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Drip Irrigation Maintenance
   

Drip irrigation systems usually have no moving parts other than the valve in the timer. If you have a good clean source of water and always use a 150 - mesh filter, your drip irrigation system will require very little maintenance.

Drips

Small drips at the pressure regulator (PR2) or anti-syphon valve (V4) are normal and may be ignored.

Flushing

Whenever you add new tubing to a drip irrigation system, turn on the water and flush the tubing before you install drippers or sprayers. That way any dirt in the tubing is washed out and cannot plug small openings in drippers. If you take the care to make sure that there are no dirt or plastic shavings in the system tubing at installation, it will pay off by reducing the time to troubleshoot and repair later.

At the end of the summer, take the end stops off all tubing and flush until the water runs clear. If you are using well water that may have fine silt, try flushing each month. If the flush water is clean, put off flushing for two months. If the flush water is still clean, flush only at the end of the season.

Filters

Use the same procedure with all filters. Remove the filter body and check the screen at the end of the first week. If the screen is clean, check the filter each month. If there is no dirt at the end of a month, then you may only have to clean the filter once per season.

Drippers

Once a week, walk along your drip irrigation system when it's on and look to make sure that water is flowing at each dripper. If a dripper is not working, replace it. If an entire section of the circuit is not dripping, look for a kink in the mainline tubing. It's simple to replace a section of tubing by using two barbed couplers (FB4) and a length of new tubing.

 

Figure 8 (OE7) end stops on 1/2" Tubing makes it easy to flush the system

150-mesh Tee Filter (FLR3)

 

150-mesh "Y" Filter (FLR4)

   

Deposits

If you have hard water, mineral deposits may eventually form around the small openings of drippers and dripline. The deposits only form when the surface dries, so that if you place drippers or dripline under mulch, you may keep the drippers damp enough that they never really dry and the process is slowed. Mineral deposits are removed by soaking in vinegar or a comparable acid overnight, rinse and dry.

Winter

Drain all tubing before frost. Leave the tubing ends open for a few days then close them again to keep insects out. Water that remains in any hard plastic fittings will expand during freezing weather and may break the fitting. You may leave all tubing and fittings in place in the garden over the winter as long as all water is drained. It is possible to blow water from the lines using compressed air but use no more than 30 psi of air pressure. Even better is to rely on gravity to drain the drip irrigation tubing. Pull the tubing apart at all low points or install a tee and a short length of tubing at each low point and open each tee to drain the system.

It's best to take the entire faucet assembly indoors for winter and remove any batteries. The faucet assembly includes the timer/controller, filter and pressure regulator. Timers are very prone to damage by freezing. Damage by freezing is not covered by warranty. It is difficult to drain all the water from a timer or controller so it is best to take the unit indoors before the first frost. Use a fresh set of batteries in the spring and they should last the entire growing season.

 

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