Suppose you have construction going on in your backyard so that a section of sprinkler pipe needs to be disconnected for several days. And suppose it is during the summer when it is nearly a 100°F every day. And suppose your garden is in full swing, getting ready to produce all kinds of bounty. Don’t panic. You can temporarily fix your sprinkler system with a regular garden hose.

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The pipe in question at my house is a 1.5 inch PVC pipe. This measurement refers to the inside diameter.  A long section of it needed to be moved out of the way. One end needed to be temporarily capped off. The other, the side closer to the main water source, needed to be modified so that a hose could be attached. Please note that if the original sprinkler PVC pipe ends had been cut a few inches longer, the couplers would not have been needed. Instead, the modifications could just have been sawed off and the necessary length of pipe inserted. However, digging them out further was not going to work for my husband at this point in the process. the water was already turned off before he started working on the hose installment. Here is his supply list:

  • 3/4 inch plastic nipple (threaded male connections on both ends of nipple)
  • 3/4 inch brass swivel adapter, female connection, connects 3/4 inch (regular garden variety) hose to 3/4 inch standard pipe threads
  • 1.5 inch PVC pipe cap
  • Coupler to attach 1.5 inch PVC pipes
  • 1.5 inch smooth to 3/4 inch threaded PVC pipe reducer (a reducer “changes” or “reduces” the diameter of pipes or connections used from the point of its insertion – this one has to be threaded so that the nipple can be screwed into it)
  • Two approximate 8 inch pieces of 1.5 inch diameter PVC pipe (it might help to think of these as “fake” pipe ends in the photos)
  • Two 1.5 inch PVC unions, optional as mentioned above
  • Pipe tape
  • PVC primer (purple)
  • PVC glue (both sections being attached have both primer and glue applied to them)
  • 2 pipe wrenches
  • 4 pieces of rebar for stakes
  • One on/off lever insert for between hose and faucet (my best description – it is something I already had attached to the hose and he used it, please refer to photo for further identification)

The first few steps don’t need to be done in any particular order. He began by gluing the 1.5 inch PVC cap to the extra section of 1.5 inch PVC pipe. Again, he did this in order to not need to cut the original pipe to remove the cap later. The cap could have been glued right to the end of PVC pipe sticking out if he had enough exposed. With all PVC pipe gluing, he recommends holding the pieces together firmly for 30 seconds while the glue sets.

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A PVC union is a strange piece of PVC pipe that does not need to be glued, hence making it removable. To attach it to another piece of PVC pipe, the ring like screw caps have to be unscrewed from the union and slipped up onto the receiving pipe. Under each union screw cap is a rubber gasket that needs to also be fit over the receiving pipe after the screw cap. Then, the main body of the union is slid up over the gasket and screwed back into its ring.

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All of these steps are repeated when the other end of the union is attached to the remaining piece of pipe, in our case, the sprinkler pipe extending out from the ground. The union has to be screwed on rather tightly to avoid leaking, hence the two pipe wrenches in the supply list. With one wrench holding each screw end of the union, they are turned in opposite directions to tighten everything together.

Next, he glued the 1.5 inch PVC pipe coupler to the other approximately 8 inch piece of 1.5 inch PVC pipe. The glue dries quickly, so he rarely tried to glue more than two pieces at once. After the couple was attached to the pipe extension piece, he glued the reducer to the other end of the coupler.

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He now proceeded to wrap pipe tape around the threads on one end of the black plastic nipple. This is supposed to be done in the direction so that the screwing action will go in the same direction as the outer end of pipe tape, causing it to stay flat (and not get bunched up by being pushed off). This tape is not sticky, but is designed to help fill the space between the threads more completely to avoid leaking. The tape only needs to be on about half of the nipple threads.

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The 3/4 inch black plastic nipple is what will allow the brass swivel to connect to the PVC pipe reducer, so the other end of the nipple will also have pipe tape wrapped onto the end of it before it is screwed into the threaded 3/4 end of the PVC pipe reducer. If you have been doing all of these steps to the actual sprinkler pipe ends outside, all you should need to do now is attach your hose. This assumes that the other end of the hose is already attached to a faucet that is part of the sprinkler section that needs this temporary set-up. The faucet that would normally be turned off and on to use the end of the hose now attached to your sprinkler pipe needs to be left open when you want water out of any of the faucets or sprinklers in that zone. Recall that we also used the “on/off lever insert” to turn the water off and on to this temporary fix for the system.

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For him, it was time to move outside to completely use the PVC pipe unions. When we tested the set-up the first time, the water pressure caused the union to start to slide loose. He yelled at me to turn the main water off, then he found four pieces of rebar to block this from happening, two of them also placed at the capped union just in case. As a precaution, however, we will only have the water on during the day when I need to use it, and only run the sprinklers when we can keep an eye on the connection. But, meanwhile, the hose can easily be positioned out of the way of the construction, or removed when they need to work directly in that area. And I can water my garden without worrying about how long the construction takes.

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