Love summertime but hate the heat? Of course you do! Buildings and cars have air conditioning, pools and bodies of water abound…but what about your patio, deck, or gazebo? The children's play area? When the temperature climbs, these fun and relaxing spots can become unbearable, quick. But a small investment of time and money can turn it all around ‐ like the best restaurant patios, you too can have an outdoor misting system to stay cool!
Performing best when humidity is low, a misting system can drop the local temperature by 20°F or more! How is it possible? Evaporation! As mist droplets evaporate in the air and on your skin, they absorb heat ‐ just like sweat on your skin. The misting systems described below do this quite economically: no pump is required, and most mist emitters typically use 1 gallon per hour or less (ours flow at 1 gph).
Misting systems can be made with a variety of materials: PVC and drip irrigation tubing (polyethylene, or "PE") are the most common (and around the same price), but copper and stainless steel can be found in higher‐end installations. Large or high‐end systems might also utilize pumps to maintain adequate pressure in the misting line, but the PVC and drip systems we'll be talking about require only a connection to an outdoor faucet or garden hose.
A DIY misting system can be installed on nearly any structure (so long as the pipe/hose can be secured to walls, beams, posts, etc.) and freestanding systems can take on a wide range of designs; only you can decide what type will be best for you. The standard "hanging" system will provide the best experience and can be rather well‐concealed; freestanding designs are even easier to put together and portable, though their misting area is typically smaller and more direct. A hanging system can be made using PVC pipe, PE, copper or stainless steel tubing. Freestanding systems are usually PVC. Because of the wide range of designs, we won't be covering freestanding misters here (but the process is nearly the same).
Bright Idea! Misting systems are a wonderful idea for your furry friends, as well! Misters around dog kennels, stables and livestock pens will keep animals cool, happy and safe on the hottest afternoons. Add a timer to ensure water flows only during the warmest part of the day.
Before purchasing your supplies, break out the tape measure and figure out the lengths of pipe or tubing you'll need for your space. This is absolutely necessary for PVC systems. Systems using drip tubing don't necessarily need to be measured and cut beforehand, but doing so will save you from lugging around a 100' roll.
- Remember that you'll also need to reach an outdoor faucet or garden hose with your pipe/tubing, and that for best performance in a hanging system, the misters should be 8–10 ft above the ground. Factor these requirements into your measurements.
- Record or mark the top starting point where the first tubing support will go (the end of the tubing will need to hang at least 1" below this to ensure proper drainage).
Build a Misting System Using Drip Irrigation Tubing
Systems utilizing drip tubing are easier to put together than those using PVC, and perform just as well. For the quickest install ‐ and the easiest one to take apart and use elsewhere ‐ use drip tubing!
Step 1: Depending on the total length of your system, you can either pre‐cut the tubing according to your measurements (as stated above) or carry the entire roll around with you. The latter option will be cumbersome (unless you have a partner), but does give you some wiggle room.
Step 2: Put together the faucet assembly:
- To the male outlet of the pressure regulator, attach the filter.
Insert the first run of tubing (that will go up 8–10 feet to the first support) into the FHT × .700 adapter.
Connect the assembly to your outdoor faucet or garden hose.
- For systems using a standard in‐line filter, connect the FHT × .700 adapter to the filter outlet.
- If using a wye filter, connect the FHT × FHT adapter to the inlet of the filter (for connection to the regulator). To the outlet end of the filter, connect the FHT × .700 OD adapter.
Step 3: Install the first tubing support (be it a pipe hanger, clamp, strap or hook) 8–10 feet above the ground. If you haven't already, record this height.
Step 4: If you've pre‐cut the tubing, connect an elbow to the end of the first run coming from the faucet/hose and place the open end of the elbow in the support. Then connect the next run of tubing. If you haven't pre‐cut, cut the tubing where it meets the support you just installed and attach an elbow. Put the elbow through the support and connect the remainder of your tubing.
Step 5: Hold the next run of tubing up about two feet past the first support, and secure the next tubing support there. Depending on the rigidity of the tubing you're working with you may need more supports closer together to prevent sagging of the line.
Step 6: Continue installing supports and tubing at regular intervals and at an even height around your structure, using elbows to turn corners. Once you've reached the end of the perimeter, install the final support at least 1" below the height of the first to help with drainage.
Step 7: At the final support, connect the tubing to a final elbow pointing down (towards the ground). Connect an additional run of tubing from this elbow ‐ you can direct this run of tubing to a nearby flower bed, garden, or just straight to the ground. Attach the male hose thread adapter with cap to the end of this tubing.
