Soaker hose: do I need a pressure regulator or not?

julianna_il(z6 IL)June 11, 2007

I just finished putting in soaker hose into my veg. garden. I'm kind of shocked that it took all 100 feet of the bulk hose I bought, but I did a lot of snaking in and out because I don't have any straight rows. (I'm doing companion planting and everything is a mish mash)

Anyway, it's soaking now for the first time. I bought all this stuff at Wal Mart and read the booklet that Orbit had, and it stressed you needed these two items:

1. Backflow thing, which I did buy but haven't installed yet. This keeps water from flowing back into your water supply.

2. Pressure regulator which was about 8 more dollars. Do I need this or can I just have the faucet turned on low? I hate to spend another 8 bucks if I don't have to.

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julianna il, please install the 'Backflow thing' soonest.
Regarding the pressure regulator; observe how much water is delivered by the first 3ft. as against how much is put out by the last 3ft. If there is a lot of difference after about half an hour, then you might want to do something about that. I am not quite sure what but I am not convinced that the pressure regulator is the solution. I know that splitting the zone works but it involves running another garden hose off a Y connection at the faucet.
Hope this helps and please remember the 'Backflow thing'.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 10:24AM
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Good questions julianna_il and some good answers from
ronalawn82 too. actually, I just got my first 'stuff' in
the mail today from amazon. rainbird 50' drip emitter
hose with 12" emitter spacing and 1gpm flow. I see no reason to not just turn the water on low. I also don't see
a great urgent need for the backflow prevention device.
unless I'm mistaken, that is so you will not inadvertantly
create a suction situation, wherein the "garden water"
can seep back into your supply. first, I aint gonna use
pesticides, or fertilizer. and when everything is wet
enough, I'll turn the hose off. problem solved :)

I do not know if that is helpful or not. you already have
backflow prevention, but I see no need for a pressure regulator. if your house is like mine, you'll be sneaking
around the neighborhood, turning off other peoples hoses,
so you can have ANY water, let alone too much. MY OWN prob
is trying to figure out how to connect this 1/4" tubing
to a hose and not to the faucet itself. so far, I have no idea.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 4:18AM
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davidandkasie(Z8 MS)

if you turn the faucet on too high the wally world hose will blow out. look at the end of it that connects to teh faucet, does it have a little plastic thing in there with a small hole in teh middle about the size of a pencil lead? if so that is the pressure regulator.

i run mine without regulators, just keep the faucet turned on maybe 1/4 turn. i leave mine on all the time, and the timers kill the water to the soakers when not needed.

if you have an issue with not enough flow to the end of the run compared to the start of the run, get another female end and put it on there then use a Y adapter and another hose so that you are running water into BOTH ends of the soaker. you still have to keep the pressure low to prevent blow outs, but it does give a more even flow.

as to the backflow preventer, i know these are common now but i just don't see how it matters. you shut off the faucet and water flow stops so it ain't gonna backflow anyhow. when the faucet is on, the water flows OUT not in. just another of today's scare tactics if you ask me.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 12:10PM
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I came here looking for an answer to the same question!
I have a little potager with 3 raised beds and an herb garden. This is my first year gardening, and I think my peppers got a disease due to overhead watering so I bought a soaker hose this weekend.

I have one faucet that comes out of the side of the house, with an attachment I put on it that allows 4 hoses to be attached. To one of them I attached a short normal hose, then to that I attached the soaker hose. (the normal hose was just to reach the beds, which is where the soaker hose starts)I wound it around my plants and herbs.

That's all I did, didn't add any backflow thing or pressure regulator. I figure I will turn the soaker hose on for an hour 2 or 3 times a week (depending on rain), then turn it off. Am in for trouble or do you all think this will be sufficient?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 11:35AM
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julianna_il(z6 IL)

Well, I'm going to weigh back in from last year's experience. Take a lesson from my big disaster.

And I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you spend the extra bucks for the pressure regulator. (and the backflow thing, or you run the risk of that water flowing back into your system)

Here's what happened last year. I did buy the pressure regulator and put it on. For about the first couple of weeks, all was fine. Then I started springing leaks, one after another. I kept repairing by buying more cheap connectors and cutting out the pieces with holes and splicing.

