Help! Why don't my soaker hoses last?

granburyflowergirl(7)January 12, 2010

I live in North Central Texas and I have a 4 foot planting border around the perimeter of my yard - about 300 linear feet of Roses and Thujas with fruit trees in bump outs about every 15 feet or so. I have been using soaker hoses to water this border for the last few years, but I am having to replace the soaker hoses twice a year as they spring leaks and become useless. I have tried every different brand and type of soaker hose from tape type rolls to the thick rubber ones but none seem to last. At first I thought they were breaking down from the heat so I buried them with mulch but that didn't help, I suspect birds and/or fire ants are tapping into them to get water but I don't know for sure, anyone else run into this?

I went to Home Depot yesterday and bought all the pieces to build a drip system but it added up to almost $400.00! that's enough to replace the soaker hoses for 5 years! So before I commit to the drip irrigation project, I am hoping to get some advice -I appreciate any input!


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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

Don't have experience with the soaker hose problem, but mine don't wear out that quickly so something must be getting to them.

I do know the best time to buy drip system parts is in the fall. You can get them super cheap on clearance and there is usually a good selection left. I got my system at Walmart for as much as 75% off. So if you can get the hoses through one more summer, you can save a lot.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 10:25AM
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Check to see if your soaker hose has a restrictor in place. It should be a plastic "disk" inside the end of the hose (where the gasket typically is located). The restrictor should only have a little hole in it, restricting the water flow through the hose. Without that, the water pressure will burst the hose and cause it to really leak or spray the water really high in the air or both. Of course they should all have these, but some don't for some reason. If yours doesn't have the restrictor, you can cut a small circle from a plastic jug and bore a 3/16 or 5/16 hole in the middle (depending on the length of the hose).


    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 10:58AM
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Carla!!! I never knew that about soaker hoses! Thanks for that bit of info.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 8:56AM
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hitexplanter(8 a)

One more bit of advise is that all soaker and drip systems are designed for under 30 psi. The best way to address this is with a flow regulator at the faucet end. I use static hose bib types that are rated at 15-30 psi. I have several that I use for different parts of the landscape. The hole restrictor will work as a stop gap and I have a soaker hose with one and it still can't control the over 70 psi coming from my hose bib but it does help. Also in a pinch barely turning on the hose bib will also act in the same manner as the small hole washer.
400 dollars seem quite high for what sounds like a small to medium drip system. Unless I knew the size of beds and quantities of parts and types purchased I couldn't tell you if you were over-spending but my guess is that you are. I will try to follow this post and if I can offer any other help please don't be afraid to ask. As long as the packages and parts aren't opened you can return them to Home Depot for a refund or exchange depending on your final choices and needs. In closing I would say the average soaker hoses should last 2-4 years with reasonable care and especially if buried under the mulch. (down side to this method is not knowing the condition of the hose).
Happy Growing David

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 6:18PM
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Thanks everyone for all the good info, I had no idea about the pressure issue but it makes sense...I checked the hoses and none of them had the small hole disk! They really should put something on the packaging to warn you about this (but then I guess they wouldn't make as much $$$ on suckers like me replacing them 2X a year LOL). The ones I have now are all pretty shot so I am going to try the drip...I probably wont need all of the parts I bought at HD, I just didn't realize how quickly all of those .99c pieces add up.

David,I'll take any help I can get!!! The bed is 3-4 foot wide and 300 ft long, it has 17 small fruit trees in bump outs, 61 Emerald green arborvitaes (Thujas) and 51 Knock Out roses evenly spaced in parallel rows over 200ft, then 100 ft of random perennials and annuals in the front mostly Zinias. I went by the book for "DIG" and figured I need 3 separate lines, one for the Thujas and Roses, one just for the trees and one for the flower bed in the front. Looking at my receipt it's the "pressure compensating drippers" that seem to be the main culprit..only 55 cents each but 2 for each Thuja, one for each rose and 6 for each tree = $$$$, I have a color drawing that really helps explain if I can figure out how to post it I will.
thanks, Nik

