How to Stop Drip Irrigation System Leaks

Drip irrigation is a time-saving, water-conserving method of effectively watering your plants.

Drip irrigation conserves more water than traditional ways of watering plants.Drip irrigation conserves more water than traditional ways of watering plants.
A simple drip system contains a ½-inch black polyvinyl hose that you punch small holes into to connect smaller ¼-inch lines. You can use emitters on both types of drip line: They deliver water to your plants at a drip, which saturates the soil around their root zones but denies water to areas where you don't want or need it. Emitters come in different sizes and deliver a determined number of gallons per hour. Any of these components can become clogged or develop leaks.

Examine your drip irrigation system for leaks every spring when you first set it up. If you have left it in the garden all winter, begin by removing all endcaps and then run the system for at least 30 minutes to flush it out. Then replace the endcaps and run the system. Walk along the entire system and carefully check for water coming from areas where it should not be dripping, such as around the holes where emitters are located.

Remove all leaking emitters and then insert one hole plug into the holes where they were located. Run your system again to determine if the hole plug is holding: if leaking continues, cut the line with your clippers to remove the leaky area and then put the line back together by inserting the appropriate connector pieces.

Replace all areas of your main ½-inch line that are leaking by cutting several inches off from either side of the leak with your clippers. Using two straight connector pieces suited for ½-inch line, drive one connector into each side of your cut line. Measure the length you cut out and then cut the same length from a new line. Attach the new line to the connectors and then run your system to test for leakage.

Replace all leaking areas of your ¼-inch line by cutting out the defective areas with your clippers. Insert straight connectors made for ¼-inch line into each side of your cut. Then measure the area you cut out and cut an identical length from a new ¼-inch line. Insert it into the two connectors and then test your system for leaks.

Replace any leaking end plugs by cutting off the line and inserting a new end plug. Then run your system to make certain your repair worked.

Things You Will Need

  • Garden clippers
  • Drip connectors
  • New emitters
  • Hole plugs
  • Hole punch
  • Measuring tape
  • ½-inch drip line
  • ¼-inch drip line

Tip

  • When you make cuts on any size drip line, make all cuts absolutely straight across the line.

About the Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.