Step 8: Use the hole‐punch to create holes for the barbed misters along the tubing line. You'll want to avoid having the misters spray straight down, so angle the holes inward ‐ at about 5 and 7 o'clock (depending on the side you're working with) as you look down the tube.
Don't Stress! Typical systems have a mister every two feet or so, but installations will vary depending on the structure and local conditions. Because you're using drip tubing, it's very easy to move misters around and plug the old holes with goof plugs.
Step 9: Remove the cap from the end of the system and turn the water on at the hose bibb to flush the system while the mister holes are still open. This will ensure that dirt or other particles, as well as any plastic from hole‐punching, are removed from the tubing. Failure to flush the system could lead to clogged misters. Replace the end cap when the tubing has mostly drained.
Step 10: Firmly push misters into the holes. Turn the water back on, sit down and cool off!
Build a Misting System Using PVC Pipe
PVC Mister systems are more heavy‐duty than their drip tubing counterparts. PVC can also be used to create portable, freestanding systems.
Step 1: After you've determined how much PVC pipe is needed (as noted above), use your pipe cutter or hacksaw to cut the pipe into 2 foot sections. Remember also any additional lengths required to reach the water source and for drainage at the end of the line. If you use a hacksaw, deburr the cut using sandpaper or a file to prevent PVC particles from entering the line.
Step 2: Begin putting together the pipe runs. At this point you're only joining together the two‐foot pieces of pipe and the misting connectors to form the four (or more) "sides" of the system ‐ they'll be connected together with elbows once they're up.
- Clean the ends of the pipe and the connector with primer first, then glue them together using PVC cement. To learn more about gluing PVC, check out our video!
- Pay close attention to the orientation of the misting connectors as you glue them to create your runs. All of the nozzles in a given run need to be aligned.
Step 3: Loosely install the first pipe hanger or other support and note its height (the last support will need to be 1" below this for drainage). You don't want to make the supports tight quite yet, because you'll want to be able to turn the pipes inside of them until they're pointed in the right direction. Add a few more loose supports some distance away until you have enough to hold the pipe.
Step 4: Turn the pipe in the supports until the misters are pointing where they need to: about 5 and 7 o'clock depending on which side of the structure you're working on. You don't want the misters pointed straight down, but angled in a bit towards the structure. Once the pipes are oriented correctly, fully tighten the supports and add more at 2 foot intervals on the line to prevent sagging. Do this for each run of pipe.
Pro Tip: Remember that the final pipe support needs to be hung at least 1" lower than the first pipe support ‐ this will help the system drain when necessary.
Step 5: Once all the pipes have been angeled and secured on/around the structure, you can join them together with elbows. Clean the open end of pipe and both elbow ends with primer, and apply glue to the pipe and the elbow. Carefully push and twist the elbow into place, aligning it with the other pipe end; do not move the pipe itself. Once both ends of pipe have been secured in the elbow, move to the next joint location.
Step 6: With the hanging pipes securely in place and connected with elbows, prime and glue downward‐pointing elbows at the beginning and end of the system for the water supply connection and the end drain.
Step 7: To the elbow at the end of the system, prime and glue a length of pipe for drainage. To the end of this pipe, prime and glue the Slip × MIPS Male Adapter (you won't need the cap until after flushing the system). The ambitious may want to use more pipe and fittings to run this drain to a flower bed, garden or other area ‐ but it's fine to just let it run to the ground.
Step 8: Connect the Slip × FHT Female Hose Adapter to your hose bibb. Hopefully you measured things out beforehand and know the length of pipe you'll need to reach this faucet connection from that first pipe support. Depending on the layout of the structure and system, you may need to use additional elbows and a short horizontal length of pipe to reach the female hose adapter.
Step 9: After you've figured out how best to reach the hose adapter at the hose bibb, prime and glue the necessary pieces together. This assembly will be glued to the Slip end of the hose adapter.
Step 10: Consult your PVC cement label for the recommended curing time ‐ typically 24 hours. We highly recommend letting the PVC fully cure before flushing the system. Flush the system by removing all mister nozzles, turning on the water and letting it flow through the pipes for a minute or two. When done, attach the FIPS Threaded Cap and replace all mister nozzles. It is finished!
Keep in mind that the above are only general instructions for basic systems. By incorporating valves, tees and other fittings, you can achieve a more complex layout and a highly customizable experience (like being able to operate only parts of the system at a time depending on the crowd, situation, etc). PVC and drip tubing are pretty forgiving materials, with any missteps or damage easily repaired. So feel free to experiment, and keep cool!