DIY troubleshooting page about testing the transformer – do that first to see if you really have a power issue or not. Let me know what you find…

      Brian

  6. My lcd display is blank. I’ve checked if there is power by using a voltage meter and I do. I’m not sure what to check now? Is the timer just bad?

    • Hi Brian (good to see you spell it the “right” way)

      Yes, I believe it just needs repairing – “How to get it repaired” info; I’m happy to help if you’re willing to give me the business. (send both the controller and back connector board)

      Thanks
      Brian -aka the rainDialDoctor

  7. When I turn on my system to run a cycle only one zone will turn on. I have a six zone system and even when I try to manually run different zones it’s always the same one that comes on. I have replaced two solenoids prior to having this problem start. I’m at a loss.

    • Hi Travis,

      That’ll be a fun one to figure out. I need more info though. When you manually (with the timer) turn on, say valve 2, do you see a “2” in the upper row of the LCD screen? Or, do you always see, say “1” regardless of which one you turn on. Note that I’m only asking about what the timer “thinks” it has turned on, not what valve is actually turned on.
      RainDials are usually quite reliable and what you’re describing is not very common. Let me know a little more info and I’ll try to help more.

      Thx,
      Brian

      • Hi Brian,
        After reading a lot of diagnostic things and getting the system to work intermittently I have decided I am going to replace my controller and see if that helps. I have the older model and I’m quite certain it was in place when my house was built in 96. I’ve read that those older model controllers seem to all be on their way out.

        • Hi Travis,
          I’d recommend you send in your old one and let me take a look at repairing first. If it is anything more than a standard repair, I can send you an RD600-R upgrade module instead. That gives you both options. I’m repairing and returning them in one day, so the turn-around is fast. If you want to forget the repair option all together, that’s fine too, it’s up to you. Look on my store for the RD600 UPGRADE to RD-600-R for more details.
          Cheers,
          Brian

  8. My controller only runs Program A, B, or C, depending on which the switch is set to, but does not run the others on any given day. Landscaping company has verified valves, and program are set correctly.

    • Hi Kathrine, The RainDial timers should run all three, all the time. My best guess is that the programming is messed up in some unexpected way. I’d try doing a factory reset and then reprogram it. That should solve the problem. Some things to try if it doesn’t:
      The only other thing I can think of would be the ABC switch not working correctly ( I replace those occasionally) To find out, do this:
      1) set program to A and press semi-auto and see if it starts. If you put the dial on the first valve that will run, it should show you A:05 and countdown to A:00 as each minute expires. (or something equivalent depending on how much time you’ve programmed). This will tell you if schedule A was running semi-automatically.
      Then turn it off and back on again and repeat with B and C. You can put the switch on B and do something similar and then repeat with C. The goal is to see A:, B: and C: appear on the LCD. If that happens, you’ll know that the ABC selector switch is working properly.

      Try the factory reset (look on the troubleshooting page) first – let me know if that works for you.
      Thx,
      Brian

  9. My rain dial’s power is disconnected somehow and can’t figure out how to fix it. If I push the unit in a bit, it will come on but then goes out again. Help! Thank you

    • Hi Olivia,

      That’s a common problem. When you send it in for repair, I fix that as well as replacing other components that often fail. This makes sure that you won’t have that problem, or the other common problem that occurs. The circuitry will actually be better than new. I’ll drop you a quick email with details. Until you get it, you can read the page on “how to get it repaired”.

      Thanks for posting,
      Brian

  10. We have a Rain Dial RD600 that was put in new in 2013. A few months ago we replaced all four valves that had been installed in 2013).
    Lately we’ve noticed some plants having issues. Today we discovered valve #2 turns on at the same time as valve #3, when only valve 3 should be turning on. Only the little number 3 is displayed. Today we tried resetting to factory settings as per your instructions but we still have the same problem. The battery is new.
    First question is how long are Rain Dials usually under warranty for and secondly is there anything else we could try or is it just a bad controller.

    • Hi Cindy, thanks for the question.

      I warranty my work for a year, but will still help people out, usually for free if they have any issues with the repair I did (within reason of course). I think the factory warranty is 3 years. (I am not an employee of Irritrol or in any way associated with the company itself that makes RainDial sprinkler timers.) I only do this to help people out and it helps raise a little $ towards my kids college expenses 🙂

      With that said and from your description, I don’t think the controller is at fault this time. I suspect it’s a wiring or valve problem. You can check this by measuring the voltage on the 2nd valve when the 3rd valve is on; I suspect you’ll see that it’s “off” or simply disconnecting the wire to valve #2 when it’s on and not supposed to be on. If so, there is something else going on.

      It’s likely a couple of things:
      1) Valve problem – valves shut off slowly sometimes. Try using the timer to manually turn on valve 2, and the shut it off. see how long it takes to actually turn off. If long, it’s a valve issue.

