Skip to content
Home >> Plumbing >> Pipes >> Fittings >> How To Remove Barbed Drip Irrigation Fittings – 3 Effective Methods and Safety Tips

How To Remove Barbed Drip Irrigation Fittings – 3 Effective Methods and Safety Tips

Barbed drip irrigation fittings are made from polypropylene materials to prevent them from snapping when kicked or hit. Because of this, the fittings are difficult to remove despite being easy to install.

So then, how do you remove barbed drip irrigation fittings? Well, there are 3 ways to extract the barbed fittings from your drip irrigation pipes or tubing. The first method involves wiggling the fittings or tubing and then pulling them out. Alternatively, you can cut the tubing and pull out the fittings or use a heat source to soften the pipes.

But can you remove and reuse barbed drip irrigation fittings? Read on to find out. This article also explains how and when to remove the fittings. 

Understanding Barbed Drip Irrigation Fittings

As the name suggests, barbed drip irrigation fittings are used in drip irrigation systems. The fittings are small connectors manufactured from polypropylene and used to join pieces of tubing or polyethylene pipes. Typically, these connectors comprise a sharp barbed end and a threaded end.

That said, you can use the fittings with 1/4”, 1/2″, 3/4″, and a few 1” tubing sizes. This gives you the flexibility to modify your drip irrigation system.

And like push-on irrigation fittings, you just push the fittings into the open end of a drip irrigation tubing. The sharp barbs will keep the fitting secure. Unfortunately, once you insert the fittings, removing them is very difficult.

How to Remove Barbed Drip Irrigation Fittings?

how to remove barbed drip irrigation fittings

Barbed drip irrigation fittings may be easy to install without tools, especially at lower pressures. But once in, the fittings become laborious to remove. Below is how to dislodge them.

Method 1: Pull Out the Tubing or Fittings

  1. If there is a tubing clamp, slide it away from the fittings to remove it.
  2. Next, twist the tubing or wiggle it from side to side.
  3. And once you see the tubing moving, try pulling it out as hard as possible.
  4. Alternatively, you can use pliers to grip the fittings.
  5. Then, gently twist them back and forth while pulling them out of the tubing.

Unfortunately, this method can be time-consuming, tiresome, and may destroy the barbed fittings.

Method 2: Cut the Tubing

This is the best method of removing barbed drip irrigation fittings when you don’t want to damage the fitting. After all, you can always buy new inexpensive tubing.

Even better, unlike the first method, it does not require excessive force to remove the fittings.

  1. You simply cut the tubing on both sides of the fittings using a poly pipe cutter or ratchet shears.
  2. Then, use an adjustable spanner and a socket wrench to loosen the fittings from the tubing.
  3. Next, rotate the fittings outwards by hand to remove them.

Method 3: Use a Heat Source

  1. Additionally, you can cut the tubing fitted with the barbed drip irrigation fittings.
  2. Then, soak the tubing with the fittings in boiling water. This will soften the tubing, making it easy to remove the fittings by sliding them out.
  3. Alternatively, you can use a heat gun or hair dryer without having to cut the tubing. A heat gun works best if the pipes have water, while a hair dryer is ideal when the pipes are empty. You just heat up the pipes using a little heat to soften them.
  4. Then, wiggle the tubing back and forth as you pull it away from the barbed fittings.

When Should You Remove Barbed Drip Irrigation Fittings?

There are many situations that may force you to dislodge barbed drip irrigation fittings. These include:

Leak Repair

If you spot a leak in the fittings or tubing, you may have to remove the fittings first to fix the leak.

Damaged or Worn-out Tubing and Fittings

Over time, the tubing and the fittings may get damaged or wear out. In this case, you must replace these components. And to do so, you must remove the old fittings and tubing.

Winterize the Irrigation System

If you live in a place that frequently experiences freezing temperatures, you may have to constantly drain water from the irrigation system. This is to protect the pipes from damage. In this case, you would have to remove the barbed fittings first.

Can You Remove and Reuse Barbed Drip Irrigation Fittings?

Yes, you can remove and reuse barbed drip irrigation fittings unlike some pipe fittings, including the compression fittings. However, you have to use the method of cutting the tubing. This method only damages a section of the tubing which is inexpensive to replace but not the fittings.

However, during the repair, you may need to use barbed couplers on the threaded end of the fittings. You can use the couplers to extend the overall length of the pipes or splice in the new piece of tubing.

Safety Tips for Removing Barbed Drip Irrigation Fittings

While removing barbed drip irrigation fittings, you risk injuring yourself or damaging your irrigation system. Below are safety tips to help you minimize all these.

  • Make sure to put on protective gloves to safeguard your hands against the sharp ends of the irrigation tubing or fittings.
  • Use the right tools, such as pipe cutters or pliers, to safely remove fittings without injuring yourself.
  • If the fittings are stuck, don’t use excessive force to pull them out as you could get hurt in the process. Instead, use a hair dryer, boiling water, or heat gun to get the fittings unstuck.
  • Turn off the water supply to your drip irrigation system before removing the fittings. This is because the water may spray out and create a slip hazard.
  • Don’t use a heat gun to warm up the tubing when the pipes have no water or use a lot of heat. The pipes could easily get burned.
  • Dispose of the fittings and tubing safely because they can cause a hazard if you leave them lying around.


In this section, we will respond to frequently asked queries regarding how to remove barbed drip irrigation fittings.

Q: Do I need special tools to remove barbed drip irrigation fittings?

No. However, having the right tools is essential because it can make the job easier. The most common tools you will need are pipe cutters for cutting the tubing and pliers. You may also need a hair dryer or heat gun if the fittings are stuck.

Q: Can I remove barbed drip irrigation fittings without damaging the tubing?

Yes, if you pull out the fittings or tubing gently or use a hair dryer to soften the pipe. However, the sections where the fittings sit may get damaged, especially when you have to cut the tubing.

Q: Can you remove barbed drip irrigation fittings while the system is under pressure?

No, it is not recommended. This is because when the irrigation system is under pressure, water may spray out uncontrollably and cause injury or damage to the system. So, before removing the fittings, you must relieve any pressure within the system.

Final Words

Barbed drip irrigation fittings are easy to work with and low maintenance, making them the best connectors for irrigation systems. However, the fittings are not easy to take out whether you want to do a leak repair or a replacement.

Even so, you can still remove the fittings by pulling out the tubing or the connectors. You can also remove these components by cutting the tubing or using a heat source like a hair dryer, boiling water, or heat gun. With that said, there are several tips to keep in mind while unfastening the fittings to minimize the risk of injury.