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 7:39PM
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hitexplanter(8 a)

I don't think I realized the extent of plants. The 6 drippers per each fruit tree seems excessive in the the first few years. The other way around that is to look into micro-sprinklers the attach to the drip hose much like drippers but cover a wider area by spraying water in a 90 or 180 or 360 degree area. If you get the adjustable ones two 180's should do the life of the fruit trees. I would not mix the micro-sprinklers with any drippers in general. It can be done but for the novice setting up drip irrigation for the first time I wouldn't suggest it. Next did you get the 10 pack or largest quantity for the price of all your pressure comp drippers? They do add up and 55 cents is close to retail. The price of the hose and the couplers can get expensive too. If you bought more than 3 100 ft sections you may have been better of looking into a irrigation supply house for all of these including drippers and micro-sprinklers. When I used to set up systems I used to buy in bulk and some of the quantities you are using might work to save some.Buying a package of 100 instead of the packages of 10's at home depot. Look up irrigation or lawn supply stores and see if this is an option in your area. Besides they often can give more useful advise on set up and installations than a typical Home Depot.
Lets start with these areas and see if this is making sense to you and if there are areas that we can bring cost down and make a better less complicated system at the same time. You could consider giving me an inventory of part from your HD receipt and maybe we can pare down or I can see some obvious cost savings to what you have bought thus far.
One more thing to keep in mind. (Not all drip hose and couplers come in the same size and this is a method these companies use to get you to stay to a brand). The typical dig diagrams are often overkill or can be designed differently to achieve the same or even better results (remember they are drawings for a novice and they are also trying to sell all the product they can) sounds cynical but it is true. Talk with you soon and lets see what we can do with this. Happy Growing David

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 9:35AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I've used the same soaker hoses for years. I never turn the water on harder than a trickle. By trickle I have checked it and it comes out at 1 cup per minute. That is 3.75 gallons per hour. I have about 100 feet of soaker and leave the water running for days at a time. The idea is to moisten the soil evenly to a very deep level. My theory is the constantly moist soil grows beneficial fungi needed to soften the soil. Back to the issue...if you decide to do this you don't need the flow restrictor in the hose.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 11:58PM
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I don't know about Texas, but here in Arizona, they recommend 1 dripper per foot of crown diameter on trees, arranged around the dripline--that is, under the edge of the crown. A big fruit tree could have 20 or more drippers! When installing drip watering for trees, always put in a big main line to allow for future growth.

Kevin : )

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 3:02AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I had to buy soaker every 2 years or so. Last year, I bought a 75ft soaker from Wal Mart which was different. It was made out of fabric instead of rubber. It sure is a lot easier to pick up and store it. It seems that it'd last a lot longer than the rubber type but time will tell.

I live on a corner lot with sidewalk meaning that I have that 120x6ft strip area to water. I don't think I have restrictor in the soaker hose but I'd barely turn water on where it's barely trickling out and water that strip all night long. It works pretty good. I water it every 2-3 weeks just to keep them alive during the summer.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 9:19AM
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hitexplanter(8 a)

As to the flow restrictor in the soaker hose it still doesn't deal with water pressure from the hose bib and how consistant can barely turning on be. Everytime I turn a bib on a certain amount the flow varies some. A static pressure regulator deals with back pressure to soak hose and the hose it is connected to. I am not saying it doesn't work but if you want to take out all the variables and have the hoses (all) last longer this is the best way.
As to 20 drippers per tree that is true depending on type of tree and ultimate size of the tree. This is why I suggest the micro-sprinklers for this part of this project (preferably adjustable) so they can adapted to the growth of the trees over many years. I agree completely that the plan should be sized to the full water need over the life of the project. Happy Growing David

