DIY Troubleshooting

For over 10 years we’ve been helping people solve their sprinkler timer issues.   

Scroll down to see the many DIY troubleshooting topics below

  1. Go through DIY list below.
  2. Contact us about repair/replacement options or
  3. Post questions if you have them. You’ll get a response within a day or two at the most.

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.

Manuals and User Guides for RainDial RD-600, 900, 1200 PROGRAMMING HELP and manuals, click here

Use the following topics to solve your Rain Dial RD600 series problems

  • Get smart – learn the terminology
  • Get user manuals
  • Choose the best problem description
    • Timer Behavior problems
    • Display error messages
  • See the “How Do I” … and troubleshooting topics

Get smart – learn the terminology and concepts from the “What is a” topics: Irritrol Rain Dial Timers

  1. Learn the terminology – what is the back terminal board, timer, transformer 
  2. What are valve boxes, valves, and solenoids?
  3. How is a Typical Sprinkler System Wired?  See this Valve Wiring Diagram?

Official Manuals, User manuals, programming information etc :

  1. Programming guide and template worksheets: click here
  2. Manuals and user guides: click here

Behavior Problems: RD-600/900/1200 :

  1. Rain Dial Sprinkler/irrigation valves chatter or buzz or water pressure seems low.
  2. Valves do not come on when they’re supposed to (a good page to start with)
  3. Valves stuck onwon’t turn off or more than one is on.
  4. Time is frozen or cannot change the time
  5. The case door won’t open or you lost your key 
  6. The case door breaks off or comes apart
  7. One station does not shut off before the next station starts
  8. Voltage measurements don’t make sense

Display Error Messages for the Irritrol RD600, RD900, RD1200 Irrigation Timers:

  1. Display shows OFF or blinks when turning on a valve manually
  2. Display is Blank.
  3. Display says FUS or FU5 and a number
  4. Display shows 5En or SEn
  5. Display shows OF1 or OF… some number
  6. Display shows P:On or P:Off
  7. Display is blinking – see the earlier topic
  8. Display shows “—-“ for days of the week – refer to skip days

Programming Information for Irritrol RD600, RD900, RD1200 Irrigation Timers:

  1. Programming tutorial for RD-600/900/1200
  2. Programming worksheet for RD600/900/1200
  3. Understanding the Skip Days Feature

How do I …” sprinkler timer-related topics

    1. How do I turn on a valve using the manual button?
    2. How do I program the timer to irrigate a newly seeded or overseeded lawn?
    3. How to reset the RainDial controller and set it to factory defaults
    4. How do I water while my timer is being repaired (Manually watering without using a timer)
    5. How to check the fuse (also see FUS topic above)?
    6. How to test the transformer to know if the transformer is bad?
    7. How to test if the valves or solenoids are bad?
    8. Rain Sensor information for Irritrol RD600 and other timers.
    9. How do I replace the dial?
    10. How do I replace the Solenoid?
    11. How do I replace the valve guts for a leaky or stuck valve?

RainDial Plus Model (Different than the regular RainDial timers)

Video of common symptoms that indicate the Rain Dial Controller needs repairing.

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

RD600 Repair

Irritrol Rain Dial RD600 repair services

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?


425 thoughts on “DIY Troubleshooting

  1. I have a RD 900 which I programmed to come on at Next day at 10am it comes on again. When I check time it shows10pm. If I do not
    turn it on the time shown will be correct. ex 10pm in the evening and 10am next day.

    • Hi Ken,

      It’s likely that there’s some programming that you’re not expecting. Check the other schedules (B and C) to make sure there’s nothing there. The other thing you can do is wait till it’s on when it shouldn’t be and put the dial on the valve that is incorrectly turned on. The display will show you which schedule is running; e.g. B 12 would mean schedule B is running and there are 12 minutes left.

      If all else fails, follow the reset instructions on the diy troubleshooting page and that should get you going.

      I hope that helps. If it does, please consider leaving us a donation.

  2. I have a Irritrol Rain Dial – R irrigation system controller installed in late 2016. I have an odd problem and am wondering if you might have a guess as to what is wrong.

    For about the past week, early in the morning (around 6:15) when I get up I see miscellaneous water spots (not puddles or standing water – just water splotches) in my stone area of both my front and back landscape. I did these “tests” and always see an assortment of splotches:

    1. Program switch set to Run or Manual, but particular day is OFF.
    2. Program switch set to Run or Manual, particular day is ON but time for Program to start is later in the morning (around 7:15).
    3. Program switch set to Off or Stop. (The splotches are fewer in number when I did this test but that may just be a coincidence.)

