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Getting Started with Drip Irrigation (toggle)

The Basic Components of a Drip Irrigation System

  1. Start the system from the faucet or an in-line valve.
    The starting point can be either a manual system or automatic. With either one you need a Backflow Preventer.
  2. About Backflow (hose bib vacuum breaker) / (anti-siphon valve)
    This device keeps contaminates from re-entering household water supply. This device should always be used with drip system and when applying fertilizer. Backflow device, when used, is the first item to install with drip system after the faucet.

    Important: If a backflow device is used with a battery operated controller or any type of shutoff valve, make sure that the backflow device should be install after the battery-operated controller, timer or any type of shutoff valve.

    Important: Backflow device (vacuum breaker) cannot be used under a continuous pressure.
    Codes do not permit the use of this device under a continuous pressure as the backflow device can stop functioning under emergency conditions. If used under constant pressure, the backflow device can crack and fail due to a pressure surge when downstream valve close

    Some municipalities or local water districts, require the use of Backflow / Atmospheric Vacuum breakers. Make sure to check your local city code to see if you need to install this device.

  3. Screen Filter or Disc Filter
    All drip systems require a filter to protect the small orifices of the drippers and micro sprinklers from clogging. City water is not free from stuff that will plug your emitters. Choose the correct thread (hose or pipe) and the right size filter for your system, and remember to periodically remove and rinse the screen or disc to keep the filter clean. The recommended filter size for a drip system is between 140 to 155 mesh.
  4. Pressure Regulator
    Most household water pressure are anywhere between 40 PSI to 90 PSI, with some homes even higher. Typically homes will have a pressure regulator (before the water goes to the pipe inside the house that is set at 40 to 60 PSI). Drip systems are designed to work at an even lower pressure; the optimal pressure for a drip system is between 20 to 30 PSI and for drip tape is 10 to 25 PSI. If higher pressure allow to the system, a problem will accrue with the drippers, drip tape, micro sprinklers and the fittings such as drippers popping off, higher flow for the drippers and micro sprinkler and components blowing out of the drip tubing. In a layout for a large system, we may need a higher pressure. This is most common for a single long lateral or when using PVC pipe as the main line to delver the water to many long length laterals. In this type of application the system will experience a pressure drop and low uniformity between the drippers or micro sprinklers due to the long run of the drip laterals. To make sure that the uniformity is kept along the line a drip system should have a minimum of 15 PSI at the of the line a micro sprinkler should have a 25 PSI and a drip tape 10 PSI. To accomplish the minimum pressure at the lateral end a higher pressure regulator or adjustable pressure regulator may be required.
  5. Drip Emitters :
    Drippers are the heart of any drip irrigation system, the "sprinkler head" if you will. Most drip emitters will deliver between .5 to 4 gph. We recommend for most installations that you use between .5 gallon per hour and 2 gph drip emitters. Drippers are inexpensive, easy to install, reliable and accurate. All drip emitters may be inserted directly into 1/2" poly tubing or extended with 1/4" micro tube. The Drip Store carries a variety of drippers that incorporate three different characteristics: pressure compensating, vortex flow and turbulent flow. Use pressure compensating emitters if you are irrigating a hilly area.
  6. Poly tubing
    The main drip line that is used for a drip system is the pipe that goes from the valve to the plants. There are many nominal sizes of drip tubing that are used. The Drip Store carries polyethylene tubing in sizes of 3/4", 1/2" with .700 OD and 1/2" or 16mm with .620 OD. Two different sizes are commonly referred to as "1/2". The fittings for these two are not interchangeable; make sure you use the correct fittings for the size of your tubing. The 3/4" or the 1/2" serves as the main line or a branch line, into which you can insert either drippers, micro sprinklers or 1/4" micro tubing. The poly tubing is made from high quality plastic compounds, with 2%+ Carbon Black for extra resistance to the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays. It is designed to meet every demand of low volume irrigation from landscape installations to backyard gardens, and may be installed above or below the ground.
  7. Micro tubing
    The 1/4" serves as an individual feeder line to deliver the water to each dripper or micro sprinkler. The micro tubing is also made from high quality vinyl or polyethylene compounds, with 2%+ Carbon Black for extra resistance to the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays. It is designed to meet every demand of low volume irrigation system installations.
  8. Drip Fittings
    Compression fittings and barbed fittings are both used to connect 3/4" or 1/2" poly tubing. The compression fittings use a simple wrist action. The tubing is "walked" into the fittings for a very tight fit. No tools, glue or clamps are required. The 1/2" barb fittings are available in straight barbs, elbows and tees, and are used with 1/2" poly tubing. The poly tube is pushed over the barb to insure a leak-proof fit. Make sure the fittings are the exact size for your 1/2" poly tubing. 1/4" barb fittings are available in straight barbs, elbows and tees, and are used to connect to the 1/2" poly tubing or to the 1/4" micro tube. The micro tube is pushed over the barb to insure a leak-proof fit.
  9. Drip Accessories
    There are a variety of accessories available which are important for the proper installation of your system, such as a hole punch to make holes in the poly tubing so you can insert the drippers and micro sprinklers, hose end used to close the end of 1/2" drip tube, goof plugs used to plug off unwanted holes and the tubing holder stake, used to hold the 1/2" drip line in place on the ground.