Does Your Soaker Hose Need A Pressure Reducer?

Soaker hoses are a great way to water your garden, but you may do more harm than good if you don‘t have a pressure reducer. A pressure reducer will keep the water flowing steadily to prevent your hose from leaking or bursting. But how do you know if your soaker hose needs a pressure reducer?

You need a pressure reducer if watering is inconsistent, the soaker hose leaks or bursts, or there are waterlogged areas in your garden. Other ways to tell if you need a pressure reducer are water flowing quickly from the pores, the hose making a hissing sound, or cracks or splits in the hose.

Let‘s look at what a pressure reducer is and how to determine if your soaker hose needs one. You‘ll also find out what happens if you don‘t use a pressure reducer and how to choose and install the right one for your soaker hose.

What is a Pressure Reducer?

Blueberries field drip irrigation system

A pressure reducer, or pressure regulator, is a device that controls the water pressure in your soaker hose. Too much pressure can cause your hose to leak or burst and damage your plants. A pressure reducer keeps the water pressure consistent, preventing these problems.

Most soaker hoses have a maximum operating pressure of 60 psi (pounds per square inch), while the average residential water pressure is around 45 to 80 psi, depending on your municipality.

However, this does not mean water should flow through the hose at maximum pressure. For example, most soaker hoses work best with a water pressure of 8 to 10 psi (pounds per square inch) because higher pressures can cause the water to spray out of the hose rather than seep into the ground.

So, a pressure reducer helps to maintain lower pressure, even if your water pressure is higher.

Does a Soaker Hose Need a Pressure Reducer?

If you‘re unsure whether your soaker hose needs a pressure reducer, you can check a few things:

Check the Manual

Some soaker hoses come with a pressure regulator already attached. If this is the case, you won‘t need to install one separately. Instead, check the manufacturer‘s instructions to see if your hose has a pressure reducer.

Note: A pressure regulator is not the same as a flow or restrictor disc, which may come with some soaker hoses. The flow disc is a small, round device that screws onto the end of the hose to limit water flow. It does not reduce the water pressure.

Check the Water Pressure

If the water pressure in your home is over 60 psi, you will need to install a pressure reducer on your soaker hose because many soaker hoses have a maximum operating pressure of 60 psi. On the other hand, too much water pressure can damage the hose and reduce its effectiveness.

Look for Leaks

High water pressure can create splits or holes in your soaker hose, causing water to leak. If you notice any leaks, you‘ll need to install a pressure reducer to lower the pressure and prevent further leaks.

Measure the Flow Rate

If the water flows out of the hose too quickly, it could lead to problems such as oversaturation and runoff. A pressure reducer will help you regulate the flow rate and prevent these issues.

Listen for a Hissing Sound

If you hear a hissing sound coming from your soaker hose, it may indicate that the water pressure is too high. A pressure regulator will help to reduce this noise and protect your hose from damage.

What Happens if You Don‘t Use a Pressure Reducer?

Using a soaker hose without a pressure reducer can create numerous problems, such as putting too much stress on the hose, causing it to leak or break. Other common issues include:

Waterlogged Plants

The water flow will be too strong if you do not use a pressure reducer on your soaker hose. It can overwhelm your plants and lead to waterlogging, when the roots of your plants are saturated with water and can no longer take in oxygen, causing them to suffocate and die. 

Cracks in Your Soaker Hose 

Another risk of not using a pressure regulator is that the high water pressure can cause cracks or leaks in your soaker hose. Once your soaker hose leaks, it will be less effective at delivering water to your plants. In addition, the leaks can waste a lot of water and cost you money. 

Premature Damage to Your Soaker Hose

If you do not use a pressure reducer, the high pressure will strain your soaker hose and cause it to wear out more quickly. As a result, you will need to replace it sooner or repair it more often than if you had used a pressure regulator. 

Inconsistent Watering

Without a pressure reducer, the water flow from your soaker hose will be inconsistent as the pressure fluctuates. So, some areas of your garden may get too much water while other areas are not getting enough. That can lead to dry patches in your garden and make it difficult for your plants to thrive.

