Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Veteran Advisor

Clean Field Drainage Tile

I have a 4" corrugated perforated field tile that has several plugs in it.  The tiler suggests it is cheaper to install a new line.


First, I'd like to try to clear it without digging it up every 100 feet to clear plugs.  Does anyone know of a way to clean 1000' of tile?

0 Kudos
3 Replies
Honored Advisor

Re: Clean Field Drainage Tile

If you dig down to the tile every 100` and have a gas powered pressure washer, you might squirt enough to get it going.  There`s attachments you can buy too.   The thing is a partially working tile is worse than no tile at all, so you should try and get in working.   Here`s some ideas. 



Unplugger Machines For Clogged Drainage Tile


If you've been debating what to do with field drainage tile that's plugged up and no longer doing its job, you may want to check out a custom "unplugger", or a do-it-yourself "unplugger" machine.
FARM SHOW contacted three custom-operators who specialize in removing sand, dirt, crop roots, mineral deposits and other debris from plastic, clay or concrete field drain-age tile.
"I've got more custom cleaning business than I can handle," says Frans Frijters, of Brunner, Ont., who for the past five years has been "unplugging" clogged drainage tile for area farmers with his Douven tile-cleaning machine, manufactured in Holland. He charges $50 an hour to custom clean tile lines with his 3-pt. tractor-mounted machine which drives off the tractor's pto. He is also a sales representative for the Douven machine for North America. It sells for $6,700 (Canadian dollars) and is the lowest priced tile-cleaning machine we know of for doing the job yourself. It'll clean out all types of lines ù whether plastic, clay or concrete, up to 12 in. in diameter, says Frijters.
Key to the Douven machine's cleaning ability is a special spray head which has 13 jet nozzles ù 12 shooting streams of water in reverse and one shooting out a forward stream. The forward jet stream loosens the sand, dirt, sediment or other obstructing material, and the reverse streams provide the propelling power to flush it out.
The spray head is attached to 1,000 ft. of 3/4 in. dia., hose wrapped around a large powered reel. A pto-driven piston pump moves clean flushing water under about 900 lbs. pressure at the rate of 29 gals. per min. Hose is gradually fed into the tile line with a belt-driven, push-pull device which an operator controls with a hand-operated lever.
"If the plugging problem is due largely to sediment buildup, it may take only a few minutes to flush out each 1,000 ft. of tile. If it's plugged solid, it can take a lot longer. I've never encountered a tile I couldn't get unplugged; but some jobs have been a real challenge. I remember one where an 8 in. line was plugged solid with manure and dirt runoff from a feedlot. Took me 8 hrs. to go 1,300 ft. but I got it unplugged," he told FARM SHOW.
The usual procedure for flushing out tile lines is to feed the full 1,000 ft. length of hose into one end of the line, then reset the machine and dig down enough to reinsert the hose for each additional 1,000 ft. "bite" until the line has been completely cleared. A tank of clean water has to be hauled to the site for flushing if no canal or other water source is available.
For more information on the Douven machine (don't call or write Frijters about doing custom work since, he says, he's not able to handle any more than the calls he gets from his own community), contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Douven Tile Cleaner, Frans Frijters, Brunner, Ont., Canada NOK 1CO (ph 519 595-8232).
In Indiana, Don Neidlinger, of Culver, custom cleans field drainage tile with a large machine manufactured by the F. C. Myers Co., Ashland, Ohio.
"I started out with a small foreign-made machine driven off a tractor pto. But I found it was too small and too limited for doing custom work," he told FARM SHOW. "My Myers machine operates on 1,600 lbs. pressure and flushes at the rate of 68 gals. per minute. We use 1,200 ft. of hose and bring it out one-third as fast as it goes in to completely flush the line under pressure."
Neidlinger says he'll go "most anywhere" with his portable rig if enough custom jobs can be lined up in an area to justify the travel expense. His going rate for flushing field drainage tile is 10 cents per running foot. Dirt or sand buildup usually isn't any problem to remove. Buildups of iron bacteria and mineral deposits can be stubborn if they've been building up over a long period of time. If a section of tile line has collapsed or flipped out of position, his hose is measured so he can pinpoint the exact spot to dig down to find the problem.

0 Kudos
Senior Contributor

Re: Clean Field Drainage Tile

A few questions here Jim,  When was the tile installed?  Any thoughts on what caused the plug, collapsed , silted in, small water varmint?  I wouldn't have thought you would have problems yet with plastic field tile ( 45 years old at the oldest?)  A year ago I had my tiler hook on to a 10 year old plastic tile and we noticed it was collapsed a little (top down).  I'm a little concerned just how long this plastic tile will work.  I often thought the tile rigs should squeeze the tile  a little with wheels to make it a little elliptical  just before it scrapes dirt on top.

There was an out fit around here a few years back that would use a water jet with high pressure water to un-plug tiles.  Not really sure how well it worked?


0 Kudos
Veteran Advisor

Re: Clean Field Drainage Tile

I'm finding grass roots in the plastic tile.  There is one spot it goes under a waterway.  But, I don't' have this kind of problem in any of our other tiles that is also sometimes close to grass.  I'm thinking the grass roots die and get washed down to congregate in bunches and start catching silt.  The plugs are not always where the roots would grow.  There is an open standpipe on the upper end so soil could get in, but based on the setup I don't think soil washing is is a huge problem.


Where we dug it up I don't see any evidence that the tile collapsed.  It's only 5-8 years old.  It does not have a lot of fall, but an adjacent clay tile 100 years old is running fine.



0 Kudos