Drip Irrigation Mainline Tubing and Fittings
The gardening website of Todd and Sharon Peach
Having dabbled with Drip Irrigation off and on for 20 years, I've sort of gotten used to going to the local hardware store to add parts here and there when I come up short or extend the design. What I have forgotten is that the standards for drip stuff are a little 'fluid' (pun intended) and they don't all work together perfectly.
Case in point, dripworks standard ½” mainline tubing actually measures 0.60” inside diameter and 0.70” outside diameter. This is notably different (larger) than rainbird or whatever brand you’re likely to find at Home Depot. In the photo to right and/or above, the dripworks tubing is on the right. The Home Depot tubing is on the left.
In the photo at left, you can see that one tube can actually fit inside the other. This is just for illustration of why some components won't work well with others, it's not a valid way to connect them.
The Irritec fittings (Tees, Ells, Hose Ends) sold by dripworks that work with these are very positive in that they engage with both the inner wall and the outer wall – sort of ‘belt and suspenders’. If you stay with these parts, you’ll have a pretty good chance of having a leakproof assembly.
In these two photos of 1/2 inch Easy Loc tees, one photo has all of the knobs fully retracted, ready to receive tubing. The other photo has one knob cranked closed - to give you an idea how the fitting closes around the mainline tubing.
By the way, the Irritec fittings are mostly reverse threaded; ‘righty-loosey’ and ‘lefty-tighty’.
The 1/2 inch Easy Loc elbow (made by Irritec, sold by Dripworks) is very similar in function to the Tee, it just has two connections rather than three.
There's two major ways to terminate a Mainline Tubing run. One is a 1/2 inch Easy Loc end cap. It has a half inch threaded cap on it, easy to remove to either flush the system or air it out for the winter.
The other is the humble 1/2 inch figure 8. These figure 8's are super cheap, and simple to use. My prior experience is that these will develop leaks at the kink points, but they're pretty minor up until end of life for the tube itself.
To cut the tubing, you can buy a purpose built tool. I find that a reasonably hefty hand bypass pruner (like a Felco F-7) do a fine job of cutting cleanly. I do not recommend kitchen shears as it takes a fair bit of force and most shears will distort or fail.
The last bit of mainline fittings is the Easy Loc Valve or stopcock for the mainline tubing. We actually bought a bunch of these thinking we'd put a stop valve on each raised bed. Our current design puts valves on the individual drip tapes instead. Still, these are valuable for linking two systems together or isolating them.
Lastly, the mainline tubing grows with heat and shrinks when cold. In the mild conditions we have here, I'd guess a 20' run probably grows 3-4" between 40 and 80F. Plan accordingly.
One other 'luxury' is the 100 pack of 6 inch U-stakes. I got a small number with one of the kits, thought "Ah heck, I have a boatload of wire coat hangars" and sat down to hack out my own ground staples. Several evenings of cramped hands and wildly flying bits of metal later, I decided $12 for 100 of these was well worth it. Splurge.
Mainline into the Raised Bed up and over
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