How to Convert a Sprinkler Head to a Drip System

To convert a sprinkler head to a drip system you must remove the sprinkler head and replace it with a drip-system adaptor.

Use a pipe wrench to grip sprinkler risers.Use a pipe wrench to grip sprinkler risers.
Because sprinkler-to-drip is such a common home improvement project, adaptors are available at nearly every plumbing supply shop and home improvement store. Also, if your irrigation system has volatile pressure, unusually high pressure or unusually low pressure, you'll need to install a pressure regulator in addition to the adaptor. Once you convert a sprinkler head to a drip system, you can control the entire drip system with the same valve or timer as the sprinkler that you removed.

Turn off the irrigation system's water supply. Attach an adjustable wrench to the hexagonal collar of the sprinkler that you are removing. Attach a pipe wrench to the sprinkler's riser. Stabilize the pipe's position by firmly holding the pipe wrench in place. Twist the adjustable wrench to remove the sprinkler head.

Drain excess water from the sprinkler riser. Brush the riser's threads with a stiff-bristled brush to remove old pipe thread sealant, grit and corrosion. Wipe the threads with a clean rag to finish cleaning.

Wrap a double layer of pipe thread seal tape clockwise around the riser's threads. Press the pressure regulator's threads against the riser's threads, twist clockwise to lock the threads and turn clockwise to tighten by hand.

Wrap a double layer of thread seal tape around the exposed threads of the regulator, press the drip system adaptor against the regulator, twist to lock the components' threads and turn clockwise to tighten by hand. If you are not installing a regulator, skip the regulator and simply attach the adaptor directly to the riser.

Attach an adjustable wrench to regulator and a pipe wrench to the riser. Steady the riser with the pipe wrench and tighten the regulator with the adjustable wrench. Attach a second adjustable wrench to the adaptor. Steady the regulator with the first wrench and twist the second wrench to fully tighten the adaptor into the regulator. If you aren't installing a regulator, steady the riser with a pipe wrench and tighten the adaptor with an adjustable wrench.

Insert the loose end from a roll of drip tubing into the open end of the drip system adaptor. Push the tubing into the adaptor until it butts against the adaptor's interior rim; compression secures the tubing to the adaptor and you need no further tightening.

Lay the tubing across the lawn, yard or garden in the desired pattern. Secure the tubing in place approximately every 24 inches with drip tubing stakes.

Puncture the tubing with the drip tubing punch tool at the desired location of every drip emitter. Insert an emitter into each punched hole until the rim around the emitter's barb passes through the tubing's wall. Turn on the water supply and check for leaks.

Things You Will Need

  • Adjustable wrenches
  • Pipe wrench
  • Stiff-bristled brush
  • Clean rag
  • Pipe thread seal tape
  • Drip system pressure regulator
  • Drip system adaptor
  • Drip tubing
  • Drip tubing stakes
  • Drip tubing punch tool
  • Drip emitters


  • Drip emitters release a steady, controlled flow of water; also available are drip sprinklers and misters. Sprinklers and misters use the same punch and press installation method as drip emitters.
  • Water pressure will fully seat emitters within the tube; expect tiny leaks upon initial testing.

About the Author

Based in Hawaii, Shane Grey began writing professionally in 2004. He draws on his construction experience to write instructional home and garden articles. In addition to freelance work, Grey has held a position as an in-house copywriter for an online retailer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts from Humboldt State University.