Drip Irrigation – Basic Maintenance
And Troubleshooting Tips

Manifold Assembly

Most of the problems with manifolds have to do with installing components in the wrong order, with wrong thread combinations or because the component was installed backwards and the water flow direction is wrong. Of course there is always the chance of a defective product. If you check all of these things you can figure out most of the problems yourself pretty easily.

1. Pressure Regulators: Pressure regulators seem to have only a few things which happen to them. The reason there are not many is because of the high quality components we stock. We have seen lesser quality products with many more problems, which we refuse to sell.

Breaking: This can happen if you try to screw the preset regulator on really tight, don’t! The regulator is made of two pieces that are sonically wielded together. If you try to tighten a preset regulator too much it will crack, that’s it, no doubt about it! So don’t use tools -only tighten the pressure regulator with the strength of your hands.

Leaking: There is a small hole in the side of the preset regulators which is needed for the unit to work properly. Sometimes you will see a little water drip out and this is normal. If you get a steady stream out of this hole try to seal it with your finger then let go.

Do this a few times and see if it stops it. Most times this will work; it is just the new diaphragm seating with a little help from you. Also try turning on and off the system a few times. If you cannot get the leak to stop check the water flow direction! If the water flow direction is correct and the above tricks do not work contact us because it is defective. Take note: defects are far and few between! One of the solutions proposed above will likely solve the problem.

2. Backflow Devices: The Hose Bibb Vacuum Breaker could have some water leak out of it during normal operation; once again it should not be a large amount or a steady stream. If this happens try turning the system on and off. Also check for the correct water flow direction. Be careful when you install the backflow because if you try to tighten it too much it will crack, too!

Take note that when the system is turned off and the pressure drops the backflow will open up and release water. If your system tubing is above the level of the backflow then you will get quite a bit of water coming out of it. This is how the backflow works and is part of the normal operation.

3. Filters: Filters should have no problems -just be sure to use enough Teflon tape on the threads for connections to components which DO NOT have “O” rings or rubber washers. Three to four wraps of the Teflon tape should work but a few more, if needed, are OK too. Just try not to overdo the tape as an excessive amount can cause the components it is screwed into to break. Be sure to keep the tape out of the water passages as they can break free over time and plug the filter.

Once again make sure the water flow direction is correct! If the filter leaks from the center of the body, try to tighten it by screwing it together. If this does not work open it up and check to make sure the large “O” ring is installed. If the cap on the bottom leaks, try to tighten it and also look for a washer in it.

4. Valves: As always check the water flow direction. This is the most common mistake made. There should be an arrow molded into the body of the valve on the outside of the threads.

Also check the section below for controllers.

If you have leaks at the water connections try using a little more Teflon tape and always make sure you are using a component with pipe threads! Be sure to keep the tape out of the water passages as they can break free over time and plug the valve.

5. Polytube Connectors: Be really careful that you are using the correct thread combination here; this is a common problem because of the different types of polytube connectors. Remember there is hose thread and pipe thread connectors.

Also make sure the compression or insert end is the correct size for the polytube you are using. We carry multiple tubing and connector sizes so match them up correctly. Compression fittings are rated by the outside diameter of the polytube and Insert fittings are rated for the inside diameter. If you need help feel free to contact us!

Filtration

Filters should be checked and flushed on a regular basis. How often you should do this depends on how much debris your filter takes out of the water, in other words how dirty your water is. When your system is new, check after running it a few days to see what kind of dirt has been caught in the filter.

If there is really nothing, go ahead and check again in a month or two. Just make sure to take out the screen and rinse it out under clean water when it needs it. This will keep your system running smoothly for a long time. Remember filtration is one of the most important parts of a drip system, treat it as such!

Drippers

Drippers really do not need any kind of regular maintenance. There are models which come apart and can be cleaned. To do this take them apart and rinse under clean water. For stubborn dirt use an old toothbrush.

Sometimes drippers will just get clogged up with hard water deposits or dirt and it is almost always is easier to just replace them than to clean them. Most drippers will give you a few years before any kind of problems arise.

Microsprinklers

Microsprinklers are like drippers as they do not require any special maintenance unless there is a problem. One of the things you will run into most often is the need to adjust the spray direction if they have moved.

The other thing may be hard water deposits on the deflectors or nozzles. On some sprinklers you can clean this off and others may need to be replaced occasionally. Occasionally does not mean every year or even two, it all depends on your water quality. Just check how they work every once in awhile.

Controllers

Battery Operated Hose Bibb Controllers need very little beyond taking them inside during the winter and checking the condition of the batteries. We suggest replacing the batteries every year just to make sure they will always be good. It is worth the small investment!

Valves

Valves can be affected by debris in the water which could collect over time. This can be fixed by disassembling the valve and cleaning it. All the valves we sell can be taken apart and cleaned. We do suggest to use the “blow-a-part” drawing in the troubleshooting section.

This will show you the way the parts go back together. BE CAREFUL!! There are some very small parts and all of them are needed to make the valve work correctly.

Soaker Hose & Dripper Line

Soaker hose should not have many problems; the biggest thing is good filtration to keep the drippers from clogging. The drippers cannot be replaced and nothing can be inserted into the hose walls.

The most common problem with soak hose is with longer single lines. Here there is a tendency for the line to “Snake”. This is where the line will be laid out straight and then after a day or two the line is not straight but curvy with drippers no longer next to plants.

This is caused by the expansion and contraction of heat and cold. To keep this from happening, we suggest using tubing stakes or soil staples to maintain the original placement. Dripper line can have the same “Snakeing” problems which can be solved the same as the above solution for soakerhose.

We would suggest that with dripper line you look into using one of the flush valves to keep fine sediment from building up in the lines.

Misting

The best piece of advice we can offer is to make sure and use a 140 mesh filter for the misters. The water outlet orifices are very small and need good filtration. If you do have a problem with a mister clogging the misters can be taken apart and cleaned.

Winterizing

The only time you need to do anything for winter is if your area freezes or has hard frost. What you need to worry about is the water freezing in any of the components.

To fix this all you need to do is empty out the water from your system, this can be done any number of ways. Much of how you do this depends on your system configuration and your own preferences. Here are some basics.

First you will want to open something on your manifold assembly or to disconnect it if you will be taking it inside for the winter. This is done to allow air into the system to replace the water you will be draining out.If you have a controller on your manifold we would suggest taking the complete assembly inside a garage or storage area.

Next open all the 1/2″ polytube line ends and allow the water to drain out. If this will not drain all the water you can use a LOW PRESSURE air hose or you can even blow into the tube to push out the remaining water. You do not need to get every little bit of water out, just so the hose is empty. Remember water expands when it freezes, so it could split the tube if enough is left inside.

Once you have all the water out, replace the line ends so the ends are sealed, you do not want dirt getting in through the ends. If you have removed the head assembly to be stored inside, you need to seal off the polytube end that was attached to the manifold.

Like before, we want to make sure no dirt will get into the system. If you do not remove the manifold make sure to drain out the filter canister, valves and other components which may hold water. In the spring, make sure to flush out the system just like a new system.

By doing so you should have no problems.

Dripper Watering Schedule

Watering Frequency

Micro Sprinkler Watering Schedule

Watering Frequency