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I would like to branch off of the tiny 1/4" copper tubing that supplies my refrigerator with water and connect the branch to a hose timer that will auto-water some plants that I have in the kitchen.

This is a picture of the 1/4" copper hose that goes into the fridge: Refrigerator hose

This is a picture of the timer I want to use to water the plants, it has a standard hose connector. auto waterer

The refrigerator hose is closest to the part of the kitchen where I need the water. There is some more standard 1/2" copper pipe in other parts of the kitchen, but it would be much more difficult to pipe the water from those places.

Edit:::

Wanted to share what I ended up doing:

  • Found a 1/4"od compression "T" at Lowes. This allowed me to branch off from the refrigerator line. One thing that I was confused about was that the copper line used for refrigerators is 1/4" od. The "od" means "outer diameter" which is significantly smaller than a 1/4" inner diameter copper pipe.
  • Found a 1/4" od compression fitting to garden hose adapter at Lowes. I was surprised that they carry these. People use copper refrigerator line to make chillers a lot, so maybe that's why they carry them?

These two adapters pretty much did the trick.

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Any reason you're attacking the 1/4" line, rather than the cold water line under the sink? I would think fittings to connect there would be much easier to come by. –  Scivitri Aug 10 '12 at 22:50
    
Yeah, I looked into that. The problem is that it would be much harder to run the pipe from that area. Its really easy to run the line from the fridge area and I don't need very much flow, so the fridge line should do if the only problem is finding the correct fittings. –  Chris Dutrow Aug 10 '12 at 22:54

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You branch off from the copper tubing with a 1/4" compression tee. Cut out a small section of tubing for which the tee replaces. You must use a tubing cutter to do this, any other method will cause the tube to become oval.

Install the short piece removed on the side outlet of the tee. Attach a 1/4" compression x 1/2" pipe thread adapter to the short section. If you can find a tee with a pipe thread side outlet (preferred), skip the previous step.

Connect a 1/2" pipe thread to hose adapter. When buying parts, ensure the male and female parts mate correctly. If you can't find the proper mates, get a short nipple or coupler to change gender. Use several layers of teflon tape on male pipe threads, wrapped in the direction that causes it to get more snug when the pipe is screwed in.

Attach hose and controller. After all this, there probably isn't much pressure left, meaning you could probably transition from hose to 1/4" drip fittings for the run from controller to plants, keeping the installation less obtrusive. If you use pressure adaptive drip fittings, you can better regulate the flow to each plant, otherwise the first plant will get the most water, the last hardly any.

Be careful, though unlikely in this case, as high pressure can cause drip fittings to blow apart. You also can't use most pressure reducers, as they can spill water as they function. You'll probably have to go from hose to 1/2" drip main to 1/4" drip distrubution. The 1/2 to 1/4 punched connection can leak slightly, so it should be done over the first plant.

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There's no reason you can't, you'll just need several couplers along the way, and this will likely end up a very "previous owner"-type solution if you leave it in place. The 1/4" lines do not move much water, so plan accordingly.

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Thanks for your response. What should I start with when branching off from the 1/4" flexible copper tubing? –  Chris Dutrow Aug 10 '12 at 22:30
    
How permanent do you want this to be? I'd do it with a 3/4" hose cap, and drill & tap for brass. –  insta Aug 10 '12 at 22:39
    
Pretty permanent since its inside the house and I wouldn't want a leak. "tap" means to create threads, correct? What tools would I use to do this? Also, I need to "T" off from the fridge line so that it still gets water. What how would I go about doing this? –  Chris Dutrow Aug 10 '12 at 22:57
    
I wouldn't do it with my method then. If it's a permanent installation, I'd suggest plumbing it from the 1/2" lines. Otherwise, go to the hardware store, and look at the push-fit polyethelyne tubing stuff. There's Tees, and adapters of all sorts. Go man-gineer something. –  insta Aug 10 '12 at 23:17

This is a pretty dramatic transition in sizes and connections. You are going from

  • 1/4 inch copper (compression fittings) to
  • 1/4 inch tee to
  • 1/4 to 1/2 adapter to
  • 3/4 inch bibb faucet (or adapter, if you can find) to
  • 3/4 inch hose to
  • 3/4 inch timer to
  • 3/4 inch hose to
  • 3/4 to 1/2 tubing adapter to
  • the irrigation tubing.

As the comments point out, very little pressure through the initial 1/4 inch tubing, and small compression fittings are not meant to be subject to any realy handling or jostling once installed.

If you could find a timer that did not require large hose fittings, you might be able to make a simpler, more stable system.

Lacking that, I would try to tap into a more substantial line such as the 1/2 inch feed lines as suggested by insta.

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Like everyone has said, you're making a big transition. But not one that can't be made. Personally, I'd firmly attach the timer itself to the back of your fridge, then pipe/adapter/transition your way from the timer to the aforementioned 1/4" compression tee. That way the timer always holds still and any garden hose / timer manipulation movements are not transferred to the 1/4" flex copper, because that flex copper will not hold up well if it's subjected to movement very often.

But beyond that caution, go for it. No harm in trying.

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