The Q&A Archives: Garden Hose Care

Question: Is there a place on your website to read about how to care for a new garden hose?

Answer: Garden hose care is fairly straight-forward. With proper care, garden hoses can last indefinitely. However, we often take them for granted, and as a result, hoses deteriorate.

Hoses must be stored carefully, especially over winter, to preserve them in good condition. Storing them on a reel designed for the purpose indoors or in a garage is best. Water should never be allowed to freeze inside a hose - water expands as it freezes, stretching and weakening the hose material - nor should hoses ever be stored hanging from a nail, which weakens the hose by causing creases. Also avoid creating kinks, which stress the hose by pinching the material when the hose is pulled tight. (I realize it rarely freezes in Orange, but I still think the information is important to know!)

Kinks develop when a hose becomes twisted. To untwist a hose and free it of kinks, lay it out as straight as possible without stretching it, then grasp one end and twirl the hose repeatedly by rotating your arm as if turning a crank. At the same time, shake the hose up and down to send the loop formed by the twirling as far along its length as possible. Twirl experimentally a few times in both directions to determine whether clockwise or counterclockwise rotation is necessary.

When coiling or reeling a hose for storage, twist the loose portion of the hose in the opposite direction to that of the coiling. This will reduce the amount of twist that coiling produces and help prevent new kinks.

Pinhole leaks in a hose can sometimes be temporarily repaired by covering them with waterproof utility tape or electricians' tape. First wipe the area surrounding the leak clean and dry so the tape will adhere. Beginning an inch or two from the leak, wrap two or three turns of tape over each other around the hose, then wrap the tape in a spiral, stretching it as you go and overlapping the edges generously until the leak is covered and the tape extends an inch or so beyond it. Finish by wrapping the tape directly over itself a few times as you did earlier.

Should tape prove insufficient, or should you wish to splice lengths of hose together, inexpensive hose mending and coupling kits designed for the purpose are available at hardware stores, home centers and garden supply stores. Several styles are available. Each is simple to install. One popular repair kit is the metal crimp type illustrated. For replacing hose ends, choose a male or female connector (female hose ends attach to faucets; males to nozzles or sprinklers), or purchase both to splice two lengths of hose together. To repair a leak along a length of hose, choose either a pair of couplings consisting of a male and female connector, or a single mending connector designed for the purpose.

To attach a crimp connector, use a sharp utility knife to cut the hose cleanly behind the end you wish to replace, or on both sides of a leak in a section of hose. It is important that the cut be square: perpendicular to the length of the hose. Then insert the sleeve portion of the connector into the cut end of the hose, until the hose rests firmly against the base of the prongs. If inserting the sleeve is difficult, soak the hose ends in very hot water for a few moments to soften them.

Crimp the prongs, using a hammer. Place the hose on a flat, hard surface and drive the prongs down individually against the hose so that they grip firmly and evenly around its entire circumference.

If a hose leaks at a coupling, first be sure the pieces are screwed tightly together. If the leak remains, replace the washer located inside the female coupling.

Hope this answers all your questions!

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