Micro Irrigation Maintenance & Troubleshooting FAQ’s
What is the problem when the drippers or micro sprinklers have uneven or no flow at the end of the drip line?
First check for clogged a dripper or faulty pressure regulator, then check to see if you have too many drippers and/or micro sprinklers on the drip line. The maximum flow recommended is 220 GPH.
Why does water leak between the threaded fittings on my drip system?
Make sure that you are not mixing two types of threads (hose thread with pipe thread), such as connecting hose thread (MHT or FHT) to pipe thread (FPT or MPT). Example: If you connect a hose thread swivel adaptor with a pipe thread pressure regulator, water will leak between the connection, and Teflon tape will not solve the problem. The same will happen if you connect a hose thread pressure regulator with a pipe thread filter. So make sure to use the same thread on your installation.
Why is water leaking from the hole in the pressure regulator?
Water may leak from the hole if the pressure regulator is installed before (upstream of) the timer or valve, if there are too few drippers on the zone, or if dirt is accumulating below the pressure regulator washer. Water may also leak from the hole if the static water pressure is above 100 psi. The first step is to remove the washer and to clean the regulator by rinsing it under running water.
Why are some of my drippers or micro sprinklers popping out of drip tubing?
The first step is to check the pressure regulator to see if it is malfunctioning. Attach a pressure gauge at the end of the line and see what pressure you have. If the pressure is above or more than the pre-set limit of the 25 PSI pressure regulator, then the problem is with the pressure regulator.
You also may have used a faulty, incorrect, or worn punch tool, causing the drippers or micro sprinklers to be installed improperly.
Why do I have clogged drippers and what steps can I take to clear them?
To prevent the drippers or micro sprinklers from plugging make sure to use a proper filter. If you do find clogged drippers, here is something to try: first install a filter with a minimum of 150 mesh. Second, open the end of the line and flush the line after adding a filter, then pressurize the system and while the water is on, hold your finger over the dripper outlet for a few seconds. This “back flushing” will usually work.
What steps to take if the drippers and micro sprinklers have calcium deposits (white color buildup)?
You have hard water that may need a treatment. Option 1 is to add a fertilizer injector and to inject a solution to clean the system. You also can remove the dripper or micro sprinkler from the line and soak for 24 hours in a chlorine solution.
What is a Drip Tape?
Drip tape is a flat tape with drippers pre-inserted in a spacing of 12″ to 18″. The drip tape expands when filled with water and is ideal for use in vegetable gardens for row crops, or where total saturation of coverage is desired. The drip tape is used with special drip tape fittings. Drip tape fittings are different in design from those used with drip tubing in that they work with a twisting lock device rather than with compression.
Where should I use Micro sprinklers?
Micro sprinklers are designed for placement in both new and existing landscapes, flowerbeds, or any areas where there are many plants spaced closely together. Micro sprinklers are ideal for use on difficult terrain such as on slopes, in oddly shaped areas, and in orchards, greenhouses, and nurseries. They are also a good choice to irrigate plants in sandy soils. Micro-sprinklers operate at low pressure and have a wide range of flow rates (7 to 32 GPH) and diameters (3 to 40′). Micro sprinklers have small droplets and a low application rate. Micro-sprinklers can prevent plant stress by maintaining low water tension in the soil.
Reminder to Winterize Your Irrigation System
If it’s the time of year again to prepare your system for the winter, please review this article to make sure that you follow all the steps necessary to avoid damage to your system. All sprinkler or drip systems that utilize valves, filters, plastic fittings, PVC pipe, poly pipe, or drip hoses can easily burst if water freezes inside any of these components. This can prove costly to replace or repair.
Winterizing a sprinkler or drip system will take about fifteen minutes to an hour, and is best done before the first freeze. A little of your time will result in a low maintenance irrigation system that will reduce the need for replacing frozen parts.
In extremely cold winters, freezing temperatures can severely damage your irrigation system and all the main water lines.
The goal in winterizing an irrigation system is to shut off the water supply to the system, and flush all of the water that is left in the system from the backflow device, valves, filters, main lines, sub-lateral lines, sprinklers, drippers, and drip line.
One way to make sure that the system will not freeze (flat terrain) is to install automatic drain valves in the lowest point of the system. With automatic drain valves it is not necessary to blow out the sprinkler lines with compressed air. The drain valve assures that any water in the line will drain out.
What steps do I need to take in early fall to protect my system in the winter?
Step 1: When freezing weather is anticipated, simply turn off your main water supply to the irrigation system and make sure that the backflow device, valves, filter, pressure regulator, pipe, sprinklers, drip hose, and drippers are free of water.
Step 2: After the main water supply is shut down, run the timer/ controller through its normal watering cycle. This will allow each of the valves to open and relieve water pressure on the main line and valves. Allow the lines to drain slightly. After the timer/controller runs through its cycles, turn the controller off, or to Rain Off position.
Step 3: Through the height of winter leave the system off and drained. Water your plants with a hose only. In most cases, there is enough moisture in the ground from rain to sustain the plants during the extreme winter months.
The parts of the irrigation system that need to be drained:
Draining the main line: Some irrigation systems have manual drain valves or automatic spring-loaded drain valves at the end system that may not be installed properly and sometimes will not guarantee that the main line will be thoroughly drained. Other probabilities are that the ground may not be flat or the drain valve may not be at the lowest point of the system. If the main line is installed below the ground, the only way to make sure that the system is drained of water is to use air pressure to flush the system.
Valve assemblies such as battery operated controllers or AC valves with a filter and pressure regulator:
If the entire assembly can be easily removed from the pipe, it may be simple to store the assembly unit from the controller to the pressure regulator inside for the winter. If removing the filter assembly or valve assembly is not practical, the valve bonnet should be loosened or removed to make sure that the water from the top of the diaphragm and the filter cap are drained.
Drip Irrigation Maintenance
Inspect drippers, micro sprinklers and micro tubing periodically to insure that no drippers are clogged, or that any of the micro tubing is out of place.
Filter screens should be flushed and cleaned at least once a month depending on water quality. Checking the filter one week after installation should give you an idea on how often to schedule cleaning.
Drip tubing should also be flushed periodically; again, water quality will determine the frequency of flushing.
During freezing weather, we recommend draining your poly tubing or rolling it up and storing it.
During freezing weather, we recommend removing the battery-operated controller, if installed, for the season and storing it indoors.
Remove end caps or open hose ends to flush the line once a year.
As your landscape matures, you may need to add, change or remove drippers or micro sprinklers.
Drip tubing and micro tubing
First disconnect the drip tubing with the swivel adaptor from the filter assembly and make sure to wrap the swivel adapter or the connection to the filter assembly with a plastic bag to prevent dirt and contaminates from entering the drip tubing. If the drip tubing is installed above the ground, open all the ends of the drip tubing and allow the water to drain. Then lift the drip hose from the connection of the filter assembly, a few feet at a time and section-by-section, making sure that any water left in the drip tubing or micro tubing will drain out. After you finish draining the drip tubing and the micro tubing, make sure to close the ends of the drip tubing using the hose ends.