Drip Tubing FAQs

Drip tubing

Drip Tubing FAQs

Why is a drip tubing system a good way of watering?

A drip tubing system saves water because it delivers water directly to the roots of plants where it is needed.  It delivers a slow, constant, steady supply of water to your plants, which is good for them and prevents mold and disease.  The systems are easy to use, expand, and maintain.  In fact, once a drip system is installed, you can forget about it and enjoy healthy plants.

What is the difference between a drip tubing system and a soaker hose system?

Both systems deliver water to plants at low pressure. A drip tubing system can more accurately put water exactly where you need it.  Soaker hoses are a little harder to control because water drips out the entire length of the hose, making it likely that you will be delivering water in places where it is not necessarily needed.  A soaker hose is less expensive than a drip system.

How hard is drip tubing to install?

To install drip tubing, simply connect it to an outside faucet and unroll the hose. Loop the tubes around your plants, turn on the water, and walk away.  That’s it!! A drip tubing system requires a little more work, but can be installed without special tools or glue, and usually without a shovel.  You need to decide on the emitters that you will use and where they will be located.  Then it is just a matter of connecting the pipes to the emitters, connecting the system to a water supply, and turning on the water.

Why should I use a drip tubing system?

In addition to saving water and growing healthier plants, drip irrigation cuts down on garden pests that thrive in water and fungal diseases that spread by water movement.  Also, by delivering water only to the plants you want to grow, you will also notice a reduction in the number of weeds that grow in your garden.

My garden layout is sophisticated.  Can I still use a drip tubing system?

Drip tubing systems are very versatile in terms of installation.  They can be adapted to work in just about any garden layout – from the very simple to the more sophisticated.  Drip tubing systems can be used in both new and existing landscape areas.  They are a great solution for use on difficult terrains such as slopes, oddly shaped areas, and windy locations.

How long will it take to water my plants?

Every system differs based on your plants, the configuration of the system, the soil you have, and the region in which you live.  In warmer climates, some evaporation can still occur, and you will need to run the water a little longer.  With a little experimentation, you can determine the right length of time.  Stick a wooden dowel down into the roots of one of your plants.  Now run your drip system for about 30 minutes and check the dowel.  If the dowel is wet at the base water has reached the roots.

What is “normal” water pressure for a drip tubing system?

The water pressure in a typical home is around 40 to 60 PSI.  A typical drip tubing system, on the other hand, works best with pressures around 10 to 15 PSI.  The pressure regulator in your system is what reduces the higher water pressure to the correct level.  Note that the pressure regulator only changes the pressure in the system and that it does not affect the water pressure in your home.  You can purchase a pressure gauge, or contact your water department, to verify the water pressure in your home.

What is a flow disk?

The pressure regulator in your tubing system reduces the force of the water.  It is the component that makes drip tubing irrigation a low-pressure system.  A flow disc reduces the amount of water flowing through a pipe.  It regulates the amount of water that flows through your system.  You can use a flow disc to equalize the amount of water flowing through various parts of your system, or to reduce the amount of water delivered to a particular plant.

Will emitters clog?

All water has some impurities.  Most of the particles are so small that you do not even notice them, but over time they can accumulate and cause clogs.  Sometimes a large particle will enter your system from broken pipes or incorrectly positioned emitters.  A filter on your drip tubing system will help to prevent this from happening.

What is a calcium filter?

Most municipal water has calcium in it.  You have probably seen calcium round the faucets in your home.  It appears as a white residue.  Like dirt particles, calcium deposits, over time, can clog your system.     A calcium filter helps to reduce the amount of calcium in your system and can reduce the chances of clogged emitters.

Will a drip tubing system work with well water or water pumped from a pond or lake?

Water from a well or a pond is more likely to have debris and minerals in it that can clog your system.  When using well or pond water, be sure to use the appropriate filters.

What do I do if my emitters are clogged?

Some emitters are designed so that they can be taken apart and cleaned.  If calcium is a problem, soaking the emitters in some CLR or vinegar should eliminate the clog.  Fortunately, emitters are inexpensive and easily replaced.  If you notice that your emitters are clogging a lot, then you might want to spend some time identifying the source of the clog.  You may need to install filters.

Can I install emitters underground?

It is probably not a good idea to bury emitters as they will likely clog.  Emitters should be installed slightly above ground level with the outlets pointed away from the ground.  You can cover emitters with light mulch.

Can I bury the tubes?

Most manufacturers recommend that the tubes be installed on top of the ground.  You can hide them by covering them with a layer of mulch.  You can bury the tubes if you wish, but your system will be harder to maintain, and it is easy to damage a buried tube with a shovel.

What happens if I break a tube?

tubes are easy to replace – especially if they are not buried.  To repair a tube, you cut out the broken portion and connect the two pieces together using a compression coupling.  For small holes, you can use a “goof plug” to seal up the leak.

Are compression fittings hard to use?

Not at all, compression fittings are easy to use.  Compression fittings fit over the outside of the tubing, and you simply insert the tube into the compression fitting.  It might be hard to get it in, in which case rock the hose back and forth, while pushing it into the fitting.  Compression fitting, when properly installed, rarely come off.  If you need to take a compression fitting off, gently rock the fitting back and forth while trying to remove it.  To be honest, it is probably easier to simply use a new fitting.

Are hose clamps necessary?

If the pressure in your system is than 20 PSI, you can probably get by without using hose clamps.  Clamps are inexpensive, and although they are yet one more thing to install, they can make the installation safe from failure.

Can I run a drip tubing system up a hill?

Remember that drip systems use low pressure, and it is water pressure that causes water to flow through the tubes.  It is not recommended to run a drip tubing system up a hill as there may not be sufficient pressure to push the water up the hill.  The best installation method is to run the tubes horizontally across the slope of the hill, with the water source at the top.

How long will a typical drip tubing system last?

Under normal circumstances, a typical drip system can last up to eight years.

Drip tubing systems are designed to withstand harsh conditions and to be virtually maintenance free.  They are made from high quality, durable plastics and are resistant to the damaging effects of the sun.

Can I water my lawn with a drip tubing system?

Drip systems are not designed to water a large surface area such as a lawn.  You could use it for spot watering a small repair to lawn.

Will the performance of my drip tubing system decrease over time?

If your system is not working as well as it was when it was new, then the tubes might be getting clogged, or it may have developed a leak.  Sometimes couplings break or become loose over time.  So make sure you have the appropriate filters in place and regularly check your system for leaks.

What should I do during the winter?

Like any system that involves water, it is important to protect it from freezing.  Water expands as it freezes which can break the components in your system.  When the watering season is over, and before temperatures drop below freezing, drain all water from the tubes and disconnect it from the outside faucet.  Remove all end caps and allow the water to drain from the tubes.  If possible leaves the caps off for the duration of the winter.  You can use an air compressor to blow out all water from the system.  Timers, regulators, filters and backflow preventers should be removed and stored in above freezing temperatures.

Is a pressure regulator necessary?

The water pressure in your home is too high for use in a drip tubing system.  You almost always need a pressure regulator to lower the water pressure to a level suitable for use.

Drip Tubing

Please continue reading my Drip Irrigation – 3 product review and visit my Water Efficient Irrigation Store.  Also see my other review posts for this green living product: 

Ten drip irrigation best features.

How a drip irrigation system works.

Ten reasons why drip and micro irrigation systems are green.

Drip irrigation tips and tricks.

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