    Someone suggested I do a test with the controller “unplugged.” I have not done that yet. Is that a good idea?

    Thanks for any insight regarding my mystery!

    • Hi Dolores,

      I’m not sure exactly what you mean by splotches; are they just splashes of water, or is it seeping up from underground?
      If splashes, it could just be when the drip system starts, sometimes the emitters ‘spit’ as it’s pushing air out of the lines.

      Have someone turn them on while you are standing in the splash zone to see if that’s the problem or not. you’ll have to wait a while for the lines to drain out a bit. If you water every other day, just go out there one minute before the start time is supposed to occur and see what you can see.

      Post back and let me know what you find out. If that’s not it, give me a little more detail on the splotches.


      • Thank you Brian! I believe the water is seeping up through the ground. It is definitely not the emitters starting and “spitting” as where I am seeing the wet spots there are no emitters. Besides that, I am seeing it when the system should NOT be running given the details I state for my 3 test cases.

        • Hi Dolores,

          Well, this is a fun mystery 🙂
          instead of unplugging, you can probably just slide the timer switch to the off position. That way you don’t have to worry about messing up the time or anything else. It should accomplish the same thing as unplugging it; although that’s certainly a more guaranteed way to know if the timer is doing something or not.

          If you can, send me a photo of the splotches to I’ll take a look and see if there’s anything else I can think of.

          Also, how much water is in the splotches. e.g., is it making a pretty wet spot; can you dig into it to see how deep the water is under ground?

          thanks, it’ll be fun to figure this one out.

  3. Hello Brian

    I have a irritrol RD-600-r timer and it’s not advancing through the zones. Thought it could be a valve stuck open, but I don’t think that’s the case. In the manual mode it will work, but we
    hen I put it in the semi-auto mode it won’t go through the stations? I start with zone 1 through 12. So then I thought I had a bad zone ,so I shut off zone 1 and started with 2 and it will not advance?
    any suggestions? New timer? Thanks for you help

    • I don’t think that’s a timer issue, more likely there is some programming set that you’re not expecting. I would walk through all the settings and double check everything. If that doesn’t help, follow the instructions on the do it yourself yourself troubleshooting page to do a factory reset. That should get it going.

      If not, let me know.

  4. The current day is incorrect. I have the set program tab correct, turn the dial to current day, hit the +/- buttons but it does not change to the correct day. Any ideas?

      1. I’d try powering it down and disconnecting the battery; then try again.
        If no luck, it could be the switch is stuck in the off position. Try pressing the semi auto button and see if you can get it to turn on; that’ll tell us if the switch is stuck in teh off position, which would prevent it from turning on.

        Let me know,

      • I tried this and the current day will not change to the correct day. I can turn the dial to change all the other features and it works fine. Just not the current day feature. Also had a power failure on another controller and when I went to reset the correct time, it showed p.m. the whole time. It never changed to a.m.

  5. I have the RD 1220 R, I turned it on at the controller manually in order to check the emitters. When I found one that was clogged I tried to turn it off by moving the switch to stop as I always do, but it did not close the valve to stop the flow. There was time remaining on the cycle, but that never affected it before. I closed it by hand and that did not stop the flow,either. Finally with the valve closed by hand I heard the slight closure of the valve and the flow stopped.

    • Hi Marc,
      When you slide the switch to off, there should be nothing on the top row of the display where you would normally see the station number shown for the valve that was on If you don’t see any numbers, 99.999 percent of the time you can be assured that the timer is not turning on the valve. Thus, if water is still flowing, you likely have a valve problem. Look at the DIY page for guidance on how to fix the valve.

      Let me know how it goes and what you find out.

  6. Hi Brian.
    You commented on my post on Feb. 5th . I have the irritrol rd 1200 ext-r controller.
    I have been out of town and unable to remove to send you the board and clock. I am home now and would like to mail to you if you would have time to take a look at it .
    I have the mailing instructions and know what to send. Please let me know if you have time.
    Thank you,

    Doug Wilhelmi

    • Hi Doug,

      Yes, I have time, thanks for sending it. I’ll have it back in the mail, probably the day after I receive it.


  7. Model rd600 ext – I did the reset, I would work via the Manual button, but not on the timer. Did the reset and the system seemed to come back to ‘normal, scheduled to run on Sunday. . . I’ve had the unit shut off since it rained last week (Sun City) . Today, Saturday, my neighbor thought he saw water in a front bed ( valve 1) . And It looked damp but the system switch is on the far left, OFF! Is this Possible? if so, is this Not Good? double plus UnGood?
    How to test if it’s possessed?

