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How to Manually Open a Sprinkler Valve

Great news!

If your sprinkler timer has failed, or there is an issue with the wiring, it is still possible to turn on the sprinkler zone manually, by opening the valve with your hands.

This way you don’t have to run back and forth between the timer/controller and the zone you are watering.

Opening the valve manually is very useful if you are checking out a sprinkler system. This is because you can open a sprinkler valve without using the sprinkler timer. This is a huge time saver, especially if the timer happens to be in the basement, in the garage, or another room in the house. This way you don’t have to run back and forth between the timer/controller and the zone you are watering. If you have multiple valves in a manifold, you can open them all in a single location.


There are 2 simple methods to open the valve manually:

1. Open the Manual Bleed Screw

The first way to open this valve is to open the manual bleed screw. You will notice that the manual bleed screw is located towards the back of the valve near the flow control. To open the valve manually, twist the manual bleed screw counter-clockwise until the valve opens. It usually doesn’t need to be more than one-half turn. To close the valve turn the manual bleed screw clockwise until the valve closes. Note: opening the manual bleed screw will cause water to leak out, this is normal, and there is no reason to be alarmed.

manual valve operation

2. Turn the Solenoid

The second way to open the valve is to grasp the solenoid (the black cylinder with the wires attached to it) and turn it approximately one-quarter turn counter-clockwise until the valve opens. To close the valve, turn the solenoid clockwise until the valve closes. This is the method that many prefer because most times when you open the manual bleed screw, it causes water to leak out into the valve box. If the valve is left on for any period of time, it can start filling the valve box with water. Usually opening the valve by twisting the solenoid doesn’t leak water into the valve box.

So the next time your sprinkler system is not working correctly, and you need to apply water, try operating the zone valve manually.

Happy sprinkling!

4 thoughts on “How to Manually Open a Sprinkler Valve”

    • Hi Gerald. This looks like a duplicate question. Hopefully, our answer to your previous question is helpful.

      We are here for you anytime!

    • Hi Gerald. Thanks for commenting, this is a very common question and it could have a simple fix.

      This is either an electrical issue or a hydraulic issue. Most likely it’s an electric issue and is very often just a failed solenoid or a failed splice connection at the valve solenoid.

      Checking Electrical
      I would start by turning on the zone and checking to see if the solenoid is activated. The best way to check without using electrical equipment is to place your hand on the solenoid and see if you feel it vibrating/buzzing. Some solenoids make a humming sound, but not all, so by placing your hand on the solenoid you should be able to tell if it is activated. If you feel nothing than the solenoid is not activated, the issue is electrical, and you should check the splice connection, and then replace the solenoid if you have determined the wiring to be good. This might require more advanced tools & the help of a professional.

      Checking Hydraulics
      If you feel the solenoid vibrating/buzzing, then the electrical path to the valve is good, and the issue is likely with the valve diaphragm, or with the solenoid plunger. Remove the solenoid and check to see that there is no debris clogging it. Next, check to be sure that the valve is not closed with the manual flow control. The manual flow control is a feature of certain valves, and perhaps not your model, so check to see if there is a handle on the top, and if so, make sure it is turned all the way open. Next, remove the top of the valve and check for debris inside the valve that could be preventing the diaphragm from opening. You can easily replace the diaphragm if needed.

      I recommend buying a replacement valve (not just the parts), and using the new valve as replacement parts. A new valve will come with everything you will need to fix failures.

      Good luck, and let us know if you need any additional assistance.


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