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Drip Irrigation FAQs & Troubleshooting

Typical drip irrigation layout

Questions about drip irrigation? Need help figuring out why your system is leaking or not working properly? Your friends at PlumbingSupply.com® are pleased to provide answers to common questions about these water-efficient gardening systems, as well as advice and assistance with troubleshooting.

Not sure what you need to set up a new drip irrigation system? Check out our guide to getting started with drip irrigation for help

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. "What do some of these terms mean?"
A. Common terms used in drip irrigation are:

MHT = Male hose thread - like you find on the business end of a garden hose.
FHT = Female hose thread - like on the faucet end of the garden hose.
MIPS = Male iron pipe size - male threads typically used in water piping.
FIPS = Female iron pipe size - female threads like above.
GPM = Gallons per minute.
GPH = Gallons per hour

Q. "What is a hydroponics garden system?"
A.Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in water without soil. Plants are seeded in a mineral nutrient solution in water. When mineral nutrients are artificially introduced into a plant's water supply, they are absorbed through the roots and soil is not required for the plant to grow and thrive..

Q. "Do the drippers have to attach to the end of 1/4" tubing?"
A. No. All of the drippers that we sell can be attached directly to the .700 tubing. Just punch a hole and press the dripper into it.

Q. "What's the difference between .700 tubing and the 1/2" drip tubing at my local garden supply store? And where does the 1/4" tubing fit in all this?"
A. ' 1/2" ' drip tubing actually varies in size from .455"od all the way up to .900"od. The tubing we sell measures .700"od (.600"id). We call it .700 because the different sizes of tubing are not always interchangeable (although, we have adapters for just about any size). This is in contrast to the 1/4" drip tubing, which is almost universally 1/4" outside diameter (.170"id). You normally use the ' 1/2" ' tubing for main supply lines and the 1/4" tubing for individual feeder lines.

Q. "At my local home center I noticed that they sell the same sized 1/4" tubing but for their larger main pipe size they sell a .600od (or .613 or .620 or .455). Why don't you offer those smaller sizes instead?"
A.We believe in the .700 size. It is the most used size by professionals and that size is the most "uniform" of all of the sizes. Also, consider the difference in volume that the piping can carry. If you take the .600od (.500id) and compare it to our .700od (.600id) our pipe can carry additional 44% more water! We can't understand why anyone would buy smaller pipe for a main line. Down the road, if you need additional fittings, or need to add to an odd-sized pipe, you might have a problem getting that oddball size. We say, stick to what most professionals buy. You'll be happier in the end.

Q. "Your .700 OD pipe price seems so low because I'm paying about the same for smaller tubing, is the quality as good?"
A.The .700 OD pipe that we sell is made in the U.S. using the finest top-quality resins from Union Carbide (DFDA 7510 base resin and Union Carbide approved carbon black concentrate resin) - the industry's recognized best drip tubing materials. These products are specifically designed for use in drip irrigation tubing and are manufactured to provide outstanding resistance to both environmental and thermal stress cracking. The manufacturer also conforms to ASAE S435 standards for inner diameter and wall thickness tolerances, which mean the pipe will fit very well with standard .700 fittings. We do not sell the .700 pipe in longer than 100' due to size of packaging.

Q. "Ok, I'm sold on your better pipe and professional sizes, but I already have some tubing. Can I adapt my existing to yours?"
A. You sure can! We have adapters for most sizes of tubing. And if you're not sure what size your tubing is, just cut off a small piece and mail it to us.

Q. "What is the color of your 1/4" and .700 tubing?"
A. Black.

Q. "How flexible is the .700 tubing?"
A. The .700 tubing that we sell should easily handle a turn with a 9" radius.

Q. "How do I connect the 1/4" tubing to the .700 tubing?"
A. You connect them with a normal 1/4" drip coupling. You punch a hole in the .700 tubing with a drip hole punch, and then you press in the coupling. The 1/4" tubing slips over the other end of the 1/4" coupling.

Q. "I want to connect the .700 tubing to my hose bib (outside faucet). What fitting do I need?"
A. For a standard connection you need the female hose adapter #CSAW700 (if you also want to install a filter, etc. then see below).

Q. "What do I do to cap off the end of the .700 tubing?"
A. You can use either a figure-eight fitting (slide the fitting over the tubing, fold over the end of the tubing, and slide the end back through the fitting), a .700 x 3/4"MHT adapter and a cap, or a .700 in-line valve.

