Few homeowners give thought to their garden hose until it is needed to water the lawn and garden. Then leaks and cracks will show up when water is forced through the hose. Most likely, the damage developed because the hose was not stored properly during the winter months. For example, a hose can deteriorate if it is left outside during the winter. Water remaining in the coils is apt to freeze, expand and crack the hose.
Even if the hose is brought indoors, it can still be damaged if it was left to hang on a nail. A nail puts creases in the hose that eventually dry and crack. Ideally, a hose should be drained and wrapped around a reel, or at least placed on the floor in a neat coil.A rubber hose can also deteriorate if it is stored in the same room with an electrical appliance. The electric motor in the appliance generates ozone (an allotropic form of oxygen) that can attack the rubber.
Of course, it is too late to worry about storing the garden hose now, but keep these tips in mind for the end of the season. Now the problem is what to do about a hose that leaks whenever you use it.
Leaks around connections, where the hose is joined to a faucet or a spray nozzle, are easy to correct. They occur because the washer in the coupling has deteriorated. Pry out the old washer and replace it.
Leaks in the body of the hose are more difficult to repair. Before making any repairs, carefully examine the entire hose. One or two cracks can be fixed, but several indicate that the hose is badly deteriorated and probably not worth saving.
There are two ways to repair a damaged section in a hose. A temporary fix can be made with electrical tape. First, clean and dry the hose. Wrap the tape around the damaged section, stretching the tape as you wrap. Do not stretch the first or the last few turns of the tape, otherwise the tape will eventually unravel.
A more permanent repair can be made by replacing the damaged section with a metal hose mender. Hardware stores and home centers stock different types of hose menders. There are three basic types: crimp menders, saddle menders and bushing-coupler menders. All these work well, but before you buy one, measure the inside diameter of the hose. It will be either 1/2-, 5/8-, or 3/4-inch wide. Purchase a mender that fits this diameter.
The first step in installing a mender is to cut out the damaged section of the hose with a utility knife. Make sure the cut ends are perpendicular to the length of the hose. The mender will replace this section and join the two lengths together.
With the crimp-type hose mender, the hose lengths are joined by a corrugated tube that fits between them. The mender has metal fingers that grip the hose ends and keep them from pulling apart. To install the crimp mender, insert one end of the corrugated tube into the hose, then place it on an anvil or wooden block. Hammer down the metal fingers so they grip the hose. Rotate the piece to tap all the fingers into place. Push the other length of hose onto the opposite end of the tube and repeat the crimping procedure.
Collar menders also have a corrugated tube to join the hose together. The pieces are held together with a saddle, two pieces of molded plastic that are screwed in place over the joint.
The bushing mender consists of two couplings, each with its own metal bushing. One coupling is attached to each end of the hose. First the bushing, a tapered metal tube, is inserted in the end of the hose. The hose coupling fits over this and the two are locked together by twisting the bushing in place. You must use a special key (this is included in the mending kit) to turn the bushing.
This installation procedure is repeated on the other section of hose. The two sections are then joined by screwing the couplings together. In essence this mender makes one long hose into two shorter hoses that are joined by mating the couplers.
These repairs are easy to make on rubber hoses because the rubber is soft and relatively flexible. Plastic hoses, on the other hand, are often stiff and difficult to work with. Try dipping the hose end into hot water for a few minutes. This should soften it and make it more pliable.
Now that the hose is repaired, keep it in good condition by draining and coiling it each time you use it. Straighten out any kinks immediately, otherwise they will crease the hose and cause it to crack.