How do I reset my Irritrol controller or reset it to factory defaults

On rare occasions something occurs that causes the processor to lock up.  Sometimes the programming acts strange, or the clock even quits working.  This would most likely happen when during power outages or transients.

The good news is that it rarely occurs and is easily fixed by doing the following, depending on whether you have an older or new model controller.

Follow the steps for either A or B below based on what timer you have.

A) describes what to do for Older timers (If it doesn’t work for you, do B)
B) for Newer timers

A) For older controllers: Perform a complete reset by: (note, this will delete all your programming)

  1. Remove the battery
  2. Pull off the ribbon cable from the back connector board (white or yellow board with all the screw terminals) by holding the gray ribbon cable close to the back terminal board and wiggling it off.  It’s a press-fit connector that should be relatively easy to remove
  3. Wait 3 minutes or so for any residual power to completely drain from the unit.  (Newer controllers do need a lot of time to discharge so it’s worth taking the time)
  4. Plug in the ribbon cable again (it should power up)
  5. Reconnect the battery.
  6. Reprogram the controller.
    Note: The older model sprinkler timers will have default schedule which is something similar to:every day, 7AM, every station for 10 minutes.  Make sure to go through all the station settings when you re-program the controller or your sprinklers may come on when you don’t expect them to.
  7. If this doesn’t work, you may have a timer that has newer internal circuitry but the older case.  Try following the steps below for the newer controllers.

It should start with a blinking 12:00pm and now work as expected; you can now set the time and re-program the schedule.

B) For newer controllers (Typically the -R models), you can restore the factory default settings by doing the following: (note, this will delete all your programming).

  1. Before you do this procedure, you should try doing the basic reset for older controllers first (see above).  It may work, and you won’t lose your program settings.
  2. Set the dial on the current Time.
  3. Place the Function switch in the Set Programs position.
  4. Place the Program switch to select program “B.”
  5. With AC power connected, carefully disconnect the control module ribbon cable from the back PC Board by grabbing the ribbon cable close to the back terminal board and wiggling it till it comes off.
  6. Open the battery compartment and disconnect the battery.
  7. Press and hold the Manual button in and KEEP HOLDING IT IN while performing the next step.
  8. Reconnect the ribbon cable, then release the Manual button. Note: The display should now show 12:00 AM indicating the controller has reset. If it does not, repeat the procedure as necessary.
  9. Reinstall the battery.
  10. Reprogram the controller.

How do I know if it took the reset or not? 

If the reset worked, the Time will say 12:00 and schedule A will have a default schedule of: Start time of 7:00AM, Every day (M-Su), all valve run times set for 10minutes.  If you don’t see this then carefully re-read the steps and try again.

What to do if that doesn’t work

If you reset the  controller and that seems to help, but it still behaves strangely now and then, it probably needs repair.  The sprinkler timers tend to get intermittent before the completely fail.  If you can’t get the reset to work, contact us about a repair.

Contact us – we’ll send you repair details.

Good luck,

(c) This material is copyrighted

164 thoughts on “How do I reset my Irritrol controller or reset it to factory defaults

  1. Hi
    Thanks for the info. Ive run a factory reset and that has worked. Ive now reprogrammed my controller and the screen indicates the station is on but the sprinklers are not working. Can you help me any further with diagnostics or do I need to bring my controller in to be repaired. I am in York Western Australia. Many thanks Jenny

  2. One of my sprinkler stations stays on, even after two factory resets. The only way to shut it off is to pull that flat cable out of the box. What’s the solution?

    • Hi Roger, when it’s on and not supposed to be,does the timer indicate that it is turning on a valve by showing the valve number in the top row of the display?

  3. Hi Doctor,

    I have a RD -900, the Skip Days feature is on and I want to turn it off, but somehow I can’t unset or even change it.
    I turned the dial to Skip Days, it shows 31 on the screen, when I press “+” or “-” button, nothing changes, it still shows 31. Could this be locked by some other settings? or do you think it is a malfunction of the controller? Any suggestions what I should do? Will factory reset help?
    When I run manual testing, all stations ran as expected.


    • Hi Wendy,

      The only thing I can think of is to double check that the programs switch is in the middle position. I don’t believe there would be another setting that would conflict with what you’re trying to do.

      If you don’t find anything with the switch, I would suggest following the instructions on the do it yourself troubleshooting page to do a factory reset. That should clear everything out the default program, and you can change the settings from there.

      Hopefully that helps. If it does, consider leaving us a donation. If not, let me know and we’ll figure out what to try next.

  4. I have a RD-1200, that I’ve been having trouble with and I tried twice the reset methods to no luck. I’m deciding to go with a different brand and wanted to know if you’d like my system parts as a donation?