How to Choose a Pressure Reducer

When choosing the correct pressure reducer for your soaker hose, you might wonder what to look for. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Check the GPM Rating

You‘ll want to check the pressure reducer‘s gallons per minute (GPM) rating. That will tell you how much water the reducer can handle. Next, choose a pressure reducer with a GPM rating higher than your soaker hose‘s flow rate. 

Check the PSI Rating 

Make sure the pressure reducer is rated for the correct PSI. For most soaker hoses, you‘ll want a pressure reducer with a PSI rating of 10 or less. However, you may need a pressure reducer with a higher PSI rating if you have a higher-pressure hose. 

Consider the Material

Pressure reducers are usually made of brass, stainless steel, or plastic. Each material has its benefits and drawbacks. 

  • Brass: Brass is a durable material that can withstand high water pressure. However, it is also one of the more expensive options. 
  • Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is a durable option resistant to corrosion, but it is one of the more expensive materials. 
  • Plastic: Plastic is a less expensive option that is also lightweight and easy to install. However, it is not as durable as brass or stainless steel and can break down over time. 

Choose the Type of Reducer

There are two main types of pressure reducers: inline and adjustable. Both effectively reduce the water pressure from your soaker hose and have their benefits and drawbacks.

  • Inline: Inline pressure reducers are installed directly on your hose. They are less expensive than adjustable pressure reducers and can be easier to install. However, they cannot be adjusted. These are good options if you know the PSI rating of your water pressure and do not need to change it.
  • Adjustable: Adjustable pressure reducers are installed on the end of your hose. They are more expensive than inline pressure reducers but can be adjusted to change the water pressure. That can be helpful if you need to change the water pressure for different plants or garden beds. They also have a gauge so you can easily see the current water pressure. 

Your Budget

Pressure regulators can range in price from $5 to $50 or more. So, you‘ll want to consider your budget and how many soaker hoses you need to use before making a purchase. 

Also, you may need to replace your pressure reducer occasionally, especially if it is made of plastic and exposed to the elements. 

How to Install a Pressure Reducer onto Your Soaker Hose

New drip irrigation system in greenhouse

Now that you know how to choose the correct pressure reducer, it‘s time to learn how to install it. Luckily, installing a pressure reducer is a relatively straightforward process. Just follow these steps: 

  1. Start by turning off the water at the main water valve. That will prevent water from flowing through the hose while installing the pressure reducer. 
  1. Next, disconnect the end of the hose from the water source to install an inline pressure reducer.
  1. Then, screw the pressure reducer onto the hose.
  1. Finally, reconnect the hose to the water source. 
  1. If you are using an adjustable pressure reducer, install it on the faucet after the backflow preventer and timer (if you have one).
  1. Once the pressure reducer is in place, turn on the water at the main water valve and check for leaks. If there are any leaks, tighten the fittings until they stop. 
  1. With the pressure reducer installed on your soaker hose, turn on the faucet a quarter turn and make adjustments as necessary.

Water should seep out of the soaker hose slowly and steadily. If water sprays out of the hose, the pressure is too high. If the water trickles out, that means the pressure is too low. 

What are the Best Pressure Reducers on the Market?

A plumber holding a new water flow regulator

With so many options available, choosing the best pressure reducer for your soaker hose can seem daunting. Here are two of the best pressure reducers on the market: 

Senninger 10 PSI Inline Pressure Reducer

The Senninger 10 PSI Inline Pressure Reducer (on Amazon) offers a simple design that is easy to install and use. Corrosion-resistant thermoplastics are used to house metal components. This pressure reducer is factory preset at 10 PSI and cannot be adjusted.

Senninger is known in the industry for quality products and offers a two-year warranty on its product materials, workmanship, and performance.

Accumeter Lead-Free Adjustable Pressure Reducer

The Accumeter Lead-Free Adjustable Pressure Reducer (on Amazon) is made of durable brass for long-lasting use. Preset at 45 PSI, it can be adjusted from 0 to 160 PSI by turning the brass screw on top. This pressure reducer also has a gauge so you can easily see the current water pressure and has built-in oil to prolong the lifespan of the meter.

While it‘s perfect for gardens, the adjustable feature makes it ideal for use in an RV.

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