    • Hi Tom,

      I think we talked through the issue on the phone already. If you still have questions; post back here.


  8. I have an rd 900 r, does not work on manual or timed. I was able to make station 2 come on by using a wire to short #2 to 24 vac. I am guessing the controller needs to be repaired. Do you have any other suggestions. Tanks

    • Hi James,

      It sounds like you’ve done a good job troubleshooting. I would send it in for repair; I’ll drop you an email with the details.


  9. My timer (Toatal Control 6-station) Irrotrol displays SHORT on every station. It will not work in manually either. Any ideas about where to go next? I cannot find anything on this issue.

    • Hi Mike,

      If you have a master or pump valve, it would be turned on when any valve is running. I’d check that for problem or a shorted relay if you have it. If not, then I could take a look if you’d like to send it in or drop it by. I have had trouble preparing that problem in the past though. There’s no repair charge if I can’t repair it though, so you don’t have much to lose.

      Let me know,

  10. Good day

    I have 5 Solenoids that i want to connect to the controller.There is 2 main cables to the solenoids,The cables have the white,black and then the earth cable inside.
    I will be the best way to connect this cables?

  11. Thanks for the information. Very helpful and very much appreciated.
    I replaced #4 solenoid but did not know how to clear the code until I read your instructions. I measured the resistance on the old solenoid at 12 ohms and the new one at 53 ohms. Indicating the new solenoid had a short in the winding.

    • Hi Douglas,

      Thanks so much for letting me know. Sometimes I wonder if the effort I put into the website is worth it, so I appreciate hearing from people.


  12. Hi,
    I have a friend that has an rd900-int-r timer. I get a message when scrolling through to check watering times, etc. It says P:On. I see where you said it was for a pump. It is in a residential system in San Antonio TX. Is there a chance that there is a pump? I tried to get some of the stations to manually water to check them but, I kept getting that message and they would not physically water. Any ideas?

    Thank you!

    Jimmy Spalten

    • Hi James,

      whether or not the pump feature is on or off, won’t matter if there is no pump. If you have a pump, it would matter, if not, it wouldn’t do anything. Look at the back terminal board for the MV/Pump terminal and see if there’s a wire connected to it. If not, then it doesn’t matter. If you do see a wire, see the instructions for setting P:On for all the valves here:

      Let me know whether or not you have a pump wire or not.


  13. brian, you really helped me out in 2018.
    thank you..

    i have a 900
    everything works perfectly except zone 2.
    It doesnt energize the whole time its suppose to be on.
    but everything else cycles great.
    when i stick it under zone 1, it comes on and works fine..

    can you help?

    • Hi Lynn,

      Thanks for remembering us. Typically when only one zone is having trouble, it’s a valve issue and not a timer problem. I have some questions before we determine what the problem is. When you try to turn on zone 2, does the timer switch to off? Does the display indicate it is working? Let me know. I’ll send you an email so we can troubleshoot more easily.

      Brian – RD900 RainDial Doctor

  14. I have an Irritrol RD-900 from about 2008. It seems operational on the timer and I can manually turn on sprinklers at the sprinkler head, but cannot get the sprinklers to turn on with the Irritrol timer device, even tried manual mode. Any tips?

  15. Hi! I have a Irritrol RD600-EXT timer for my sprinkler system and I believe it’s from 2007. About a year and a half ago I was not able to change the current day (Tue., etc) anymore when the dial was set to “today” and then selecting +|- to change the day. I have checked all the programming areas to make sure there’s nothing abnormal in all my programming and I don’t see that there is since I’ve had pretty much the same schedule for the last 10 years. Is there a fuse or a battery inside that I need to replace? thank you so much for any help! Blue

    • Hi Blue,

      Try fiddling with the dial and switches – sometimes the “Set Programs” switch may be in the middle position, but gets “stuck” on the off or run spot. Often times just wiggling them a bit may help. If that does not help, go ahead and try a factory reset. You can find instructions here on our website if you need them.

      Let me know if that helps,

      Meghan – RainDial Doctor in Training

    • Hi Mike,

      That is an unusual problem. I would recommend trying a factory reset (search our website for detailed instructions). If that doesn’t help, try pushing around the display to see if it changes. If the display returns, it may just need to be taken apart and put back together again to re-seat the display. Let me know if you have any luck.

