Choosing and Repairing Garden Hoses

A garden hose is an essential part of your outdoor toolbox. Just think...with one tool, you can wash the car, fill the birdbath, water the geraniums, and spray the kids. But before you go shopping, here are some definitions to help you untangle garden hose terminology. And, if your old water hose is still salvageable, we’ve also included a few tips on how to repair it.

Hose Terminology

Materials - Vinyl and vinyl-reinforced hoses are inexpensive, lightweight and easy to handle. Rubber hoses and hoses reinforced with rubber are heavier and more durable. Because of their durability, rubber hoses have a slightly higher price tag. Reinforced hoses stand up to temperature changes better and are less likely to kink or burst.

Ply - A ply is a layer. More plies means more strength. Household hoses vary from one to six plies. Size - The bigger the diameter, the more water will be delivered. Hoses of 1/2", 5/8", 3/4" and 1" are available. The most common sizes are 3/4" and 5/8".

Length - Hose is sold in increments of 25 feet, usually 25 to 100 feet in total length. Water pressure diminishes as the hose length increases, so buy a hose that’s long enough to reach where you’ll be using it and no longer. If you occasionally require a long hose, buy two shorter ones and combine when needed. If you have two spigots, put one hose at each water supply.

Coupling (or fitting) - The coupling is where the hose attaches to the water supply. Your two main choices are brass and plastic. Brass is more durable than plastic but may be difficult for anyone with limited hand strength to tighten to the spigot. For easy hand tightening, choose a hose with an ergonomically shaped plastic coupling.

Type - In addition to the common type hose, there are other specialty types available.

  • Sprinkler and soaker hoses are made especially for lawn and garden irrigation. Sprinkler hoses are designed for use on the ground surface and also dotted with holes on one side to gently spray upwards. A soaker hose is porous and can be buried under a layer of mulch. The hose leaks small amounts of water directly to your garden’s or flowerbed’s roots with little waste.

  • If you grab an occasional drink from your hose on a hot day, get a hose that’s designated boat, marine, or recreational. Their plastic lining makes them safe for transmitting drinking water. The components used in standard hoses are not always safe for ingestion.

  • A space-saving flat hose expands to its full diameter when the water is turned on and stores flat when not in use.

  • Commercial hoses are designed for hot water and heavy-duty continuous use. A quality hose with the proper nozzle is a good investment. Buy a good one, take care of it and it will last a long time. To prolong the life of your hose:

  • Keep it out of the sun. Hot water expands in the hose; UV rays weaken the material.

  • Coil after use, either by hand or with a hose reel. If the hose kinks, re-roll it immediately to prevent splitting.

  • During winter, drain the hose and store it out of the elements.

Repairing a Hose It’s usually not too difficult to spot a leak in a garden hose. They always seem to be located in just the right spot to spray you in the face, but don’t get mad and throw away the hose. A simple, inexpensive repair may be all that’s needed to put it back in working order.

Tiny hole or small crack: Specially designed hose repair tape is available, or use common electrical tape in a pinch. Clean and dry the hose before applying. Overlap the tape as you wrap it around the hose. Don’t wrap it too tightly or the hose will crease and the tape won’t seal.

Leaking at spigot: A washer replacement is the simplest of all repairs and is often all that’s needed. Washers dry or deteriorate with age. Simply remove the old one and pop in a new one. If it still leaks, replace the coupling.

Large leaks: Replacing a hose end or repairing a centre section are a little more involved, but still a simple job. The repair requires cutting the damaged section out, and replacing with a new part that clamps or crimps on.

When cutting away damaged parts, make straight cuts with a sharp blade. To be certain you get the proper repair part take the removed portion with you when purchasing the replacement. Repair part designs differ by manufacturer. Having the old piece with you helps you make sure you get the right diameter and helps you choose correctly between male or female repair parts. Also make sure that the part you select is the correct one for your hose material, whether rubber or vinyl.

To make replacing fittings easier: * Make sure the hose is clean and dry. * Rub a little soap on the area you’re repairing to make it more pliable and easier to work with.

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