It looked like someone was slitting my hose with a razor...little slits. It was a nightmare. Every time I'd turn on the hose, there would be a new spot spraying water into the air.

I finally called Orbit and they were kind enough to send me an entire new roll of hose, thinking the hose was defective.

Long story short: I have high water pressure and had no idea. The average home, as I recall, was about 60, and mine was 120! (I ended up buying a cheap pressure reader gadget at Lowes, and when I asked the man where I might find it, another man who was shopping asked why I needed it. I explained, and he said you live in so and so? And he said your area has very high pressure. He was an irrigation specialist, and gave me good info.)

Because my pressure was so high, the regulator made by orbit couldn't handle it, and I had to order a special one online. (It was only a few bucks, and I took the other one back to the store for a refund.)

That did the trick, but that pressure reader gadget was criticial. That's how I found out just how high my pressure was, and it was that high water pressure causing my hose to erupt.

Orbit was spectacular with its customer service and replaced my hose twice. I can't rave about the company enough.

Bottom line: buy the regulator. And make sure the pressure going into the hose is within the numbers specified by the manufacturer. Otherwise, you're eventually going to ruin your hose.

And if you can, borrow a pressure reader thing from someone (or spring the ten bucks for one). I learned the hard way that it is CRITICAL to get that water pressure within the guidelines.

Postscript: I called our water company and asked if it would be possible to turn down my pressure from the main source. (LOL) She yelled at me and told me I should be grateful for such good water pressure. Ack. Orbit was great. Our water company....very nasty.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 1:08PM
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julianna_il(z6 IL)

I wanted to add, for anyone reading this thread, that once I got the pressure issue under control and the hose stopped exploding, a soaker hose was the best thing ever.

Watering was no longer a chore, I put myself on a twice-a-week schedule (unless there was rain), and the plants appreciated it. Last year I had no diseases and probably some of the healthiest plants ever.

The hardest part is the first time, reading about it, trying to figure it all out, and then setting it up. Once you do it, then you, that wasn't as hard as I expected.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 1:20PM
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davidandkasie(Z8 MS)

water pressure regulators pretty much jsut restrict the VOLUME of water than can pass thru at any given time by making the hole smaller than the hose. a 4 way splitter can do the same thign by NOT turning the port on all the way. i just barely crack mine open when i use a splitter and get the same or better results than any regulator i have bought.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 1:54PM
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Hi all,

Here is my $0.02, a pressure gauge(cheap) to test the pressure at your house outlets is a great idea. This is a check for your house pressure regulator in usually in your garage. The pressure for the house should be 40 to 60 psi with this regulator. If the house pressure is higher than 60 psi the house regulator can be adjusted (screw adjustment). Your house appliances can't take high pressure. If the the pressure can't be adjusted replace house regulator.

If your system comes off the line from the street it is before the house pressure regulator and needs to be regulated separately from the house for pressure to what ever your needs are. Most irrigation systems for large yards utilize the this higher pressure side to decrease the need for extra zones which is more economical.

The drip tapes, drip hoses and garden hoses usually have an operating pressure listed. Next splitters divide the volume of water or flow into how many branches you have. To find flow from a faucet fill a 5 gal bucket from the faucet and record the time to fill to 5 gal. Calculate the flow or gpm or gph. This is the total amount you have to divide into splitters for your given pressure. Each hole, emitter,sprinkler head uses up some system pressure as the water moves down the line. If the pressure loss along the tape is greater than your system pressure you will be over watering some plants to get the right amount to the plants at the end of the line no matter how many splitters you have. This latter info is necessary to design automatic systems or if you wish to know the amount of water you are giving plants and don't want to take a long time watering your system by hand. BTW I thought it was City or County code to use a back flow prevention device. They are usually part of the valve system shut-off. I highly recommend having a BFP in your system. If there is a broken line in your garden and is flooding and someone in your house starts a bath or shower which changes the pressure at the faucets the dirty water can be sucked back into the house contaminating the house piping not to mention the city system. Similar to a hose end sprayer taking up fertilizer from the attached jar. Hope this was helpful.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 4:42PM
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Yes you need a preassure regulator and if your house pressure is over 80 psi then you need to adjust or replace the one on the main water line coming into your house. If you don't have one go to home depot or lowes type stores and ask about them and the people will help you find what you need.

