How to Find a Broken Sprinkler Control Valve Wire


The small, braided wires that run from electric sprinkler timers to automatic irrigation valves remain exposed to weather and often suffer damage from foot traffic, landscaping equipment and yard tools. If the timer is properly programmed and the valves are manually operable, checking sprinkler wires is the logical next step in the troubleshooting process. The most effective way to find a severed wire is to trace the wires' path between the timer and automatic valves.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Wire strippers
  • Flashlight
  • Ladder
  • Wire cutters
  • Waterproof wire nuts
  • Find the sprinkler system's timer or automatic irrigation valve. Locate the multicolored, braided wires that extend from the bottom of the timer or attach to the valve's solenoids. Solenoids are cylindrical control components that typically protrude from the top of the valve.

  • Inspect the wires' connections to the solenoid or remover the timer's cover and inspect the wires' connection to the timer. If the connections are loose, tighten the wires' terminal screws with a screwdriver. If the wires are severed at their connection to the solenoid or timer, strip the ends of the loose wires with a pair of wire strippers to reveal fresh wire. Loosen the terminal screws, remove the old wire, wrap fresh wire around the screws and tighten the terminal screws with a screwdriver.

  • Follow the wires away from the solenoid or timer to search for breaks between the separate components. Pull up buried wire from the ground to inspect for breaks. Use a flashlight to examine wires that are concealed behind plants, tall grass or exterior features.

  • Use a ladder to inspect raised wiring, such as wires anchored along the roof's eave line. Gently pull wires away from the wall to inspect both the front and back of the wires. If you began at the timer, follow the wires until you reach the valve. If you began at the valve, follow the wires until you reach the timer.

  • Sever partially broken wires with the wire cutters. Strip 1 to 2 inches of insulation from the loose ends of the broken wires. Position the wires side to side and twist them to braid the separate sections. Place a waterproof wire nut over the braided splice and twist the nut clockwise to join the wires.

Tips & Warnings

  • Look for waterproof wire nuts in the electrical or garden section of your local hardware store.
  • If you don't find a broken wire, troubleshoot the sprinkler timer and automatic valves.

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  • Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
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