Q. "What is a figure 8 fitting?"
A.It is for the .700 O.D. pipe and is to cap the end of the tubing. You simply put one end of the tubing through one hole and then back through the other hole and it will stop water at the end of a line. You can also use an adapter, the #D70HMC 3/4" MHT Adapter (includes a cap) but the figure 8 is the lowest price way to act like a cap.

Q. "What pressure range do you recommend for a drip system?"
A.We recommend that you supply your drip system with between 20 and 25psi. If your water system has higher pressure (most do) we recommend using a pressure regulator (install it before any of our drip products.

Q. "If my system is running at 20psi, how much water will I get out of it?"
A. If you start with at least 40psi and install one of our 20psi regulators, your system will produce 8gpm (480gph) maximum.

Q. "Is the In-line Regulator a flow restriction device or an actual pressure regulator?"
A. It is actually a pressure regulator (not just a piece of plastic with a small hole in the center).

Q. "What is the maximum length I can run the .700 drip tubing?"
A. The .700 tubing can be used at varying lengths with different outputs.
Assuming 20psi and evenly spaced emitters:

100' will allow 150gph total
250' will allow 135gph total
500' will allow 120gph total

we don't recommend lines over 500' long (unless you put very few emitters on them).

Q. "What is 'evenly spaced emitters' mean?"
A. It means that when that is specified you cannot put all of the emitters in one spot. If you placed 100 one gallon per hour emitters within a short distance then you can not expect to be able to also use 20 more one gallon emitters after 500 feet on the same line (therefore totaling 120gph as shown above). In order for the above rules to work you need to place the emitters apart and not all bunched up.

Q. "Any tips on installation?"
A. We always recommend a pressure regulator and a screen type, cleanable filter.
Always install the tubing first with the end of the line open and not plugged off. Turn on the water supply and flush out the tubing. Turn off the water then install all your emitters/drippers/etc. Turn on the water again and check your emitters.

Q. "Should I install the pressure regulator first, or the wye filter?"
A. If your pressure is over 40psi we recommend installing the pressure regulator first.

Q. "To my outside faucet I wish to connect a filter, pressure regulator, vacuum breaker and then go to .700 drip pipe. In other words, how do I connect these from the hose faucet to the tubing (in what order)?"
A.The first thing to connect after your (garden faucet - hose bibb) is a pressure regulator (#PRH). Then either install an inline strainer (#FIL75) or install both a brass Female-to-Female hose adapter and wye strainer (#DFILHC) (if you install the inline strainer you will not need the female-to-female adapter). Then the vacuum breaker (#DVB) and finally the adapter CSAW700 that goes from female hose threads to the pipe. Once you have done the "hard part" (ordered and then installed these parts in this order) the rest of the drip installation usually is very easy.

Q. "I'm installing my drip system indoors and can't have any leaks between emitters and tubing. Are your emitters guaranteed to not leak at all where they connect to the pipe?"
A.Irrigation drip systems, such as what we offer, tend to leak less when a pressure regulator is used. Drip systems will and can leak slightly and if you can not have any leak in your system at all then we recommend not installing drip systems at all. We are not aware of any brand of drip products that won't leak slightly. Drip products are meant (designed) to be installed outdoors.


Troubleshooting

Q. "I just installed the 'Plus' emitter drippers and no water is coming out of them?"
A.The Plus drippers are directional. Simply reverse the inlet/outlet. As we state on our dripper directions page you do need to install the colored barbed side towards the inlet side.


PROBLEM CAUSED BY SOLUTION
Emitters blow off tubing
Tubing separates from fittings
Emitters blow apart
Pressure too high Install Pressure Regulator
Emitter blow off or leak around base of emitter Holes are too large in supply tubing Use goof plug to seal off old hole. Use correct hole punch for new holes
Uneven uniformity
No water at end of tubing
Length of run too long Divide into shorter runs or reduce discharge rate of emitters
Uneven uniformity
No water at end of tubing
Pressure is too low Try reducing discharge rates of emitters, or operating only part of system at any time
Emitters plug Inadequate filtration Install filter. If filter is already installed, check screen for breaks.
Calcium carbonate build-up causing partial or full plugging of emitters Excessive hard water Inject dilute acid through system or replace emitters
Tubing separates from fittings Tubing/fitting incompatibility Replace with correct hose or correct fittings. Make sure tubing is pushed in all the way
Little or no water at top of hill Running tubing up too steep a hill Change configuration to run down hill


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