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You are here: Home > Sprinkler School™ > Parts and Components > Controllers or Timers and Remotes > How To Replace An Irrigation Controller / Timer
How To Replace A Controller/Timer

How To Replace An Irrigation Controller/Timer

Controllers - Parts and Components

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If you already have a controller that is giving you problems and find that you need to replace it with a new one, let me reassure you that it is very easy to replace an irrigation system controller and most any homeowner or irrigation repair person can handle this task.

Before beginning the replacement, first determine if this procedure is really necessary. Your problem may be the result of a blown fuse or a transformer failure. If the controller has no power, proceed with the controller replacement.

  1. Write down all existing programming on the old controller. Include notes on which days to water, what time to start watering, and how long for each zone.

    If the old irrigation controller is completely dead and you can not get this information, no worries, as you can program the new controller to water a few days a week and the rotor zones for 20 minutes and the spray head zones for 5 to 8 minutes each time they come on. A good start time is 4:00 or 5:00 am so that all the watering is completed before you need to use water in the house during the morning. Then you can adjust these settings later as you find that the yard is getting watered too much or not enough.

  2. Unplug the transformer from the wall or turn off the power to the controller at the breaker box. Do NOT go any further until you are absolutely certain that there is NO electrical power to the controller.

  3. Remove the face of the controller

  4. Disconnect the field wires and label each one with a piece of masking tape as you remove them. Use the following method to label the wires:

    • The two most important wires to pay attention to are the COMMON and (if your system is run by a pump without a pressure tank) the PUMP START WIRE.

    • The common terminal in the controller is usually marked by the letter "C".

    • The pump start terminal will be labeled either "PS" or "MV".

  5. Inside of an Irrigation Controller marking wires

  6. Replace your controller with the same model and brand that you already have on your system. If you can not buy the same model, that's OK, just get one that has the correct number of stations or zones that you had on your old timer and make sure to get all the features you want.

  7. Normally, all of the field wires will be a different color. Simply write down which color wire relates to the corrisponding terminal. (e.g. White=Common, Red=Zone 1, Green=Zone 2, etc.)

  8. Irrigation controller rewired
  9. Unscrew the old controller from the wall and mount the new one.

  10. Re-connect the power wires and turn on the breaker or plug in the transformer.

  11. Connect your zone field wires and test that every zone comes on.

  12. Now your new controller should be fully functional and ready for programming. Referring to your programming notes from step 1, program your new controller.

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