If you use a regulator then you will get the same flow no matter how much you open your valve. I tried it one year without and most of the time it was okay but then i wasn't paying close enough attention and blow out a hose and killed some plants as i was watering during the night then the kids turned the water on full and blew it all out again. 8 bucks is much cheaper than new hoses and dead plants!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 11:53PM
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What then should be the pressure going to the hose after installing the pressure regulator. I only see those online which drop the pressure to 20psi. Is this enough pressure for a long hose or irrigation system.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 1:06PM
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To return to Lehua's point: when determining the psi from the 5 gallon test, you would fully open the faucet?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 4:06PM
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Yes. Turn the valve opening all the way as quickly as you can.


What do you consider a long hose. Every opening exacts its toll in reducing the pressure along a tube length along with skin friction loss of the tube itself. So there is a limit to how long a tube a 20 psi reducer will supply. It depends on the pressure loss at each opening. JMHO Aloha

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 2:33PM
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Can't help but comment "after the fact". The need for a water regulator is determined only by the requirements of the terminus equipment. The Terminal equipment will always reflect a Water PSI except for possibly mass produced units. The standard is 60 pounds of water per square inch, abbreviated 60PSI. If the terminal equipment is a soaking hose, you'll want the pressure down lower to where it disperses throughout the hose evenly. The Hose will have it's own PSI requirements. You can scan the web for technical details on most of this stuff for the recommended PSI. Most companies, as a matter of course, will include the statement about using a water regulator for liability purposes. If your equipment requires max 60PSI and your water source is 90PSI, then you have to put a regulator in. If the source water pressure is 55PSI then it's not needed. If the source pressure is too high, it'll blow equipment valves and you won't have a warranty. Cracking the water valve on your house is not an option unless the water will flow at all times. As soon as your terminal equipment shuts off the input water, the pressure in the hose will climb to the same PSI that's at the source and will eventually blow out the valve at the terminus. So, in the end you have to find out the pressure requirements of all components in your system. If you exceed the PSI at any point, eventually it will blow the valves or a weak section of the system out.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 4:35AM
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Hi all,
I just bought some soaker hoses for my forest of Emerald Green Arborbaties. I have high water pressure and utilize a pressure regulator valve(which was replaced last year). I live very close to the water district and the reason for the regulator. When using the soaker hoses, do you turn the hose on all the way? After using the soaker hoses a few times, now I have a loud sqeaking noise in the pipes when flushing the toilet or washing clothes. Did the soaker hoses cause this to happen (as I turned the water faucet on all the way)? I usually go 5 years before replacing it. Maybe I got a defective one?

Thanks for any help. Chris

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 7:09PM
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Don't understand fully your situation. Are you saying because you live next to the water district your water pressure is high? What is you pressure before and after the pressure regulator? Is the pressure regulator for your house and irrigation? Or do you have a separate source of water and your pressure regulators for your soaker hoses? What brand and type of regulators are you using? Regulators work in limited ranges of pressure. Soaker hoses usually are kept in the 20-25 psi. Your house pressure should be at the 50-60 psi. Anything higher will damage you water appliance and device seals in the long term. The loud squeaking noise in the pipe most likely is water hammer. This is from your house water pressure is too high. The toilet float valve closes quickly or any automatic valve for that matter and suddenly stops the rapidly flowing mass of water in the pipe and causes a shock wave to move along the pipe from one dead end to another causing rattling, banging or squealing as it gets by a weak valve. High pressure causes the water to move to fast through your pipes when a valve opens. Check your hose pressure from a hose spigot with an inexpensive pressure gauge from the hardware store with a fixed end to attach to your hose spigot. Let us know the reading. Aloha

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 9:20PM
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