Troubleshooting - How to Shut System Off

My System Keeps Running When It’s Not Supposed To…..

When a part of the system stays on well after the scheduled shut down time, you know you have a problem. Sometimes the problem is an error in setting up the watering schedule in the irrigation controller. In other instances, there is a mechanical problem and you will need to manually turn off the water.

There are two places to turn off the sprinkler system: the system controller and a shut-off valve at the water source.

Turning Off the System at the Controller

Every irrigation controller has an OFF position. Depending upon the model or manufacturer of the controller, the OFF setting can be called RAIN OFF, RAIN, or simply OFF. In each instance the switch or dial position does the same thing; it shuts off the system electrically.

If you turn the switch or dial on the controller to the OFF position, you have done all you can do at the controller. You can un-plug the unit at the wall, but in most cases, that won’t get you any further. (Note: un-plugging the controller could result in the loss of the watering program and require re-programming to reactivate the system.)

If the water is still running after you set the controller to the OFF position, this indicates that there is a mechanical problem with your system that will require you to manually turn the water off at the source.

Turning Off the System at the Water Source To turn the system off at the water source, you will need to locate the MAIN EMERGENCY CUTOFF for the sprinkler system. This will turn off the sprinkler system water without turning off the water to the entire house or building.

The valves on your backflow prevention device can act as the easiest to locate EMERGENCY CUT OFF. To assist you in locating the backflow device and correctly operating the valves, we are including pictures and information below.

The backflow device is usually located near the street in a rectangular box with a green lid. Older devices can be in a oval shaped box. In most cases the box sits inside the property line near the water meter. It may be difficult to see, since grass may have grown over the cover!

In some situations backflow devices are located above the ground. These are usually associated with septic drain fields or in some older systems.

Once you have located the device, turning it off is the next step. Each backflow device has two cut off valves, each does the same job. They turn off the water at the source without turning off the water to the house.

Ball Valves: Modern backflow devices are equipped with "ball valves". Each has a handle that appears as a "T" shaped lever on the backflow device. Rotate either of them in a clock-wise direction to shut the flow of water. When completed, the "T" will be positioned across the flow of the water through the pipe and you should see the flow of water stop.

(There may be a good deal of resistance in moving this handle, the device may have been in service a long time and the valves may have never been turned.)

Gate Valves: Older devices have "gate valves" with handles that look like faucet handles. Rotate either one in a clock-wise fashion until the water in the system is off.

The handles of these devices are notorious for twisting off due to corrosion. Be careful when forcing these handles, they can cause a nasty cut if broken off. You may want to wear some leather gloves!


If you are planning to install a sprinkler system, give us a call. We can assure you that we will be committed to installing a system that will save you water and provide your landscape with just the right amount of water that it needs to thrive. Give us a call today at 281-340-9206 or fill out our online request for an appointment. We service the entire Houston metropolitan area as well as San Antonio, Austin and Dallas. Become our Facebook Fan or share this page with your facebook friends. Share

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