Anyone else annoyed with their drip system/sprinklers?

nmnative(7 NM)June 11, 2003

We moved into a new home 3 years ago and I was excited to have my sprinklers and drip irrigation put on a timer. But it has been one problem after another. The drippers clog or one blows off the line causing the rest of the drippers not to get water supply. I was constantly checking them. Now the timer seems to be working but the water doesn't come on automatically. Before this I had a faucet timer connected to an impulse sprinkler. I had a small yard and it worked great for me for 5 years! It seems when I really need it to work (when I am out of town) it is always malfunctioning.

To top it all off I just attended the NM State Master Gardeners Conference in Albq. I attended a wonderful lecture on Permaculture where the lady said she only waters with a sprinkler and only needs to do it about 7 times a year (she lives in Los Alamos)

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"The drippers clog or one blows off the line causing the rest of the drippers not to get water supply."

You just need a filter upstream of the system to minimize clogging, and a pressure regulator there too to prevent the blow-offs.

As for the water not coming on ... check the valve to make sure it's not clogged or rusted.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2003 at 8:31AM
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nmnative(7 NM)

Guess I should have given more info. My system was installed by pros. I assume it does have filters and pressure regulator. Our water is hard and it gets hard water deposits which clog. Also, dirt or mulch tends to get into the openings. I am in the process of putting all the drippers up on little stakes or linking them up on the plant to hopefully stop that. I saw a small soaker hose and am wondering if I might replace the high maintence drippers with that? It seems like it might have less problems.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2003 at 9:11AM
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jkillackey(central ca)

Yes! I am more than annoyed with drip system watering. even with filters and everything else I've done. this summer I'm taking the drip lines out and going to regular sprinklers. after 5 years of problems I give up. I did see a fairly new product that has the emitters "built in" to the line, that is said to not clog.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2003 at 1:28AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I rarely have problems with my drippers, but I have had nothing but problems with the soaker hoses. If you think your drippers clog easily.... I found that if you replace your drippers every year, and use 1gal/hr drippers minimum, you shouldn't have very many problems. The 1/2 gal/hr. drippers have a tendency to clog more. Also, your drippers should stay on with a pressure regulator.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2003 at 1:05AM
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phylphun(z7-8 TX)

Son in Northern California has had similar complaints. Recently he purchased a system called AccuRain (San Jose, CA, mfgr, sorry don't remember name). It shoots water overhead to connect w/ specific spots, makes several passes (you program into a grapefruit shaped control box). Fascinating to watch - you can sit & watch the waterspouts shooting overhead, not a drop on you.

Sorry to say it's pretty pricey, in $200 range, but it's entertainment too!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2003 at 9:12PM
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nmnative(7 NM)

Thanks for all the responses. I have just about figured out that the 1 gal. per hour heads do seem to clog less-NIL 13 you may have something there. And am trying a different head that is not adjustable, I think the adjustable ones were loosened and that is why they flew off. But after using regular sprinklers with a hose timer that worked all the time and needed no maintence--I am just tired of these. I have a very large yard and don't want the work or expense of changing them out yearly--but I can see that may be what I need. Now my timer is not working and I will have to replace that! Ugh!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2003 at 5:22PM
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We have a problem with hard water also but have solved the clogging problem. To fix the clogging problem we had installed in our system (you can do it yourself) a fertilizer feeder. The kind where you put a fertilizer stick in it and the system dissolves it and distributes the stuff. Well once a month or so we open the fertilizer container and pour in about 2 cups of vinegar, close the container and put on the system. This allows the vinegar to dissolve the hard water deposits and will very lightly acidify your soil...a good thing in high alkaline dessert areas with hard water. It works like a dream.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2003 at 3:37PM
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Ours clog as well. Haven't thought about a filter, but have used the larger heads, does seem to help. My DH just makes it a habit to check everything each season. she only waters with a sprinkler and only needs to do it about 7 times a year Sorry, I don't buy this, unless she truly has a desert yard. Or her plants are getting more water naturally than mine do.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2003 at 12:04PM
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"she only waters with a sprinkler and only needs to do it about 7 times a year" You could do this if you had established landscaping, exactly the right plants, and thorough water harvesting. Her "with a sprinkler" probably is a deep soaking with a low-volume sprinkler she moves oftne.

