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Sprinklers Won’t Turn Off? Try These Easy Fixes

Sprinklers Won’t Turn Off? Try These Easy Fixes

If your sprinklers won’t turn off, they can quickly become an expensive and destructive problem.

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the reasons sprinklers won’t turn off and how you can try to fix them.

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Sprinklers Won’t Turn Off? Try These Fixes

If your sprinklers won’t turn off, they can ramp up your water bill, flood your yard, and waste a tremendous amount of water.

To avoid this, it’s crucial to examine your water valves to diagnose the problem or call a professional.

If your sprinklers won’t turn off, there are a few things to try right off the bat. These aren’t the only things that can cause your sprinklers to resist turning off, but they’re the most common and obvious problems.

Once you rule these issues out, you can consider other, less common issues.

1. Check the Main Water Supply

Man troubleshooting the main water supply in a sprinkler system box because the sprinklers won't turn off


Sometimes, the issue lies in your main water supply valve. This can include:

  • Dirt or debris inside the valve
  • The valve isn’t able to close fully
  • The valve is broken

This is the quickest and most obvious check, so it’s worth doing first. If you check the main water supply valve and can quickly diagnose what’s going on, you can either repair it there or look for the part you need.

If the problem is a clog, you’ll have to clear it out and put it back on. However, if the valve is broken or not fitting correctly, you might need to replace it. You can find replacement valves at most hardware stores.

2. Check the Control Panel

Step 2 in troubleshooting sprinklers that won't turn off is checking the wall control panel


Once you’ve checked the main valve, it’s time to look at the control panel. Sometimes the problem can be as simple as your system needing to be reset. This can happen if you’ve had a surge or power outage.

Check your sprinkler system’s control panel to see if it’s on. If it isn’t displaying any data, it has likely lost power.

In this case, all you need to do is find the reset button and trigger it. Bear in mind that most reset buttons are inverted and need an inserted manual trigger like a paper clip or coin.

Most types of sprinkler systems have a backup battery system to ensure they keep working after losing power. So it’s always possible that your control panel needs to be reset, even if the screen isn’t blank.

Try taking out the battery to check if it’s still getting power. If it still runs without the battery, it doesn’t need to be reset.

3. Check Other Controller Components

Check the panel to fix sprinklers that won't turn off featuring a simple white wall with conduit and a grey panel


This is a good time to check other parts of your control panel, including your sprinkler presets. If your sprinklers won’t turn off, the problem could be as simple as reprogramming your watering time.

It’s also possible that the controller transformer needs more power. If the panel is underpowered, your sprinklers might not be responding to the settings.

You can test with a multimeter, but although this isn’t too difficult to diagnose, it can be extremely difficult to repair on your own.

Don’t ever attempt electrical rewiring or other projects on your own. Instead, contact a professional electrician or irrigation specialist to help you.

Not only are these projects exhaustive and time-consuming, but they can also be dangerous unless you know what you’re doing. An electrician might be able to repair the control panel, or they might advise you to replace it altogether.

4. Check the Valves for Trapped Air

Image of a sprinkler box with valves inside a mulched area to help diagnose when sprinklers wont turn off

Virrage Images/Shutterstock

A relatively common problem after you first set up the sprinkler system or the first time you run it after the spring thaw is air becoming trapped in valves. This can cause the valve diaphragm to get stuck in an open position, keeping the sprinklers flowing.

Luckily, this isn’t a complicated fix. To let the air out of the sprinkler valves, you’ll need to make sure that the main water supply is on. Address each valve one at a time by either unscrewing it or turning the lever on the top.

Let a bit of water out of each valve, then close it again. This should flush out any air bubbles and help you close the valve diaphragm again. If the problem persists, try flushing the valves again.

5. Check the Screws and Levers

Checking an underground sprinkler system box because they won't turn off


Sometimes, the internal screws and levers around the main water valve get stuck in the open position. This is a simple fix.

Usually, if you manually push them into the closed position, the water will shut off, and you won’t have any further problems.

Sometimes they still get stuck. But manually turning them off will at least temporarily stop the problem until you can contact a professional.

Sometimes you need to open the main box and manually turn off each valve to check which one is the problem.

This can be painstaking and time-consuming, but it might at least stop the water from flowing so you can do a more thorough investigation or contact a professional.

Things to Consider

Before you tackle a sprinkler repair on your own, there are a few things to consider, including:

  • Make sure not to tamper with your system’s backflow valve, as this can reintroduce dirty water into the municipal water supply, which is a health hazard.
  • Address the most obvious problems first, like a clogged valve or a power surge. This will save you from unnecessary work.
  • A power surge can knock your system out, even if you see the display still working. If it has a backup battery, it will still work. Don’t rule out the need to reset just because the display is on.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re attempting to tackle a sprinkler repair on your own, you might have specific questions about how to do it.

Here are the top questions that other people ask on the topic.

When Should I Turn Off My Sprinkler System?

You probably know that you shouldn’t run your sprinkler system all year. This risks damage to the pipes, valves, and other components and can lead to long-term damage and expensive repairs. To protect your sprinkler system, make sure you turn it off for the winter.

That means that you should winterize your system once the weather consistently drops below freezing at night. Many people turn their sprinkler system off once their lawn starts to turn brown. But this isn’t an indication that it’s time to winterize.

It simply means that the grass is going dormant for the colder months. To keep it healthy for next spring, you should keep watering until the temperature is consistently freezing. In addition to turning off the system, make sure you insulate your pipes with fiberglass or insulation wrap to protect them from freezing or bursting.

Where Is My Sprinkler Shut-Off Valve?

For most sprinkler repairs, you’ll need to locate the main shut-off valve. This is usually located between your home water supply main and the sprinkler control system.

It might also be near an outdoor faucet main in your yard. If it’s located outdoors, it’s usually covered by a box to keep it safe from rain, snow, and hail.

How Do I Flush Out My Sprinkler Irrigation Valve?

One of the most common reasons why sprinkler systems get stuck on is when dirt or debris gets stuck in the irrigation valve.

Luckily, this is an easy repair. All you need to do is flush the dirt out of the valve, and it should begin functioning properly once again.

To flush out the valve, make sure you first shut off the main water supply. Failing to do so could result in serious injury. Unscrew the solenoid to check if the valve plunger can move.

Remove the screws and diaphragm from inside the valve, washing them with water and checking for damage. Flush the valve body with water to remove any dirt, debris, or pebbles.

When to Call a Pro

Man in green gloves fixing a sprinkler system that won't turn off next to a drain and a trench

Virrage Images/Shutterstock

If you’re ever unsure about the problem or how to solve it, opt for calling a professional over tackling the issue on your own.

Trying to force a repair can damage your sprinkler system further, exacerbating the problem and requiring expensive replacements.

Trying to fix the sprinkler yourself if you don’t feel confident in your abilities can also cause other problems, like damaging your backflow valve. This can cause dirty water to flow back into your city’s water supply, which is a health hazard.

Call an irrigation professional to avoid damaging your sprinkler system, hurting yourself, or contaminating fresh water. They have the knowledge and tools to pinpoint the problem and safely repair or replace the necessary components.

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We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

Sprinklers Still Won’t Turn Off?

So, what should you do when your sprinklers won’t turn off?

We’ve talked about how to examine the valves carefully and test out different temporary or permanent repairs.

If you’re not sure of yourself, it’s always better to contact an irrigation professional who can do the necessary repairs.