    • Hi Sadie,

      We would love to use the parts. Thank you so much for thinking of us! I will send you an email with our address.

      Thank you,
      Meghan – Rain Dial Doctor in Training

  5. I have a irritrol rd 1200 ext-r controller and am having problems with turning on any of my 12 sprinkler stations. The solenoid on each valve only chatters. They all open by turning the screw on the valve but they will not open manually by the controller.

    I have tested the ohms from the controller to the valve and seems to be 27 to 34 ohms. But when I tested for 24 volts inside the controller , testing from the common wire to the #1 or any of the valves I only come up with about 5 to 10 volts.

    I am not sure if I need a new controller or what? I have reset the controller back to the factory settings and did not seem to help. Valves just chatter and do not open.
    Any advice would surely help.
    Thank you

  6. Hi, I have the Total Control 18-stations. It has been working fine, but for the past couple of weeks, when I setup one program, it carries over to the other 3 programs. In effect the unit now behaves like it has one program instead of four!
    I tried to unplug power but that didn’t help (usually gets stuck at program D).
    I also tried to Reset the unit based on your instructions but that still didn’t help.
    I need to be able to irrigate using all 4 programs. Any idea how to fix?! Thanks

  7. Hi Brian,

    My timer (RD 600 INT R) appears to be turning on valves daily although I have programed the timer for a different schedule. Seems like I ought to try a reboot when I look at DYI. Please confirm.

    Also, I have checked each valve manually. Only 3 of 4 can be turned on manually.

    • Hi Gerry,

      As you suggested, I’d try the factory reset procedure first (See the DIY Troubleshooting page). If that doesn’t work, let me know and we’ll troubleshoot it from there.

      Question: When you try turning on 1 or 2 manually, you indicated that it doesn’t work. When you attempt this, does the display indicate the valve should be on (shows the valve number in the top row of the display)?


      • Thanks for repointing so quickly Brian,

        I’ll try the reset procedure.

        On your question. The (4) valve numbers display correct when I turn each on manually and water flows correctly for the time selected, except for valve #3). # 3 displays but nothing happens.

        • Hi Brian,

          I was able to reset the timer, set Current Time , but Setting Current Day does not display SUN, etc. Rather 01 is displayed and I am unable to move beyond that step with+/- buttons.

          • Your RD-600 timer is probably set in ‘skip days mode’. type in ‘skip’ into the search box at the top of the page and look at the articles it returns.

            • Hi Brian
              I was able to reset the controller using
              B) For newer controllers so “skip” is not longer am issue.

              I am still unable to initiate a manual start (from the controller) of one of my four valve. The Valve #3 displays but there is no action.

              Please advise

              • Hi Gary,

                Check the DIY Troubleshooting section for the behavior problem that’s something like ‘valves don’t turn on when they’re supposed to’ Then look into the valve/solenoid related topic. It will give you several options. My ‘guess’ is that it’s a bad solenoid. try swapping wires for valve 3 and 4 to see if the valve still fails when on #4’s terminal. If it does, then the valve/solenoid is likely an issue. If it doesn’t, then it may be a timer and backboard issue that we can repair.

                Let me know what you find out and we’ll go from there.

                If we’ve been helpful, please leave us a donation; it goes to a good cause and we’d greatly appreciate it.

  8. I have the Irritrol RD 1200-INT-R
    I only need to reset the timer to water only 1 day a week, 2x day for 7 minutes each station. Please advise how to reset it
    Thank you

    • Hi Ruth,

      Put the bottom switch on set-programs and move the dial around, setting each item as you need it. There’s a log of programming information and tutorials on the DIY Troubleshooting page along with a video link. If you look at those and still have questions, just let me know.


      • “DIY Troubleshooting page” appears to be a dead link.

        I am on an RD-900-R.

        My difficulty is that “Today” seems to be stuck on “MO”, for “Monday”. It doesn’t want to allow me to change “Today” to “Friday”. “Skip Days” is “OFF”.

        What am I overlooking?

        • That usually happens when you make the changes and the switch is not set in the set programs position. Double check that it’s seated in the middle of the switch and let me know if that works.


        • That usually happens when you make the changes and the switch is not set in the set programs position. Double check that it’s seated in the middle of the switch and let me know if that works.


  9. just a FYI My RD1200 would not cycle after the winter months so I used the reset and now it is working the way it should. Thanks for posting the help

    • Hi Ron,
      That’s great news, I’m glad we were able to help. If we helped, please consider making a donation. It goes to a good cause, and also helps fund the website information.


  10. We had a new RD600 installed in December of 2021. It has been working fine. I went out to change the schedule and there was no display. There was not a 9V battery in it. I installed a 9V but no display. We did the suggested resets, pulling the ribbon cable and battery and reconnecting still nothing. What now?

