A sprinkler valve box location tool, sometimes called a valve locator or wire tracer, is a device used to locate the buried solenoid valves of a sprinkler system. These valves are usually housed in valve boxes beneath the ground. Over time, the tops of these boxes may become covered with grass, dirt, or other landscaping, making them hard to find.

Here’s a general step-by-step guide to using a sprinkler valve box location tool:

  1. Safety First: Always ensure that you are working in a safe environment. Before you begin, locate and be aware of any utility lines in your yard.
  2. Setup the Transmitter:
    • Turn off the sprinkler system.
    • Locate the controller (timer) for your sprinkler system.
    • Disconnect one of the wires that run from the controller to the valves. This is typically a common (ground) wire.
    • Connect the transmitter of the valve locator to this wire. One transmitter lead will connect to the wire you just disconnected, and the other will connect to the common terminal on the controller.
  3. Turn on the Transmitter: Power on the transmitter. It will send a signal through the wire and valve solenoid.
  4. Using the Receiver:
    • Turn on the receiver.
    • Start near the controller and slowly move away, holding the receiver close to the ground. The receiver will pick up the signal from the buried wire.
    • Follow the audible or visual signal on the receiver. Sign strength will change as you move closer to or further from the buried valve or wire.
  5. Locate the Valve Box:
    • As you trace the wire with the receiver, you will eventually arrive at the location of the valve box.
    • The signal will be strongest right above the valve box or solenoid. You may notice a change in the signal pattern, indicating that you’re above or near the valve.
    • Mark the spot once you identify the location.
  6. Verify: Dig gently around the marked spot to verify the location of the valve box. Use caution not to damage any wires or the valve box itself.
  7. Reconnect Everything: Once you’ve located the valve box, don’t forget to disconnect the valve locator and reconnect the sprinkler system wires back to their original positions on the controller.
  8. Store the Tool: Store the sprinkler valve box location tool in a safe and dry place for future use.

Suppose you’ve never used a valve locator before. In that case, it might be helpful to watch some online tutorials or seek professional advice to ensure you’re using the tool correctly and safely.