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My experience with the typical household dripper hoses - like the ones pictured, made of soft ABS, and connected with nipple connectors secured with plastic rings - is that they fail frequently; under pressure, the hose comes off the nipple, leaving a jet of water squirting into the garden. (I have had more luck gradually replacing the failed plastic clips with automotive hose clamps, but they aren't cheap.)

Old system

I am thinking of hiding a distributor hose inside a balcony floor (and from there to planter boxes).

There is limited limited access under the balcony floor. If I do so, repairing a failure will be a half-day job of removing decking boards. I want to avoid that. Also, a long-term slow dripping leak will damage the soffit.

So, for the key sections, I am looking at 15mm polyethylene "rural irrigation pipe" - it is rigid and the ends are threaded. It looks like it would be much more robust and unlikely to leak or disconnect at the connections.

Is that a fair assessment? Am I likely to get a low-maintenance solution if I set-up a network of irrigation pipe with threaded elbow and tee bends? Am I just going to be spending my weekends pulling apart decking to add more plumber's tape?

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I have seen irrigation failures like you describe.

After the faucet (tap) have the automatic valve, then have a pressure limiting device.

Then when the water turns on, the dripper/spray lines wont have high pressure and fail.

Also, in my area at least, a system made of thin tubes is more expensive, and the thin tubes with barbs do blow off.

A system of 13mm (half inch) inner diameter polyethylene pipe and fittings are cheaper than 4mm plasticised PVC.

The ratchet clips that go on the outside of the barb fittings have variable quality, noticeable when I have spent days tightening different brands and breaking some. Cannot mention brands, but the clips made in Adelaide (Australia) are the only ones I use now.

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  • The alternatives I am considering are: (a) 13mm soft poly/ABS hose, connected via nipple connecters, to distribute the water up and through the balcony (stepping down to the 4mm hose before snaking into pots and planters) or 15mm rigid poly pipes, connected via threads, to distribute the water, stepping down to 13mm hose and then 4mm hose where it protrudes outside of the balcony (and I can access it without much work) My question isn't about price but reliability. May 13 at 8:57
  • Having a pressure limited device is a good idea, thanks, but I will fit it further down the pipe, once the water has reached the height of the balcony. May 13 at 8:58

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