    • Hi Susan,

      Take a look at the DIY troubleshooting page. Look at a couple sections The first one is about what to do if the display is blank, the 2nd one is on how to test the transformer.

      Let me know if you’re able to so all or some of those things mentioned and we’ll go from there.

  11. have a RD-900-R…has power….shows time….shows different sections on….10 min then moves to the next station…no water…nothing….tried manually…nothing……
    checked the water source ….all on…..checked both relief valves…..water comes out both……

    • Hi Donald,

      That’s a classic symptom of a timer that needs repair. I’ll send you a separate email on the repair process, but you can also click to it from the main menu above.
      Thanks for posting,

  12. Have controller TC-18EX-R , ser.#101598 . Programs had not been adjusted for some time (months). System came on but would not switch stations or shut off when switched to off. Tried both A and B resets, time came back as 12:00 on both (Not flashing) all station times remained as previously set. The only way to shut off is with manual water valve. With colder weather coming system will need to be drained so I need to get this resolved soon. Am thinking my controller is shot unless you have different ideas ???

    • If you turn off the power to the timer, does the water stay on? If so, the timer is not the problem.

      Make sure your valves are all in the off position at the valve. Let me know more info and I can help more


  13. No display. Completely blank. Power to the wall. Power at the transformer. Fuse is okay. With or without a battery, there should at least be a display when it’s plugged in.

    • Hi Josh,

      Yes, there should be a display. I’d suggest you followin the DIY page for instructions on how to reset the timer. If that doesn’t work, send it in following the ‘how to get it repaired’ page. If it does work, please consider making a donation, we’d really appreciate it 🙂


  14. How do I know if I need to send in the back board in addition to the timer? I do t want to remove all the wiring if I do t have to. I’m getting g power to the board but there’s no power going to the stations. Intermittently it worked but as of now it’s completely failing to open any of the 10 stations.

    • Hi Fred,

      Based on your description, you need to send both parts. That way you’re guaranteed everything will be like new. Take a photo of everything before you loosen the wire and make sure the 24V is off, or put tape on those wires individually to make sure they don’t touch anything or each other.

      You might consider sliding a long piece of tape it behind all the wires and then put another piece of tape on top of the wires, sandwiching the wires between teh two long pieces of tape. This will keep them in order as you remove them and make it easier to put back…

      If you have any more question, let me know.

  15. My timer seems to be working fine other than the display shows blank whenever I have the dial on anything other than the station run time. Any ideas on how to troubleshoot this LED display issue?

      • See my other replay as well. Now that I think about it, it’s likely a standard issue that I repair. I’d send in the timer and backboard for repair. Let me know what you decide to do.


    • Hi Joel,

      That’s an odd problem. I’d expect to see other problems besides just the display. You can send it in and I’ll refurbish several things and take care of the display issue if you’d like. Otherwise you could try taking it apart and looking for loose screws or something. Since it works with the dial in a particular position, that could be it.

      Let me know what you find,

  16. When I turn on our Raindial manually (which is what I have always done) now the sprinklers come on for about 3 seconds & shut off. The display was blank so I replaced the battery..display came back on but still the same problem.

    • Hi Cari,

      If you can get the sprinklers to come on even a second or two, we know the transformer is working. Putting in a fresh battery can sometimes make a failing timer work for a while, but the battery will drain quickly, and eventually, a new battery won’t make it work.

      Based on your description (which matches most timer failures I see), the timer is starting to fail and I think it’s time to send it in for repair. Everything you need to know should be on the page in the menu above that says something like “how to get it repaired”. If you have any other questions, just post back here, or send an email to

      Thanks for posting,

  17. I have the Rain Dial Irritrol RD 600-ExtR. The date indicates it was made in 2010. I bought it used from my gardener who said it was in excellent working order.
    It doesn’t seem to be getting power from the wall outlet. It uses up batteries quickly but isn’t watering! The display shows each station is “on”, but there is no water. I tried the factory resets many times, but the display shows the current settings-i.e., it didn’t reset to 12:00, etc.
    My new gardener wants to replace the whole thing without trying to fix it. Question, is it worth fixing? What other things can I check? (I know the irrigation water isn’t shut off, as one of the valves is currently leaking-LOL) I don’t know that I feel competent to do anything with regard to wiring, electricity, etc.


    • Hi Ruth,

      If you remove the battery, does the display go out?
      Check the DIY Troubleshooting page for item 11.
      Then look at that page for item 2, items C and D. Do as much of D that you feel comfortable with and let me know how it goes.


    • Hi Tom,
      I’m not fully sure; It could be that you’re having issues with the dial making contact to the board… I would recommend that you try resetting the timer and see if that helps.


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