One of the tougher tasks when installing a drip irrigation system is pushing those fittings into the tubing. For someone who’s lost hand strength (due to arthritis or just getting older), the task can be extremely challenging. Luckily, we have a way to make it much easier. In fact, when I install systems myself, I always use this method—even though I don’t have arthritis and am at the not-so-old age of 33—because it really makes it easy.
What do You Need?
A cup and some hot water. Yep, that’s it! What I do is put some hot water in a cup or thermos, and right before I insert the fitting in the tubing, I dunk the end of the tubing in the hot water for a count of 10 (can be longer if needed). The heat helps relax the tubing, and that will help you easily push the fitting right into the tubing. A word of caution here—for the sake of safety, don’t use boiling hot water, as we wouldn’t want you to get burned.
A tip: For anyone installing a large system, I recommend putting some water in a thermos so you have a supply of hot water close by as you work, since the water in a cup will cool and lose its effectiveness. Having a thermos next to you prevents you from having to go back inside your house to get more hot water and helps speed up your project.
Some of our customers have shared that they use a hair dryer to heat up the ends of the tubing before inserting a fitting. I am sure this works great too. In full disclosure, I haven’t tried it, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. The key here is to heat the end of the tubing so it “softens” up. I am sure there are other ways to make pushing fittings into drip tubing easy, and I would love to hear about them. If you’ve got a tip on this, please leave a comment below.
Heating the tubing works great if you are using perma-loc or barbed fittings. If you are using compression fittings, the only thing we have ever had luck with is using a little bit of dishwashing soap to lubricate the outside of the tubing. One word of caution—be careful not to get the soap on the fitting or on your hands, as everything becomes slick at that point.
Written by Mike Ricker | Mike Ricker is always looking for ways to make drip irrigation easier for everyone. If you found this article useful or have a great tip please pass it on to Mike at: Mike Ricker on Google+