What Is a Irrigation Valve Solenoid?

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  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 13 January 2020
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Irrigation systems are in-ground water sprinklers that are made with many types of irrigation parts and underground plumbing. An irrigation valve solenoid is a small mechanical device that manages the flow of water to an underground sprinkler system. The solenoid is turned on and off with an electrical charge that causes a small plunger to release the water into the sprinkler pipes, which makes the sprinkler heads pop up out of the ground and spray water onto a lawn.

There are several types of solenoids used in irrigation systems. They come in a wide range of sizes, which fit most underground plumbing and are made from metal, copper or plastic material. Each solenoid has a screw on one end, which is connected to the plumbing and a set of wires on the opposite side that are connected to a central activation unit.

Solenoids are normally attached to electronic timers that manage the length of time a lawn is watered. If an irrigation valve solenoid gets stuck open for an extended period of time it can cause the lawn to flood. These valves may become obstructed with small dirt or sand particles, which can force the solenoid to remain open. It is important to keep solenoids in a clean, secure, valve box that is designed to keep small dirt particles away from the mechanical hardware of the system.


A valve solenoid is typically connected to a large irrigation manifold that coordinates the distribution of water from a central water source to specific areas of a lawn. This manifold has a separate irrigation valve solenoid for each area of the lawn. The solenoids are activated with electronic timers that manages the flow of water for each zone for specific time intervals and durations during the day.

If the sprinkler system doesn’t work properly it typically requires some basic troubleshooting techniques. A broken irrigation valve solenoid is easy to detect because the water does not flow to a specific area or sprinkler head. Using the manual bleed feature on the solenoid valve, which bypasses the electronic signal, is the easiest way to test a solenoid. If this makes the water flow the electronic solenoid typically needs replacing.

Installing an irrigation valve solenoid is also a fairly simple process. It requires a few basic mechanical skills and some lightweight electric wiring tools. The solenoid is easily connected by screwing the threaded end of the device into the irrigation manifold, leaving the wires exposed on the top of the unit. These wires are then connected to an activation switch and sealed with waterproof twist-on wire caps.


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