Suggestions for ruggedizing drip system?

We’ve been having great results with our drip system since installing a Rachio controller late last year. The only significant problem we’ve encountered has been with plastic parts of the drip system that have been breaking. While not a Rachio issue per se, I know there’s a lot of experience represented here, so hoped I could describe the problem in case anyone has suggestions.

Our system is built around taking water from 1/2" risers from a previously installed sprinkler system, and distributing it via 1/4" microtubes to drip emitters. The big problem is with the adapter connecting the 1/4" tubes to the 1/2" risers. We’ve been using four-outlet manifolds from the local hardware store that screw onto the risers:

We’ve tried a couple of different brands of these manifolds, all of which are plastic and seem to break easily. In the picture above, for example, you can see that two of the outlets have broken off.

I noticed that Orbit has a manifold that appears to be somewhat better built:

However, it’s still plastic, and there are more outlets than we need. In addition, we’d prefer to use a manifold or connector that can be buried, and the Orbit one didn’t look like it was designed for that.

As a work-around, I could see connecting the 1/2" riser to a larger drip distribution hose:

then punching holes to attach 1/4" tubes to the sides of that hose. Kind of more hardware than we wanted to use, though.

Is there anything else out there that would provide a more durable way of attaching clusters of three or four 1/4" tubes to a 1/2" riser? Thanks in advance.

having used many of the Orbit 4 and 8 output heads for over 20 years… these hold up very well.
Note - We are Coastal Southern California, infrequent freeze in the winter but our micro climate brings us below 20°f several times each year (overnight).

You are right, they are not meant to be buried, although I don’t think any of the riser to ¼" ones are designed for that.
If the arms break off you have to replace. If they pop out (due to pull on the ¼ hoses you can reinsert them 75% of the time.

Good luck!

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Thanks – I’ll have to look for the Orbit 4-output manifolds and give them a try. Our problem is that many of the manifolds are on the edges of walkways at ground level, and end up getting stepped on. I just lost two this week, and both were in areas near where construction crews were working on our house foundation. I hadn’t thought of cold temperatures as a factor, but we’re near Pasadena and only get down to about freezing two or three nights most years, usually around New Year’s.

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Orbit products are not considered contractor grade. I would go to a wholesale Toro or Rain Bird distributor and buy those products. Do you have a pressure regulator and filter on the drip Zones? By going to a wholesale distributor that also sells retail you will also get good advice. Consider using blank Netafim tubing and then transitioning to Netafim Tech line, Toro DL 2000 or Rain Bird drip tubing instead of this 1/4 inch spaghetti tubing. It is such a maintenance nightmare. I cannot understand why people continue to use spaghetti tubing. I live in a part of the country that gets below zero degrees. It does not harm any drip products. Look at videos on Netafim, Toro and Rain Bird drip installation.

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Robertokc, thanks for the suggestions. We do have pressure regulators and filters on our zones. I see there’s a wholesale shop in our area that carries Netafim and other lines, so I can go check that out.

One thing about our garden is that the plants that require water are spaced very irregularly, so it doesn’t make sense to use lines that contain integrated drippers at fixed intervals. But there may be other stuff that works for our situation.


You can always run blank 17mm tubing where there are no plants and then transition to the tubing with the inline emitters. You can either snake the tubing around the drip line of your plants or make a tree ring with the 17mm barbed fittings. Cover the tubing with mulch or rock if you are in the desert. It’s a good idea to install a flush valve at the end of the line to flush the line several times a year or drain to winterize. If the tubing gets cut by accident just repair with a coupling. The 1/4" tubing is still a good fit to water pots with drippers or microsprinklers. Rain Bird and Toro manufacture a whole line of these.

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