      2) Wiring problem – some wiring or broken wiring scenarios cause multiple valves to go on. I’d try disconnecting all of them and connect one at a time until you see problems. Check the VC/Common wiring on the valves is in tact at the controller and in the ground valve box.

      If you still want to send it in, I’m happy to test it on my system and repair it, just let me know. However, I’d try the ideas listed above first. Give that a try and see what you find.
      Regards,
      Brian

  11. Hello,

    I have a RD600-EXT-R, I noticed the plants are looking dry so I tried a manual run. The controller like fine, but no water. While trouble shooting I noticed if I pUT pressure on the ribbon cable, water would start flowing. Does the board need replacing?

    • Hi Rob, thanks for posting. Yes the backboard needs repairing. If it’s having that problem, it’s probably worth having the controller checked too. I’m happy to do both. iif you’re interested, just drop me an email using the contact form.

      Thanks
      Brian

    • Hi Brandon, Thanks for asking. If you can tell me what happens when the program tries to run, that would be helpful. e.g., watch the LCD when the program is supposed to start and tell me what you see.
      Normally what you describe isn’t a problem with the timer, but with the programming. I’d suggest you do a factory reset – look on the DIY troubleshooting page for instructions. Note that the default will be every station for every day for 10min at 7am, so you’ll have to turn off what you don’t want in the defaults.

      Let me know if that helps, or what you find.
      thx,
      brian

      • I set everyday as on , start time to start with in 5min of me finishing programming, both programs b&c off, each station to run for 1min, turned the skip days off, set the current time, and when the time comes to start there is no numeral indicator show which station comes on and the sprinklers will not come on, but I can push the semi auto button and it runs and sprinklers work and it indicates which valve is open, i can also run it manually through each valve, although the customer had problems running it manually but when I showed up it made him a liar.

        • First of all, is this an Irritrol RD-600 or RD-600-R or other -R model, or a Hardie model?
          Other thoughts. Your programming sounds OK, but do this:
          1) First, follow the reset steps on the DIY page. Watchout for that AM/PM difference in the start time and Time Of Day – the A vs. P is difficult to discern and would explain the behavior you’re seeing.
          2) Try just one start time first, set all other start times to OFF.
          3) Make sure all valves you’re not using have 0 minutes (e.g. OFF). They can get reset and be 10min when you don’t expect it.
          4) Try disconnecting the valve wires for valve number 1 and see if you get the “1” in the display when it’s on. This will help determine if it’s a valve problem.
          5) If the timer still does not work, it’s just send it in. The turn around is same or next day right now. I’ll send you a separate email

  12. Hello,
    I Have a RD-600-R, all the programming / timing / running works great across all zones. What doesn’t work consistently across all zones is the ability to run semi-auto, run the test feature or run manual operations. This was not always the case.

    I’ve tried all 3 scenarios several times, I’ve done a full factory reset, replaced the battery, flipped the breaker, fuse looks good and it still behaves the same… Is this a known issue, or do you have any thoughts? Currently growing a new lawn and this is become a major issue.

    • Hi Gibran,

      Thanks for the question. It sounds like you’ve done a good job trying to troubleshoot the problem so far. Unfortunately, the problem you describe sounds like the common problem I frequently repair. It will be very inconsistent and even work differently depending on the temperature. I’ll drop you an email with repair details. Thanks for posting.
      Brian

  13. Rain Dial-R

    I have a problem setting it manually.
    Little numbers like a 12 shows on the screen. I have cleared the system twice, yet when I go to operate it. an M shows up and a number on the upper left side of the display and it will not operate.

    • Hi Rick,
      The M:## is a good thing. M is for manual, ## is the number of minutes remaining before it turns off, and the numbers in the top of the screen indicate the number of the valve(s) that you turned on. If the valves don’t turn on when you see M:.. on the screen, it means there is something wrong with the system. I’ll send you an email with some other suggestions and repair info. You might also want to watch the programming video in the DIY Troubleshooting tab – see the programming menu.

      I hope that helps,
      Brian

  14. My neighbor has an Hardie RD-600 that recently only valve “A” turns on in manual mode. Valve “B” doesn’t. Using a volt meter across the “1” terminal and the common I see approximately 25 volts (when the A valve is activated) but I see only about 0.5V between “2” and common (when the B valve is activated). I tried using valve “C” (which my neighbor doesn’t have anything hooked up to) and it didn’t read anything significant between “3” and common either.

    Is this a controller problem or possibly a terminal board issue?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Eric, Thanks for the question. A few clarifications – The schedules are A,B and C, they all can be programmed to run simultaneously (provided the scheduled times don’t overlap).
      Valves are numbered 1-6. There’s a link to a programming video on my website under Programming info; I didn’t create it, but it’s well done and worth taking a look at.

      When you “try” to turn on a valve, look for the valve number to appear on the top of the screen. If it does, you “should” see voltage on the corresponding wires. If the number shows up with no voltage, you might have a terminal board problem, but it’s not a 100% full proof test. Keep me in mind if you’d like to have me repair it.

