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Mending Broken Drip Irrigation Lines

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It's not out of the ordinary for a drip irrigation line to become the victim of an errant shovel or other gardening tool. Striking a drip irrigation line by accident often results in cracks and gashes in the line itself, allowing water to escape from the line uncontrollably. The following shows how you can easily find and repair those accidental leaks and place your drip irrigation system back into service.

Wet Marks the Spot

Finding a leak in a drip irrigation system isn't as difficult as you'd think. For lines buried underground, it's only a matter of finding waterlogged areas on the soil's surface. If you happen to see an area that appears or even feels soaked in comparison to the surrounding soil, then chances are you've found your leak. Carefully excavate the soil to reach the underlying irrigation line and then look for the cut or break in the line.

If you have an above-ground drip irrigation system, then all you'll have to do is find the geyser of water spraying out of the broken line. Keep in mind that the water in the line is escaping under pressure, so exercise caution when inspecting the irrigation line.

Your Repair Options

Once you've found the cause of the leak, you have several repair options at your disposal:

  • For most cuts and nicks, couplings are your best option for a long-lasting repair. After cutting the damaged section of the irrigation line with a utility knife, push one end of the line into the coupler and push the other end of the line into the other end of the coupler. If you're using a lock fitting coupler, don't forget to turn the locking mechanism until the line fits snugly in the coupler.
  • A plastic union fitting offers another way of fixing damaged or severed irrigation lines. Unlike a coupling, the fitting is designed to be inserted inside of the line instead of slipping over the line. Simply insert one end of the fitting into the cut irrigation line and insert the other end to the other section of line. The splined end will help keep the irrigation line from slipping off the fitting.
  • If a lengthy section of irrigation line is damaged or if the damaged line is made of thick-walled PVC pipe, then you'll have to replace the entire section with a new line. Don't forget to use the appropriate bonding adhesive when connecting PVC line sections.

Afterwards, flush the drip irrigation line of any sediment that might have found its way inside and test the system for leaks. When you're done, you can finally cover the repaired section or, if you're using an above-ground drip irrigation system, simply leave it in place.

Don't hesitate to contact a drip irrigation service if you need help with tackling this task.