Sprinklers Do Not Come On When They Should

This is the primary troubleshooting page for the Irritrol RainDial RD-600, RD 900, RD1200 Irrigation timer when valves don’t come on.

If the water is not coming on when it should, the problem typically resides these areas:

  • Faulty timer
  • Water availability
  • Power Input Problems
  • Valve/Solenoid Problems

To determine what is causing the problem, follow these steps:

First thing: Remove the battery and see if the timer still displays something.  (You’ll likely lose your programming so write it down first).  Seeing something on the display tells us that the AC, power, breakers, fuses and transformer are working. If you do not see anything on the display, performed checks C, D, F, and G first; they are indicated by(display is blank with no battery) in the title.

A. Do some basic checks by using the timer to manually turn on a valve:

This is a key step in determining if the timer needs to be repaired: Follow the steps to manually turn on a station using this link to manually turn on a stationSee here to understand if the timer is indicating the valve is on.

If the timer does not indicate it turned on a valve or flashes off, send it in for repair.

If the Irritrol controller does indicate it turned on the valve, but the valve does not turn on, there are several possible reasons.  Try turning on a different valve.   If the problem only happens with one valve and not the others, try swapping the terminal wires between the non-working valve and the working valve.

  • If the suspected ‘bad’ valve works when moved to a different screw terminal, it’s a timer/backboard problem that we can repair.
  • If the suspected bad valve is still bad when on a different terminal location, then you have a bad valve or solenoid (Look at section E below for help).

If you have a -R model, it’s often a timer/backboard problem that can be repaired.  Check some of the following first, then send it in for repair.

If the timer works with the manual function but not with a schedule, perform a factory reset and check the programming.

B. Check: Did someone turn the water off :-)

C. Check: Electrical Input Issues:(display is blank with no battery)

D. Check: The Transformer: (display is blank with no battery)

E. Check wires and solenoid:

F. Perform a factory reset:(display is blank with no battery)

  • In some cases performing a factory reset can help. See the DIY page for more information.

G. Send it in for repair:

  • Otherwise, the controller/system has simply failed and should be sent in for repair.

H. If this site was helpful, please, please leave us a donation, it’s the appropriate thing to do, and we need it to keep the site going.

Please feel free to contact us using the contact form; or email us at RainDialDoctor@gmail.com; we can provide additional help and answer questions that you have; we’re happy to help.

All material copyright Brian Keller, aka the RainDial Doctor

81 thoughts on “Sprinklers Do Not Come On When They Should

  1. I have a station that will not come on. I can manually open the valve and it works, I can move the wire to another station and it works. I had this trouble when I first bought my home 9 years ago and paid the local sprinkler company to spend 2 minutes to tell me that the valve was shut off on the program board. I can not remember or figure out how to turn this station back on and really don’t want to pay $100 for a 2 minute service call. Any suggestions?

    • I completely understand, I’m happy to help. I’ll send you a separate email with some details.

  2. I have the rd900. I keep trying to manually start zones 1,2 work fine then 3 and 4 will not start. When I try to reset zone 3 again it starts zone one. Any help would be greatly appreciated

    • Hi Joe,

      I’d suggest doing a factory reset first and seeif that resolves it. If not, let me know and I’ll provide additional info. We’ll get it figured out.
      p.s, you can find hte rd600 reset info on the DIY Troubleshooting page.

  3. RD 600 – It’s not sending a signal to turn on the water. We replaced the solenoid and can turn the water on Manually. Did a factory reset, new battery. the clock has the correct time and you can set up a program. Not sure what else the check.

    • Hi Sharon,

      Sorry for the delay – was a busy weekend for us.
      Quick question: When you try to turn it on manually by selecting a station, adding some minutes, and pressing the ‘manual on’ button, does the timer just flash and go to off?

      Let me know what it does and I can assist further.

  4. When it’s cold outside, all of my solenoids only click and release a small amount of water. This happens during a program or turning them on manually. When its warm outside, they all work normally. Any suggestions? I have an RD 600

    • That’s a classic symptom of a problem with the timer that I can repair. See the menu above for how to get it repaired.

      Thanks for posting

  5. Have a irritrol 600-ext. When system is supposed to turn on solenoid starts clicking, it releases only a small amount of water in a pulsating manner and my water pipes develop water hammer. If I open the solenoid value water hammer stops. Any suggestions.

    • Hi Steve,

      that’s a classic symptom of the problem I repair. It’s a solid repair with a warranty; see the ‘how to get it repiared’ menu item above for all the details.

      Thanks for posting,

  6. I have a model RD900-EXT. When operating manually the solenoids click but will not actuate the valve. It is the same for all not just one. Is it possible there is a problem with the 24v transformer? Is there a way to access the transformer?
    Thank you

    • Hi Joe,

      That clicking issue is something that I repair often. It’s not related to the transformer, but if you still want to know about how to remove it, let me know.

      I’ll send you a separate email on the repair process; I warranty it the same as a new one and have found the older models to be better quality than new ones. If you have any other questions, just let me know.


    • Hi Jan,

      They sell them at places like Ewing and Sprinkler World. If you’d like a refurbished one, let me know.

  7. Manual operation the sprinklers come on . When programming automatic operation the sprinklers do not come on.

    • Hi Robert,

      It sounds like there may be a programming error. I would recommend resetting the controller to factory defaults and then re-programming it. Click the DIY Troubleshooting tab and then scroll down to item AF for instructions on how to complete a reset.

      Let us know if it still isn’t working after that. Thank you,

      Meghan – RainDial Doctor in Training

  8. When I attempt to turn on the sprinklers by program or by the middle switch to run then the start switch on the left, the sprinklers do not turn on. I have replaced the diaphragms and the solenoids. Not sure what to do, I have a RD – 900 -R

    • Hi David,

      Things to check:
      1) if you remove the battery, does the display still show something?
      2) when you turn on a station, do you see the little station number appear in the top row?

      Let me know and we can troubleshoot further.

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