Troubleshooting your Drip Irrigation System

No drip irrigation system is immune to malfunctions due to normal wear and tear or exceeding the systems limitations. Although your drip irrigation system is virtually worry free, you also need to periodically check all the components to insure that any problems or potential problems are identified and corrected in a timely manner. Here are a few solutions to help you maintain an efficiently operating system when certain issues arise:

Problem: Timer leaks; valve does not open or close.

Solution: Check rubber o-rings and replace as needed. Re-tighten connections by hand only. Check for and clear any debris in the timer. Check the battery and replace if necessary.

Problem: Uneven or no flow at drippers; clogged drippers.

Solution: Check all filters and clean as needed. Make sure that you did not exceed the system's total maximum flow capacity of 30 gph for 1/4 tubing, 200 gph for 1/2 tubing or 480 gph for 3/4 tubing. Make sure that you did not exceed the system's total run length limitations of 30 feet for 1/4 tubing, 200 feet for 1/2 tubing or 480 feet for 3/4 tubing. Check for adequate water flow and water pressure available at the water source. Clean or replace pressure regulator if needed. While the water is on, hold your finger over the dripper outlet for a few seconds. This "back flushing" will often work to reset inconsistent emitters. Clean dripper (cleanable models) and/or replace dripper if necessary.

Problem: Drippers or fittings popping out of tubing.

Solution: Check water pressure past pressure regulator at the end of the mainline tubing run by unscrewing the end cap and attaching a pressure gauge onto the fitting. Recommended pressure is 25 psi. Replace pressure regulator if necessary. Check for and remove any clogs in drippers or fittings. Remove dripper if necessary, plug hole with a goof plug, then reinstall dripper into a cleanly punched hole in the tubing. If dripper is at the end of 1/4 tubing, remove dripper, make a clean cut at the end of the tubing, and reinstall dripper at the end.

Problem: Leaks along tubing; damaged tubing.

Solution: Cut out leaking or damaged section and reattach sections of tubing with a coupler. If tubing damage is caused by rodents, consider additional solutions to repel rodents.

Problem: Fitting separating from tubing; fittings do not fit tubing.

Solution: Push tubing further into or onto compression or barbed fitting. Ensure other types of fittings (like Perma-Loc) are properly attached and secured. Ensure outside diameter (OD) and inside diameter (ID) tubing size is compatible with fitting size.

Problem: Plants appear stressed.

Solution: Check water flow at drippers near plants. Clean, repair or replace all associated components, including tubing and connectors as needed. Adjust dripper flow rates and add more drippers if needed. Adjust watering schedule as needed.

This troubleshooting guide is just a small sample of the issues which may occasionally arise with your system, so make sure to consult drip irrigation experts for more extensive or complicated problem solving services.

Happy Gardening!