This reducer tee had a right-angle piece break off inside of it for a feeder line.

Broken Pipe

I tried cutting the black broken piece inside of the reducer section without success. I'm used to schedule-40 PVC, not the black line shown in the picture. Is it possible to replace only the right angle piece? These black lines are very stiff and I'd rather not have to dig further back along them to gain the flexibility to replace the reducer tee, not to mention I haven't seen a piece like this at the big-box store from which I've sourced all the parts for this project so far.

If I can't salvage the tee, what's the best way to get it out? I've already cut off the hose clamps, but haven't gone so far as to destructively remove anything from the hose or the tee itself. I can easily replace the clamps - I'm just not sure if I can replace the tee via standard retail channels, and if that replacement would be such a pain that it's worth it to try replacing just the elbow.

2 Answers 2


User Matthew is correct that a nipple extractor may help you salvage the tee.

You need to check the threads in the Tee for any damage, since if the threads are scratched you may get a leak.

If the tee is badly damaged

If the tee can’t be reused, you will need to replace it. This part is readily available at any home-improvement store (but see below).

It’s good that you can remove the pipe clamps if needed, but the Tee fits into the end of the hose with a very tight pressed fit. You may need a “vise-grip” style clamping wrench to get a good enough grip on the fitting.

You may have to cut the black polyethylene hose to get the tee out. In this case you may even need a straight coupler to repair the black hose.

Here is a cheap one for less than a dollar:

coupler This is a relatively fancy one, but even this only costs $1.28:


A word to the wise

Based on personal experience, I have found that big box home improvement stores sell a grade of sprinkler PVC fittings that is not the same as what the professionals use.

For example, the replacement nipple sold at a big box store will cost about 69¢ and be made of a very lightweight grade of poly propylene (PP).

The types of tee, also, used by professionals are much heavier weight and durable. It’s well worth buying a $1.50 tee from a professional plumbing or professional landscaping supply house, rather than the $1.00 tee sold at the big “orange and blue” stores.

When you consider your time, and the damage from having to tear up your grass and dig the hole again when the cheap part inevitably breaks again, it’s no contest.

If you don’t know a local sprinkler store, you can mail order from specialty stores online. You’ll be glad you did.

Don’t use a nipple

These days, a professional sprinkler company/irrigation contractor would not use a “nipple” to replace this fitting, even though you currently have them in the ground in your system.

As you can imagine, any exposed sprinkler head that can get stepped on, run over by a lawnmower, or run over by a car tire if it is next to the driveway, can cause the head to break the nipple off.

Beware this piece of junk: it costs only 59¢ but when it breaks next year, it will cost you another afternoon of your time to replace it.

cutoff nipple- avoid

The correct replacement is to use a flexible riser pipe, or “swing joint”, known in the trade as a “funny pipe.”. Funny pipe is flexible and will protect the fitting from future damage so you don’t have to replace it again.

Any new installation of sprinklers should typically use funny pipe.


  • 2
    This is excellent information! The tight fit of the tee that may require clamping-style wrench ... Is this to get the tee on or off? And how good do the threads have to be? On a scale of smoothly polished, intact, still discernable, or just enough to grab the elbow ... I'm assuming somewhere between intact and smoothly polished would be best? Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 12:04
  • 5
    That black tubing is polyethylene. It responds very nicely to heat, as from a hair dryer or heat gun. Expose several 3 feet of pipe around that tee (ie 1.5 feet on each side, or more on one side and less on the other). Loosen the clamps and move them aside, then warm the pipe gently with hot air (not a flame) until it can be easily pulled off the tee. Then a replacement tee or any of the other fittings above can be installed.
    – Greg Hill
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 17:06
  • @user3.1415927 thanks! I have used the Vise-Grip pliers to get the tee both into and out of the polyethylene (PE) tubing. GregHill ‘s comment below about a heat gun (hair dryer) is an awesome suggestion .. it is almost impossible otherwise without cutting the pipe. (There’s a tool for that too.) As far as the threads, the ultimate goal is that it doesn’t leak water. You can use some [thread sealing (PTFE/Teflon) tape ](en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thread_seal_tape). That is the sort of thing I would happily buy at a box store! Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 0:17
  • Aren't flexible pipe joints of any type MORE prone to eventual leakage from wear? Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 1:59
  • @rackandboneman -- No, "swing joints" or funny pipe works well because there is very little movement of the parts in the ground most of the time. The sprinkler head might move 1" a couple of times a year when a lawnmower runs over it: well within the flexibility of a funny-pipe, but absolutely deadly to a cheap 59¢ plastic fitting that's been out in the cold and become brittle. That's why irrigation pros/contractors use flexible pipe these days. Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 14:45

There is a tool called a nipple extractor. It can be used to remove broken threaded parts just like this.

You can find one online or from any irrigation supply or DIY retailer likely for under $15.

You firmly press it into the broken part and turn to remove it.

enter image description here

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