Switching out drip emitters

Asked May 22, 2018, 1:30 AM EDT

I have a drip system that was put in about 6 years ago. The contractor inserted the emitters straight into the 1/2" distribution line and then ran the 1/4" emitter tubing to the plants. Now that the plants have grown up some of the bigger shrubs need more water - most were given only one 1/2 gph emitter. I’ve only got one zone so I can’t just increase the run time without the risk of drowning my annuals. I know the ideal would be to create a couple more zones but I’m trying to keep costs down. So my question is can I remove the existing 1/2 gph emitters from the main line and reuse the same hole for 1 or 2 gph emitters or will that cause leakage? If I cannot reuse the existing holes will it make any difference to the water pressure and/or total system allowance if I just cap off the ends of the emitters lines with a goof plug or should I remove the existing emitters and put the goof plug directly into the distribution line?

El Paso County Colorado

1 Response

Hello,
thank you your question.
Most drip irrigation systems in the homeowner setting leave room for expansion, but there is a few questions you will have to think about. How much area does your drip system cover? How many emitters are connected already? How may plants and bushes are watered? How long is your watering cycle ? Is your system maxed out? How is your water pressure from the house? What is your soil like, sand or clay? Please review the CSU link below to learn more.
http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/drip-irrigation-home-gardens-4-702/
I will try to answer some of your specific questions. Lots of times landscapers and contractors will use different supply then what the big box stores have available. Because of that I would suggest to not change out emitters. I would be concerned about leaking at the hole to the main line. You could add a second emitter into the mainline close to your bushes that need extra water. I would also evaluate where the 1/4 inch line emitter is located. Most likely it was in a perfect spot 6 yrs ago, close to the root ball. The plants root system has spread out over the years and the plant absorbs water closer to the drip line of the tree or bush. You could shorten that 1/4 inch line, bringing it out further to the drip line of the bush or tree.
If you are closing off an emitter hole I would place the goof plug into the main line to reduce the risk for additional leaks.
Once you have made the changes to your system you will have to evaluate the moisture level in the soil for a while and your vegetation to see if you are over watering. You might have to consider changing the time for your watering cycle, depending on what you find. You could always adjust your drippers for your annual bed.
I hope this answered some of your questions.