      Brian

      • Ah thanks!! I didn’t understand the relationship between the schedules and the valves. I’ll definately see if its a programming issue first.

  15. My Rain Drop has a problem. The symptom is that it can not change the station. I have 3 stations on front and backyard – total is 6 I believe. Whan I tried the manual mode, any station number (1..7) turns on only one location in the backyard. This is happened when I select A program. I select C program, then any station number turns on only one location of the front yard. Please let me know it is fixable or not.

    • Hi Takishi,

      That is strange behavior. When you turn on a valve, what number do you see on the very top of the LCD display. It’s a small number that should match the valve you’re trying to turn on. If you see the same number every time, it’s a problem with the controller. If you see a different number, it’s likely a wiring problem.
      If you’d like me to repair it, just fill out the info on the Contact-Us page.
      Thanks,
      Brian

  16. I get power to the Red and Yellow wires and the fuse is testing good. But I get no power to the screen. Ribbon wire looks good and all the pins are straight when I plug it back in. Is the another way to test the screen? If the controller/screen is bad can it be replaced? RD-600

    • Hi Dan,
      Thanks for the question. The problem you’re describing is a classic symptom that I repair often. I’d suggest just dropping it in the mail or dropping it by if you are in the neighborhood. Here are some more troubleshooting ideas/comments:
      I do have replacement LCD screens as well if you need them, but I don’t think that’s the real problem. You can probably prove the LCD is OK by putting in a fresh 9V battery – that’ll make things look like they should work, but the valves may not. The problem is often intermittent, so it may even start working; but watch it carefully.
      One last thing to try is to do a full reset – go to the search window at the top of this page and enter reset or factory reset; you’ll see a post on how to do that.

      Let me know if that helps,
      Good luck,
      Brian

  17. i have a RD-600. I can’t seem to get it to turn on or off, but yet there is a display….at the top, verticle dashes and then 1112. i noticed the lawn was starting to look dry. i know there has been some electrical work done at the house, but don’t know how to reboot the timer, if that is a choice.

    how can i tell if it is a fuse that is needed? or anything else?

    i’m a widow that doesn’t know how to do very much. can i remove the box myself?

    • Hi Joy, Thanks for the question. I think resetting it would be a good start. Follow the procedure on this page: http://raindialdoctor.com/home/diy-troubleshooting/
      Look for item “D.” Be sure to try the simple reset first; if it works, you won’t have to reprogram everything. The default program is for schedule A to be every station, every day, 7AM for 10 minutes. If it goes to that default, make sure to program the settings back to what you want.

      Let me know if it works by replying to this post.
      Thanks, and good luck,
      Brian

      P.S., If you find that you need to remove it, don’t worry, I have a video that shows you how; it’s pretty easy. If the Fuse is bad, the display usually shows “FUS”.

      • The solution was easier than I expected. The 9v battery needed to be replaced. Once I did that, everything came on. I needed to reprogram the time, days of operation and interval. Everything works now. Thank you.

  18. I think i will change the wires and if it still doesn’t work then i will replace back interconnect board or transformer. Maybe the transformer voltage is too low.
    Anyway thank you so much for helping.

    Kiet

  19. My sprinkler does not work so I checked the voltage on 24VAC on the screw terminals in the back of the controller box and i get about 7.5V. So what can I do for my Irritrol Rain Dial RD-600?

    • 7.5v seems strange, usually you’ll get nothing or 20-simething. I’d double check your meter is in AC mode and not on DC. make sure to measure the terminals with the thick red and yellow wires. if u take out the battery and it still shows an lcd display, its likely that the transformer is.good. let me know what u find an I’ll offer more ideas.
      brian

      • Yes I checked on AC with the thick red and yellow wires and when i took out the battery it still shows LCD display.
        Thanks

        • Hi Kiet,

          From what you’re describing, the voltage is low, but the timer still powers. Try doing the steps on this link If the valves operate, there must be something wrong with the meter, or measurement method.

          More importantly, what is the timer doing or not doing that made you suspect the voltage was wrong? Maybe knowing the original symptoms will help me know better what’s going on.

          Let me know,
          Brian

          • yes i followed the link.
            First, unplug the timer’s ribbon then connect the valve wire directly to the right-most 24VAC screw and it didn’t work.
            Second, i connected the valve wire and the common wire to the 24VAC terminals and still doesn’t work.
            Third, I used my extra solenoid to connect to the 24AVC terminals and it works on the solenoid. So is the transformer still good?

            Kiet

            • Hi Kiet,

              If it will drive a solenoid, then the transformer seem like it should be good. The data we have collected so far seems to be a little contradictory so why don’t you fill out the contact form and include a phone number and a few times when I can give you a call while you’re in front of the controller with your test meter and we can talk about other ways to debug the problem.

              Brian

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