I found that the perforated "soaker" lines clog badly and changed to pressure-compensated drippers that have been trouble-free since I put in pressure control things (they were popping off previously). I use 1, 3, and 1-10GPH variable drippers.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2003 at 1:27PM
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wrbt(8 AZ)

My drip system works pretty well. Every once in a while an emmiter clogs but the plant will tell me. Maybe with new plants something could die with a clog but established stuff will show signs of stress with enough time for you to deal with it. I don't stake 'em but I do prop them up into the plant when possible.

What I always wonder is if I'm giving all the plants the right amount. Most of what I have on drippers are low water bushes like lantana, mex birds, yellow bells, red fairy duster, cape honeysuckle, etc. What sort of day/duration schedule do you guys use for these? I know it varies by situation but I'd be curious to hear a sampling of drip schedules.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2003 at 1:00PM
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I have my low water bushes on 2x/week in summer, about 20-30 minutes. Back off to 1x/week when it gets colder or rains start. Most of my heads a 1gph and the established plants seem to do well on this schedule. Of course any new plantings need extra hand watering for awhile.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2003 at 10:29PM
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I am using a mix of 1 and 3 GPH drippers, and 0-10 GPH emitters ... depending on the water needs of the plant.

It's a manual system - I water for an hour or so when the moisture meter says it's dry, and the "indicator" plant is looking a bit wilty.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2003 at 8:05AM
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This is the first year I'm trying drippers, but I'm using about 20 2 gph drippers which is more than recomended for the small $20 hose timer i have. I took out the pressure regulator because not enough water seemed to be coming out. I tried four different regulators and even the widest one was too constricting. I didn't want to leave it on for an hour a day, but just 15 minutes a day. It seems to be working great with none blown off. I don't image the 2 gph drippers will clog easy either.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2004 at 12:30PM
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Istanbuljoy(Z 5 CO)

I just read this has been a busy work (like the real kind, not the garden kind) summer for me, so I am catching up on all the tips and talk.

I put my first ever drip in all by myself this spring. My Hubby was so proud of me and I was too. In the catalog I found the emitter tubing, or hose that has the emitters built into it. I ran out of this tubing and went to sprinkler shops to get more. They did not carry this kind, but had laser tubing which is hose with slits cut every so many inches. I thought I would see which was better, so I bought some of the laser tubing with slits every 12 inches (the emitter tubing has emitters every 12 as well). To regulate GPH the you can put a little regualtor at the start of each laser tubing run. What I found out was...the emitter tubing was far superior. The laser tubing toward the end of the line would hardy drip and in some drip. So, I then took off some regulators and got a better drip. Then I ended up taking off all the regualtors so the drip would match what my emitters were doing.

I went back to the sprinkler place and the lady had ordered emitter tubing after she had heard me talk about it.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2004 at 3:10PM
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coronado(z9 Phoenix, AZ)

wow, a lot to think of regarding your posting. I'm in the midst of planning a drip system for my whole property and it's pretty intimidating, especially after all the trouble I had installing the sprinklers for the lawn. I'm glad to see that most people seem to think the 1gph emitters are better because those are the one's I've already bought. I hope your system is doing better. Best-Lou

    Bookmark   August 19, 2004 at 7:43PM
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I used to have many problems with my drip lines clogging until I removed all the drip heads. I now use and have for 6 years no drip heads. I control the water flow at the valve. The ones that have a knob on top. Nothing to blow off nothing to clog nothing to replace. My guess is about 4gph flow and run system for 2 hours every 6 days in summer.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2004 at 3:04PM
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kns1313(NM mountains)

If your emitters are failing:
1. Keep your drip heads above your mulch to keep the dirt out.
2. If it is a new system, flush the lines before installing the dripper heads.

I have installed about 1000' of 1/2" tubing and another 1500' of 1/4" tubing to my approximately 800 dripper heads. A rather large system on four zones. Three years ago (first year), I had two dozen or so failures, but I didn't keep the heads off the ground. Now I do, and failures do not occur. Then again, I also switched manufacturers for the replacements, but the original ones not replaced are still doing fine. I use 1/2, 1, and 2 gph drippers, they all work equally well.

I also had used a soaker hose, the 1/4" kind with a hole every foot or so. NOT!!! The holes clog and was totally ineffectual. I pulled almost all of it out, I have a few sections that are still working, but they are only watering very xeric plants that get enough water if even 2/3 of the holes were clogged.

