Troubleshooting Emitters and Driplines

Troubleshooting Emitters and Driplines

Jul 13th 2023

Emitters and Driplines are essential components of a drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation is an efficient and water-saving method that involves dripping water closely onto the roots of plants at low rates from a system of plastic pipes or tubes that are fitted with outlets called emitters or drippers. Drip emitters deliver water to plants from mainline tubing. With a drip irrigation system, water application is more frequent, providing a more favorable moisture level in soil that helps plants flourish.

Emitters and driplines are two critical components of a drip irrigation system. Emitters or drippers are used to control the water discharge. They come in various designs, including adjustable flow emitters, inline emitters, and pressure-compensating emitters. On the other hand, driplines or drip tubing distribute the water throughout the irrigation system and ensure water is delivered efficiently to the roots of plants.

However, like any irrigation system, a drip irrigation system can encounter problems that are primarily due to incorrect installation and wrong usage of crucial components. In this blog, we will explore common issues occurring with emitters and driplines and provide you with troubleshooting tips and simple repairs to address those problems.

Common Issues with Drip Emitters and Driplines

Common problems that emitters and driplines may experience can impact their functionality and your landscape health. Understanding these problems is essential for effective troubleshooting.

Clogged Emitters

Clogging is the main problem with drip emitters. Emitters have tiny waterways that can be blocked if the water isn't clean. Minerals content in water, debris, sediment, fertilizers, and chemicals we use on systems can accumulate and clog the emitters. This causes irregular water deliveries and poor plant growth. If you find uneven plant growth, reduced water flow, dry spots, or lack of water in certain areas, these are signs of clogged emitters.

Troubleshooting Steps

To prevent clogging in emitters, follow these steps:

Flush the System: Flush the system by removing end caps on tube lines or add flush valves at the end of your lines to allow water to automatically drain after every use.  Allowing water to drain from the system will help remove deposits or any loose debris that may build up in the line.

Install a Filter: Install the filter at the start of the line to catch debris. Filters will capture debris that could clog up emitters and driplines.

Inspecting Filters and Screens: Regularly check and clean filters and screens to stop clogging. Most filters have flush valves added to the bottom of the basin for easy cleaning. If you have a screen or disc filter, simply remove the screen from the filter body to clean.

Using cleaning chemicals: Use irrigation cleaning chemicals to dissolve organic material and mineral content.

Cleaning or Replacing Emitters: If clogging continues, consider cleaning each emitter individually or replacing emitters to provide proper water flow.

Uneven Water Distribution

Uneven water distribution is another major problem leading to over or underwatering crops which results in lower yields and inconsistent growth. Multiple factors, including variations in water pressure, damaged emitters, or blockage in the system, cause this problem. Due to uneven watering, some areas of the garden or landscape appear excessively dry or wet compared to surrounding areas.

Troubleshooting Steps

Here is how to address uneven water distribution:

Relacing Emitters: Replace the damaged or worn emitters with new ones. Make sure you choose the correct flow for your soil. Clay soil or poor draining soils should be watered with low flow emitters or dripline and watering times should be short.

Check Pressure Regulators: Inspect pressure regulators to make sure they are working correctly and maintain even water pressure throughout the irrigation system.

Adjust the Flow: Add pressure-compensating emitters or adjust the flow of individual emitters to balance water distribution.

Adjust Emitter Spacing: If some areas in the garden receive plenty of water, adjust the spacing between emitters to achieve more consistent coverage.

Leaking Emitters or Driplines

Leakage in driplines or emitters can lead to reduced system efficiency, water waste, and damage to the surrounding area. Leaks occur due to damaged or worn components, cracked emitters, punctured driplines, or loose fittings. In addition, the signs of leakage in these components include:

  • Reduced water flow in some areas.
  • Wet spots around driplines or emitters.
  • Any visible damage to components.

Troubleshooting Steps

Here's how to address leaks in emitters and driplines:

Repair or Replace Leaking Components: Check out the emitters and dripline thoroughly and replace or repair the faulty component, depending on the extent of the damage. Cut out damaged emitters in driplines and add a coupler to fix the lines and replace emitters with new ones.

Identify Source of Leakage: Scrutinize the drip irrigation system to find the sources of the leaks, such as loose connections, damaged emitters, or holes in the line.

Ensure Proper Assembly: Make sure all the connections are tight, secure, and correctly assembled to avoid future leaks.

Low Water Pressure or Flow

Low water pressure or insufficient water flow in your drip system can result in insufficient irrigation and compromised plant growth. Low pressure or flow can be caused by various factors, including leaks in the system, clogged filters, inadequate water supply, or valve malfunctions. However, signs of low water pressure or water flow in the system include slow irrigation progress, weak water flow from drip emitters, or uneven watering.

Troubleshooting Steps

To increase water pressure and water flow, follow these steps:

Examine Valves: Inspect electric and battery valves, make sure they are not clogged or malfunctioning due to an old solenoid. Replace valve or solenoid if needed. If using manual valves, make sure that the valve is not damaged or broken.

Check your Water Source and Pressure Regulator: Make sure the water source is providing enough water flow and pressure. If the water supply is inadequate, upgrade to a larger water source or split out your garden into smaller watering zones.

Clear Blockages: Check emitters, filters, or screens for clogs or debris. Clean the components to restore good water flow.

Divide System into Zones: If your drip irrigation system has many plants with distinct watering needs, divide it into smaller zones to handle pressure effectively.

Install Booster Pump: If the problem persists, it is recommended to install a booster pump to increase water flow and pressure.

The Bottom Line

Maintaining an efficient drip irrigation system requires cautious troubleshooting and preventive measures. By understanding the common problems with emitters and driplines and implementing suitable solutions, you can increase the functioning of your system and promote plant growth. Regular maintenance, proper filters, and monitoring water quality can help avoid these drip irrigation problems and ensure the system's long-term functioning.

At DripWorks, we carry a huge selection of emitters and driplines for drip irrigation systems. Our collection of drip emitters and drip irrigation kits is extremely popular among our customers. Reach out to us and let us help you find the right one that suits your plants' needs, application, and budget.

Keywords: Drip irrigation problems and solutions, how to unclog drip emitters, low-pressure drip irrigation, clogged drip lines

Meta-description: Troubleshooting emitters and driplines are crucial to maintain a well-functioning drip irrigation system and promote plant growth. Clogged emitters, low water pressure, uneven water distribution, and leaking emitters and driplines are common problems that may occur in drip irrigation systems. Read the blog and explore the troubleshooting steps to address these problems!