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 9:47AM
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I agree with David that the best solution is to get a regulator on the faucet with the soaker hose, however, the hose should come with a restrictor and some don't for unknown reasons. Even if you plan to only turn on the faucet at a trickle, the hose should come with the restrictor. I also mistyped the size of the hole for the restrictor if you have to make your own. The hole for a 50 ft. hose should be 3/32 and a 75 ft. hose should be 5/32.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 10:24AM
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When first putting out the hoses keep them in the sun for an hour or two and they will soften up so they are easier to roll out. Also put a layer of mulch over them to protect them from ultraviolent rays. They should last at least 2 or 3 years.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 12:49PM
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Does the restrictor washer only need to be on the first soaker hose or on all of them if you have several strung together? Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 5:39PM
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We had to replace our outside faucets last year and the new ones have some kind of built-in check valve that leak (for want of a better term) if it is only turned to a trickle. When the faucet is turned on higher, it is fine and doesn't leak.

This is causing a real problem with my soaker hoses. Would a pressure regulator fix that problem? If so, what exactly is it? A link or picture would be nice if anyone has one.

About the leaking hoses. I have one area where I have to replace the hoses frequently, and it is ants. I thought it might be the cat, but I buried it last year, and the leak is always where there is an ant mound.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 6:23PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Wendy, you wouldn't need a restrictor washer on every hose; just the first one.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 7:32PM
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After reading all the above posts it seems not worth all the trouble to make the hoses work. I use them for the foundation - to keep it evenly moist. What ends up happening is the first 10-15 feet work for a year with the last half full of water to the touch but do not 'bleed' out as they should, even when I squeeze them. I also have to change out every other year. So, I guess there is nothing I can do about that, and if that's the case I'm going to find the cheapest soaker hoses I can find!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 9:16AM
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Just spent a lot of time and money on soaker hoses. In the past have had the same trouble of pressure making slits in soaker hoses and shooting water in the air. Thanks to this board,read that soakers are not to have pressure over 20 to 30 lbs. Now I have been bursting hoses for years,as the instructions on the soaker hoses only say to not use high pressure,now I use 50 lb of water pressure,(this cant be viewed as high pressure,as that is the pressure of most homes) You would think that the idiots that make them would warn us of the pressure trouble. Once you find out about it,non of the box stores sell the regulators. I called the factory and they were not aware on the low pressure. So I called Swan hoses and they told me that their hoses have a restrictor washer that cuts down the pressure. Now I asked how could a washer with a small hose cut down on pressure,as it would only take a little longer to build up the pressure. So not really believing them,I punched a Swan and connected it up and put my end of hose pressure gauge on it and guess what,0 pressure. Then it finally hit me,the disc only lets in the same amount of water the hose distributes which means 0 pressure and will last for years. Now I tried using the disc in one of the other that doesn't use the discs and it did cut the pressure down from 50 to 30 lbs. Surely all manufactures will go to the discs. Another advantage of the disc is if you do get a leak the disc will restrict the amount of wasted water.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 2:20PM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

This year I started using a flat nylon soaker hose and it works great even without the recommended regulator. It should last longer in the heat and won't break if you accidentally hit it with a shovel so it shouldn't burst from too much pressure either.

Here is a link that might be useful: Flat soaker hose

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 3:48PM
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I must be out of step

I replaced 11 50 ft soaker hoses this year. I REMOVED the restrictor in any that had one. I have a brass flow regulator at the end of my garden hose. I restrict the amount of water.

I have 1 that has a little leak meaning a bigger hole in the hose itself.

For the first year I have not had leaps where the hose connects to the water source. For the first time, I actually get things soaked. Yes, I did need to put in washers in place of the restrictors but I am so glad I took out those blue things.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 5:33PM
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johngreenhand(8 Hill country texas)

tried soaker hoses and had same old challenge in making them last. I have went to drip tape with 8 inch emitter spacing and am real happy. I puchased 1600 ft of john deere drip tape for under a hundred dollars delivered. You can find it by searching john deere ro-drip at thedripstore. Eight dollars for 1640 foot(approx a nickel per foot)and it will last more than 3 years with care (mine is going on 3 years). Assembly and parts or very user friendly. I do not believe used any tool but a hole punch. If want more info contact me at

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 11:50AM
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