DEAR MIKE: Although my patio cover does a nice job of keeping the sun away, it's still hot out there. Do you think a misting system would help and, if so, how much it would cost? -- Leon H.
DEAR LEON: You bet it would help -- misters can cool things down by as much as 20 degrees.
There are two types of systems available, both of which can be found at a home center. Expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $200 depending upon how many linear feet you'll need.
The first and least expensive system is made up of half-inch PVC pipe with nozzles that are built into half-inch couplings that glue onto the piping. All you need to do is buy the number of nozzles needed, some fittings to attach it to the water supply, glue it all together then hang it from the patio cover. This system is unsightly, though, because it's bulky and the glue can run down the piping if you're not careful.
The other system uses three-eighths inch flexible hose, and no glue. This kit's base cost is around $40 and is enough to cover about 12 linear feet of mist area. All of the necessary fittings are included. Although more expensive than the other system, the nozzles are brass and the hose is easy to maneuver. It is also less noticeable than the PVC pipe. In addition, you can add more lengths of tubing and nozzles to your heart's content.
Regardless of which system you choose, the first step in its assembly is to connect the water feed line to the water source. Usually, the hose spigot is handy. If you're using PVC, you'll need to purchase a fitting and a valve to tie into the water supply (This usually involves sweating the fitting on.). For the hose system, just slip the brass hose adapter (It's also included in the kit.) onto the end and screw it onto the spigot. At this point, turn the water on and blow out any debris in the hose.
If your patio cover is made of wood, use the hanging clamps that come in the kit because they have nails that will hold the hose securely to the wood. If your patio cover is made of aluminum, don't use these clamps. Instead, use plastic cable clamps (about $2 for a pack of 20). Use five-eighths inch self-tapping screws to hold them in place.
Now you're ready to bring the hose up the wall, just to the underside of the patio cover. You'll have to decide if you want to mount the nozzles on the inside, the underside or the outside of the patio cover. (If you mount them on the outside, they won't be visible, but your ability to direct the mist may be impeded.)
If you're mounting the nozzles between 8-feet and 10-feet high, space them 24 inches apart and at least 24 inches from the house.
For the PVC system, you'll need to prime and glue the fittings together. For the hose system, just push the hose into the nozzle and twist. Pull out on the outer ring of the nozzle to lock in the hose. Secure each nozzle by attaching a clamp three inches from either side of the nozzle.
To change the direction of the mist line, use 90-degree elbows and tee fittings. The brass fittings for the hose system cost about $5 each. For the PVC, the fittings are about 50 cents each.
Cut the PVC with a PVC pipe cutting tool (about $12); it makes a perfectly smooth cut. I discourage you from using a hacksaw, because the burrs left on the end of the pipe may clog the nozzles. You can also use the pipe cutting tool or a sharp utility knife to cut the tubing on the other system.
Follow the perimeter of the patio cover until you've reached the end of the mist line, where you will cap it. Before capping, however, turn on the water to blow out any debris in the line.
On the PVC system, glue on a half-inch cap. On the hose system, insert the brass end-plug, which also is included in the kit.
Slowly turn on the water -- it doesn't take much pressure. There shouldn't be any leaks in the PVC system. If there's a leak in the hose system, disconnect the fitting in question and make sure the rubber O-ring is in place.
It's normal to get a slow drip as the nozzle is misting. However, if the nozzle is dripping and not misting, it's clogged. Disassemble it and clean it out.
All of the nozzles will need periodic maintenance. You can use liquid nozzle cleaner to dissolve mineral deposits, or you can replace the nozzles.
I'll bet you'll enjoy your misters so much that you'll want to move indoor activities outdoors. Just don't shower under them -- at least not in front of the neighbors.