Broken Drip Line Repair & Troubleshooting

Drip Line Repair

Drip Line Repair – Common Problems and Solutions

Do you have a drip line system that is gushing water or not watering at all?  Even though drip line repair is simple and cheap, I’ve noticed many drip line systems in disrepair and most likely if you’re here, yours is too.

Below are the numerous problems and repairs I’ve made over years using and observing drip line systems.  Most drip line repairs are very cheap, only a few dollars or less.

Drip Line Repair for Gushing Water

  1. An emitter has broken or is missing.  The emitter is the piece near the plant that lets water out at a certain rate.  Sometimes the sun damages them and they crack, too much pressure might cause them to pop out of the supply tubing, etc.  This usually looks like a 1/4″ stream water jet and the rest of your system will probably still be working, but not as well.  To repair this drip line you will need to get what is know as a goof plug.  Insert the goof plug and buy a new emitter to replace the broken one.  Insert the new emitter into the supply tubing a few inches from the repair you just made with the goof plug.  If another burst happens, you may need to repair or replace your pressure regulator at your hose connection.  Drip line systems work on low pressure.

  2. A supply line fitting has broken.  This kind of damage will usually flood the area and make the rest of the drip line system ineffective.  These fittings are elbows, tees, couplings, and end closures (sometimes I just use 1″ PVC couplers as end closures).  Simply identify the part, buy a new one, and replace it.  It is possible that too much pressure caused the supply tubing to burst off of the fitting, so check your pressure regulator at your hose connection as well.  Sometimes, you don’t even need to replace the fitting if it isn’t broken, just cut off about an inch of the supply tubing and reconnect securely.
  3. Dog/Mower/Kids/Shovel/etc has completely severed the supply line.  This is what causes the death of most drip systems and is probably the easiest fix, just buy some straight connectors, most likely the 1/2″ variety, cut the tubing back to wear it has not been damaged and reconnect the drip line system.  No big deal and less than $3 for 4 of the connectors.  You may also need to buy more 1/2″ tubing depending on the severity of the damage.

Drip Line Repair for Little/No Water Flow

  1. No flow to any plant.  Is your hose connection on?  Just kidding, this is most likely a clogged screen filter.  This drip line repair simply requires you to unscrew your connection at the hose and clean the mesh screen.  Don’t eliminate this piece, it keeps large particles out of your drip line system.  If that doesn’t work, something has probably gone wrong with the Faucet connection pieces, just replace all the components, its cheaper than doing it individually.

    Highly Not Recommended type of Drip Line Emitter

    Sun Damaged Drip Line Repair – This type of emitter is terrible, but in a pinch your can use pieces to make a working one.

  2. No flow to certain plants –  This is most likely a problem with a single emitter (the piece that dispenses the water).  A clogged emitter usually has some evidence like rust/white crust around the outside giving you some indication of why.  Once clogged, the emitter is done.  It doesn’t make sense to buy the $5 cleanable emitter when you can just pop in a new emitter a few inches up or down from the clogged one for pennies.  If you are finding that emitters are clogging often I recommend a higher flow rate emitter for less clogs.  Water at my house is absolutely terrible and will clog the 0.5 gph emitters in a few months, but has only managed to clog 1 or 2 out of hundreds of 2.0gph emitters on our property.
  3. Fouled Water – You know if you have it.  I noticed many of my plants, particularly those near the end of a line, were not receiving enough water and the emitters were all caked with rust and white crusty stains.  There is no physical drip line repair necessary in this case because I was only failing to perform some regular maintenance.  Simply open each end point in your system (where the line gets folded back onto itself) and let the water flow until it is clear.  Iron and other hard metals build up and get stuck inside the tubing and concentrate near the end points. Releasing this concentrated buildup will extend the life of your emitters.


Items needed for Drip Line Repair

1/2 Blank Supply Tubing (Add a new plant or if you need extra to replace a damaged line)

2gph Emitter (Cheap, and self-cleaning, Clogs rarely even on my very hard iron water)

5gph Emitter (Extremely difficult to clog, waters too fast for my liking)

Goof Plugs (For fixing emitter sized holes in your supply tubing)

Hose Faucet connection, filter, and pressure regulator (Cheaper to buy and replace together than in pieces)

1/2″ Tee (Connect Three 1/2″ pieces of tubing together)

1/2″ Straight Coupling (Connect two broken pieces of supply tubing together)

1/2″ Emitter Tubing (Great product, about 4x more expensive, but very easy to use and reliable.  If it clogs, you just insert a new emitter next to the clogged one as if it was blank tubing)


You might be interested to check out the best setup’s I’ve found for drip irrigation to Gardens, Shrubs & Bushes, and Trees (Articles and links coming soon).  I’ve made lots of mistakes over the years 🙁 and I hope you can learn from them 🙂

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