Sign up ×
Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This seems to be a common issue (drip line barbed couplers leaking) and I can't find any answers about this online. I'm wondering how others have fixed leaks in the fittings that are supposed to just work by popping them into the polyurethane tubing.

It's a pretty basic setup, but I'll describe how it's laid out in my particular case:

I'm installing a simple drip irrigation system for our garden using Rain Bird products. The 1/2" poly line runs from our outdoor spigot about 30' then is terminated at the end by folding it over clamping it at the end with a zip tie.

Near the end of that main line (maybe 8' from the end) a barbed coupler is inserted, with the other end going into about 10' of 1/8" soaker hose that is terminated by a goof plug.

The hole where the barbed coupler fits into the poly tube is leaking (and by leaking I mean spraying water about 12-16" into the air). It isn't positioned at a weird angle, the hole isn't too big, and I did push in the coupler all the way until it "snapped" into place. The coupler sits perpendicularly to the tubing. I've done this before, with some tiny leaks (just some drips), but never such a big leak. I've tried adjusting the position by pulling on the tube or tilting it at various angles, but the water just leaks out of different places.

Could it be because it's the only line coming off the main poly tube? I'm planning on adding several more soaker lines to hit the rest of our garden areas, which will no doubt distribute some of the pressure.

Does anybody have any tricks to sealing barbed coupler fittings so they don't leak?

The barbed coupler I'm talking about looks like this (am I using the wrong part?):

Barbed coupler

share|improve this question
Its dripping. How can you complain of a drip system doing what it is designed to do? – user558 May 26 '13 at 22:08
@woodchips: ... I think you're probably being facetious, but... The fitting and the connection itself is not supposed to leak/drip. Plus, it's a little more than a "drip". ;-) – Aaron Blenkush May 27 '13 at 14:49

3 Answers 3

That looks like a very flimsy coupling, as it barely has anything to hang on to. Better to use a regular PVC barbed coupling, which looks like this:

enter image description here

Usually you use a stainless steel clamp around the connections:

enter image description here

With bigger/thicker pipe, you sometimes need to heat the pipe using a torch slightly -- just get it a bit pliable so you can get the fitting in, but not "melty".

Here's a finished connection (using "white stripe" 75psi poly - in this case as a non-pressurized drain line):

enter image description here

Here's another example showing connections to soaker hoses:

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
Aaron wants to use a 1/8" soaker hose. Your recommendation is not applicable. – Philip Ngai Apr 16 at 16:17
@PhilipNgai The OP stated the leak is in the connection to the regular poly. There's also no reason a soaker hose couldn't be connected the same way, and in fact a couple seconds of searching finds an example (added to my answer). The tiny little barb fitting pictured in the question is simply not going to work well. – gregmac Apr 17 at 1:47

When drip irrigation connectors leak, it is usually because the hole that was punched into the 1/2" hose is too large. This can happen when you try to re-punch the hole because the 1st punch did not go all the through and you can't get your connector into the line. When you try to re-punch a hole it's extremely hard to get the punch in exactly the same spot. Since you are off a tiny bit you actually end up with 2 holes, the one you put the connector into and right next to it a tiny hole that sprays out extra water. I've tried plugging the hole with the large end of the drip irrigation plug and sometimes that will stop the leak. When it does, then I just punch a new hole and try again. When it doesn't, then I use a silicone based glue to put around my connector. I get the type of glue that is good for fish tanks; I figure if it won't kill my fish then it won't contaminate my food.

share|improve this answer

Since you don't mention it, you have probably left out the pressure regulator. The pressure tolerance of drip systems is pretty low. Ideally they like to run around 25-30 PSI. Most homes have 50 PSI or more. In my case, it's 120 PSI.

You should also consider getting a filter at the same time you get the pressure regulator.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.