If you live in a desert area, in ahome that was built in the 80’s or early 90’s, you probably have drip irrigation for your plants and shrubs. These systems are great — initially. However there are many interesting problems which develop in aging irrigation systems

One problem is that the small emitters clog up. This happens either due to maintenance, where some dirt gets in a line that you have to patch, or when the mineralized water, over time, deposits scale in the fittings. Some of the newer emitters have a feature called turbulent flow, which helps prevent scale buildup.

Another more interesting problem is the wildlife. In the Phoenix area, particularly in the outlying areas, we have packrats, rabbits, and kangaroo rats. They like to chew on the small drip lines, and so there is ongoing maintenance required.

Finally, in aging systems the half inch lines start splitting. We often just repair them as they split — but there is a better answer.

When these systems were first installed, they usually included a pressure reducer right after the valve. Over time, the pressure reducers fail — and so the full pressure of the city water system is applied to a system designed for only 25 PSI, and so the aging lines are stressed and may split and leak.

When you find leaks in your system, check the pressure reducer. You can’t tell if it has failed or not, without taking it apart. And a replacement is only $10-$20, so it is a good idea to swap it out. It will save you lots of new leaks in the future!