Drip Irrigation System Simple Maintenance & Repair
The ability to make fast and complete repairs to your Drip Irrigation system immediately, saves time and money. Keeping a few spare parts on hand also saves down time which will keep your plants happy and healthy. This will guide you through a few important maintenance tips and simple repairs that you can do without any experience at all.
Head Assembly Components
The Head Assembly (backflow preventer, filter and pressure regulator) are vital to a properly operating drip system. Remember, nothing lasts forever. Even with top notch maintenance, high quality parts wear out. Leaks are the most noticeable sign of something wrong with your head assembly components. Here is a link to our Head Assembly Installation Tips.
Maintenance & Repair Tips:
All head assembly components should be protected from freezing temperatures. Follow our Winterizing Instructions if you live in an area where temperatures drop below 37° F.
Rubber washers get dry and no longer compress to seal the threaded components together to prevent leaks. We recommend replacing the rubber washers in female hose threaded connections every year when you hook up your head assembly to your irrigation system. Keep a small supply of 3/4" washer seals on hand.
Do not over-tighten! Hose thread components make their leakproof seal with a rubber washer compressed between the two (a male and a female) threaded connections. Over-tightening can distort the washer or create tiny fractures in the plastics (and even in brass) that will cause premature failure. Hand tighten only, no tools!
Mismatched threads or cross threading can damage the threads and cause leaking. Be sure you have matching thread types before screwing two pieces together. Here is a link to Know Your Threads for additional information on thread types.
Clogging is the number one issue with drip emitters. The very tiny opening in most drip and micro-irrigation emitters can get clogged even in clean water. Minerals in the water or even the chemicals and fertilizers we use on our systems can build up and clog the emitter. See Troubleshooting Drippers for additional assistance with dripper operation.
Maintenance & Repair Tips:
Proper filtration is pertinent to optimal operation of any drip irrigation system. Make sure your mesh size correlates to your emitter type. Almost every filter has a screen that can easily be removed for cleaning.
Irrigation Product Type
Minimum Filtration Needed
Rotors, Sprinkler Spray Nozzles
Drip Emitters, Sprayers, Spray Jets
Flushing your system is the best preventive measure we can take. Flushing can be done by removing the end caps on irrigation lines and allowing the water to flow through to flush out any deposits or debris that may be trapped in the lines. If your system requires more frequent flushing then you might consider installing Flush Valve End Caps for more convenience.
Cleanable drippers are a great option if you know you have dirty or hard water. No need to remove the entire dripper, just unscrew the top, be careful not to lose the tiny diaphragm inside, rinse all parts and replace diaphragm and cap. Here are links to some of our cleanable drippers: Toro Cleanable Drippers; Ceta Cleanable Drippers; or we offer the Bowsmith Non Clog Drippers with their unique Pressure Cascade Principle of continuous self-cleaning action.
If non cleanable drippers become clogged, changing drippers in your system is pretty easy. Removing the dripper from tubing:
¼” micro-tubing - Remove clogged dripper, trim tubing end and insert a new dripper
½” and larger tubing - Grasp dripper and carefully tug or pull to remove from mainline tubing. It may be necessary to plug the hole from the old dripper using a goof plug then punch a new hole nearby and insert the new dripper
These steps will ensure a tight seal for the new dripper. If you have trouble grasping the dripper our item #1576 Pocket Punch has a component built in to aid in dripper removal.
Punctures or Holes in Tubing
Whether from removing a dripper or run of micro-tubing from a main line, a critter chewing on it, or even a run away shovel or lawn mower, most often a hole or other damage can be repaired instead of replacing the entire line.
Maintenance & Repair Tips:
Holes from barbed drippers and fittings are plugged by using the appropriate sized Goof Plug.
Small damaged areas can be “bandaged” with Poly Tubing Repair Tape or the damaged section can be cut out and a Coupler used to join the sections back together or add a new section of tubing into the run using two couplers.
Adding to Your System
First and foremost, check your water source flow rate before adding to assure you can provide the necessary flow before adding to your system. Here is a link to our Flow Rate Calculator and Instructions.
Next, make sure you know the specific inside/outside diameter size of your tubing to assure getting the correct sized fittings to add to or extend your system. Unfortunately, there is no industry standard in irrigation tubing sizes. For additional details see Adding To An Existing Drip Irrigation System.
For additional information and troubleshooting drip systems see these articles in our Education Center.
Product FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Repairing Drip Irrigation Tubing