A good garden hose should last five to 10 years, but many home owners replace a hose every year or two because of leaks, cracks or rot. How to prolong the life of your hoses…
- Don’t buy an extra-long hose. The longer a hose is, the harder it is to move around and store, and the more likely you are to yank, twist and snag it. Wherever possible, use a 25- or 50-foot hose instead of a 75- or 100-foot one.
- Don’t drag the hose by the spray nozzle. Doing so weakens the coupling where the hose and nozzle connect—a major source of leaks. Better: Pull the hose itself rather than the nozzle.
- Drain the hose at the end of the day. Turning the water off at the spray nozzle does not release built-up pressure. If you leave a hose continuously pressurized for long periods, it can stretch out the inner tube and increase the chance of leaks.
Instead: Shut off the water at the spigot, then turn on the spray nozzle until the water is expelled.
- Avoid exposure to direct sunlight for long periods. The sun’s UV rays can break down the hose’s outer lining and lead to cracks…and water left in the hose heats up and expands, weakening the inner tube.
- Roll up your hose between uses instead of leaving it in a pile, which creates kinks that can lead to tears and cracks. If you don’t have a hose reel, loop it around the bottom of a large empty trash can that you can lift when you want to free the hose. This is especially important if you are likely to roll over an uncoiled hose with your car or wheelbarrow.
- For pinhole leaks: Clean and dry the area with a rag, and apply a thin layer of rubber cement or the type of glue used to repair bicycle inner tubes. When the glue is dry, wrap the area tightly with self-fusing silicone rubber tape, which stretches and creates a watertight seal.
- For larger or recurring leaks: Buy a splice repair kit with two slip-on clamps and a brass connector for about $10. Cut out the damaged section of hose with gardening shears. Soak the cut ends of the hose in hot, soapy water to lubricate them. Slip one of the clamps over a cut section of the hose, insert one end of the connector into the hose, then tighten the clamp. Repeat the process on the other section of hose.
- For leaks at the point where the hose attaches to the spigot: Check the coupler on the end of the hose. If the rubber washer inside is shriveled, damaged or missing, replace it. If the coupler itself is damaged, slice off the hose near the coupler and buy a repair kit with a replacement coupler (about $10).
Helpful: Since this end of the hose is especially prone to tugging, which causes kinks and leaks, consider installing a “hose saver”—a six-inch piece of hose that is wrapped in a heavy steel spring with couplings on either end. Cost: About $5.