My system uses cistern water (10,000 gal tank buried in the front yard, water pulled out with a shallow-well pump), so hardness isn't a problem. The pump puts out 30-60 psi, I do not reduce it, and the only time an emitter has blown off it has been because of operator error. If you are using well water, then you may be getting sand and junk inside your lines clogging your emitters. Install a filter and you should be in business.

Incidentally, I live at 7000' just east of Albuquerque, and the area around my house looks like a dense jungle of nothing but native plants with penstemons (at least 8 varieties), coneflower, chocolate flower, hyssops, yarrow, yucca, golden currant, sand cherry, salvias, thymes (non-native, but I wanted the groundcover), sumacs, and at least 20 other native species, all irrigated by emitters. Wouldn't do it any other way!


    Bookmark   August 23, 2004 at 4:55PM
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james_m_clark(6b NJ, Essex)

"the lady said she .. only needs to do it about 7 times a year."

I've noticed that in NM (or was it AZ?) they have two basic styles of landscaping. One has beds of decorative rock and gravel and native plants (cacti, mainly). The other tries to force a style of landscaping on the environment like we have here in NJ.

The latter water every day. I think "the lady" has the native-style landscaping.

I have a drip system for a small potted herb garden. The pots have separate drip lines with separate flow-control buttons, so that if a squirrel pulls one loose, the others are OK. Nearly all the drip lines are terminated on plastic stakes made for that. I have a few 'in-line' drippers, but those lines are twist-tied onto stakes.

I've had a few drippers get clogged, but it doesn't happen very often. At first, I tried tee-ing two dripper lines to two stakes off one flow-control button, but the flow didn't often divide evenly, so I went to one drip stake per flow control.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 9:00PM
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ljrmiller(z7 NV)

My drip system is "black spaghetti"--1/4" soaker hose strung all over the place (Lowe's carries it in the section with all the Raindrip stuff). If something blows out, I just find the leak and patch it or replace the bad section, because I don't bury any of it. The plants cover it up during the growing season, so it only looks strange in winter--as if black spaghetti rained down all over my yard.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 11:45PM
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jimmydo2(z9 Calif)

I dunno if you are still watching this thread, but

Two Years ago, creatvinaz Z9 Arizona, posted that he is using the filter applicator, that "The kind where you put a fertilizer stick in it and the system dissolves it and distributes the stuff." I have been looking all over for one of these
Jim Barnhart

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 9:43PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

I can sure relate. I've had some drip battles over time. Most of those problems went away when I quit shopping home depot and Loes for drip parts and found a company that sells to the farmers. These parts sell for the same OR LESS than the ones at the retail store. and they work better, and hold up longer.
even the tubing is a better quality.
Of course, the coyotes still like to chew on them like chew toys. GRRRRRRRRRRRR but I fixed that by half burying a bowl and putting a high volume emitter over it so that they have water to drink without ripping my lines.
a filter and a pressure regulator are a must. I drop my drips down to 15 pounds of pressure. I also use all 1 gal emitters or greater.
I also use a drip "tape" for produce. It is a tube with built in emitter ports. The brand I use is called Turbo Tape. They have several grades based on the thickness of the wall of the tube. I only use the thickest one so that it can take more handling and I can keep it up on top of my mulch, instead of burring it.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 5:38PM
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SoftMentor, What company are you talking about???

    Bookmark   July 10, 2005 at 5:28PM
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"I've noticed that in NM (or was it AZ?) they have two basic styles of landscaping. One has beds of decorative rock and gravel and native plants (cacti, mainly). The other tries to force a style of landscaping on the environment like we have here in NJ."

It's worth mentioning, though, that the decorative rock and cactus approach in its usual incarnation is just about as alien to the southwest as the lush lawn approach. At least, I haven't seen anything like it out of town here in NM.

OTOH, I doubt there's anything close to your average lawn occurring naturally in NJ, either...

Patrick Alexander

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 12:14AM
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zandor(z8 ca)

Drip wisdom:
After reading and experimenting, I've discovered some golden things to save your money and sanity!

1. ONLY use "tortured path" emitters - NOT restrictive types. They are guaranteed to plug.

2. Do NOT connect drip systems directly to high-pressure city water lines, as you'll blast the heads off. You must purchase pressure reducing fittings that either install at the head end or at distribution points (the cheaper ones).

I finally, too, installed the Accurain. They are super, until they get "sick." see my post:

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 11:57AM
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