      Meghan – RainDial Doctor in Training

  16. Irrotrol12 . After setting,timer, stations 1&2 comes on and then nothing. Can I jump from master to #4 and etc to verify that rest of system is ok and my timer is bad . t

    • Hi Bob,

      I sent you a separate email with information… If you don’t get it, let me know.

  17. I have a Rain Dial -R
    My system runs great but it runs every day. I went through and made sure program A is running and cleared B and C to show nothing. I made sure the days I want show Off but they still come on? I put a new battery in too. Everything else works just fine. Oh the skip days is off too. I can figure why it turns on every night?

    • Hi James,
      I’d suggest following the DIY Troubleshooting section for how to reset the timer back to factory defaults. That should solve your problem. If it doesn’t, look at the display when the water is running when it shouldn’t be. When the dial is set to the station that is currently on, it will tell you the schedule that is running, followed by the remaining minutes. E.g., A:15.
      This will tell you what schedule is currently activating the station and you can then go look at that schedule in more detail to see what may be programmed in a way you don’t expect.

      Let me know what you find out and I can help further.

  18. I have a Rain Dial six station RD-600-EXT-R Serial number 221705
    The current time keeps to different times. I have to keep resetting everything as the times won’t hold. I changed the battery. Please advise. Thank you.

    • Hi Rick,

      I’m happy to help. Quick question:
      Does the time of day change unexpectedly even when you put in a fresh 9V battery, or did the new battery seem to keep the time correctly?


        • Hi Rick,
          I’m glad things are working for you now, but keep a close eye on it. If the battery seems to die quicker than normal, it’s a symptom of a failing timer that I can help you with. Eventually even a new battery won’t be able to make it keep going so my best guess is that you’re living on borrowed time and it’ll probably fail rate before you’re planning to go on a long vacation 🙂

          Keep us in mind, will be here when you need it.

          • Hi Brian – I think i’m in the situation you feared Rick would find himself in: even though I’ve installed a new battery, our Rain Dial can’t hold the current time. Is there any way to fix?

  19. Hi, Brian!
    I have an RD 1200 Rain dial controller. I’ve written to you before and have not yet received an answer to this problem: The controller left one of my valves open that caused flooding behind a retaining wall that almost brought it down. I thought it might be a leaking water pipe, but that was not the case. I turned off the valve with the controller. That stopped the water. Following that event, the timer which has always been set for Monday Wednesday and Friday, suddenly turned on a Tuesday and began watering. I shut it off and checked the transformer (which is fine,) and believe there is something wrong with the timer itself. Incidentally, the fuse looks fine and I’m going to change the battery for the first time in the thirty years I have had this magnificent timer. I don’t know if the battery has anything to do with the performance, but why take a chance. I will gladly send you the timer and white board behind it if you think that should be done. Okay?

    Best wishes,

    • Hi Phil,

      I just sent you a followup email. Let me know if you did not receive it. Thank you!

      Meghan – RainDial Doctor in Training

  20. Serial number 193360 my Raindial nine station 900 EXT the current time keeps turning off and changes to different numbers, I have to keep resetting, watering times blink to random numbers and won’t hold. Do you repair or do I have to spend $ 300+ for a new one
    PS it faces direct Sun..
    Thanks mason

    • Hi Mason,

      Thanks for the inquiry, I appreciate it. Yes, that sounds like an issue we typically repair. I will send you an email with repair instructions. Thank you!

    • Hi Robert,

      That’s usually a problem with the valve reacting to changes in pressure; I’d try replacing the guts/diaphragm, etc… Look on the DIY troubleshooting section for when valves come on when they shouldn’t.
      Let me know if that helps,


  21. Tried to change the clock time to daylight savings on my RD600 and display displayed OF7. Did not intend to turn the system off for 9 days. How do I get it back to showing time? Thank you – Mac

    • Look under the do it yourself troubleshooting pages, there’s an entry that describes that and what to do with it. If for some reason you have questions after reading it, just let me know.

      Thanks for posting,

  22. I have had my Rd 600 for a few years and like it. A little while ago my up arrow on the keypad will not operate in addition I was trying to remove the keypad or timer and I’m having a problem getting their ribbon out and also removing the keypad itself can you help on either of these issues thank you Pete

    • Hi Pete,

      I don’t think the RD600 has an up-arrow, are you sure the model number is the same? If you’d like to send me a photo to, I can probably help you further.

      Thanks for posting,

  23. Hello Brian
    My rain Dial rd600 stop working, i have blank screen. Controller has power. It was working fine but one day it has blank screen. I need advice what can i do.

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