Common Garden Hose Problems

pinhole leak in hose

Why do garden hoses kink? And why does it leak at the tap? There are plenty of questions about garden hoses on the web. They’re seemingly simple devices can cause a major headache when they leak, break, or start to get bent out of shape. So, we here at Dreamy Home decided to gather the most commonly-asked questions about common garden hose problems and wrapped them up with an answer and little bow – just for you.

So what’s on the docket today?

Today’s Topics Include:

Wow! That was a mouthful. Now let’s dive right in, shall we?

Garden Hose 101

garden hose

There’s no sense in wasting time. Let’s just get into the nitty-gritty world of garden hoses – how do they work, why do they fail, and can you play jump rope with them? You know, the important stuff.

Why Does My Garden Hose Leak at the Tap?

If your garden hose leaks at the tap, there are a few potential causes. Luckily, each is a super quick, cheap, and easy fix, so no worries there.

Your garden hose leaks at the tap because:

  • The gasket has worn out
    • Inspect the gasket (small rubber O-ring) at the end of your hose where it meets the tap. Chances are, the gasket in the tap or hose is worn and needs to be replaced.
  • The connector’s threading is failing
    • You can either buy a new connector or temporarily use Teflon (PTFE) tape to solve the threading issue – this is not a long-term solution though, so don’t leave it. If you do, you’ll regret it – you’ve been warned.
  • Your adaptor (if you have one) is failing
    • If your hose and tap are different sizes, you’ll be using a thread adaptor. If it leaks at the adaptor, simply replace it and the problem will resolve itself.

And that’s that!

Why Does My Garden Hose Leak at the Faucet?

leaking outdoor tap

This is one of those questions from Google that’s doubled-up with different phrasing.

If your faucet (a.k.a. tap) is leaking when connected to your hose, take a peek at the above issues. Specifically, your thread adaptor, connector, and gasket – the cause lies in one of those three places.

Can You Leave a Garden Hose under Pressure?

Leaving a garden hose under pressure over long periods of time will result in a crack or tear at some point in your hose. They’re not designed for long-term exposure to high water pressure (unless explicitly stated otherwise).

While it’s totally okay to (for example) leave the hose “on” with your spray nozzle “off,” it’s only okay in short stretches of time. The longer it’s left on, the more likely you are to have a crack, tear, or failure somewhere along the line.

Why Does My Garden Hose Leak at the Connection?

If your garden hose leaks at the connection to your tap, it’s likely that you either have an old gasket, a failed connector, or a stripped adaptor. Inspect each of these (specifically the threading on the latter two) and you’ll find the source of your issue.

And luckily, the most expensive possible fix here is only ~£10-15.

Why Does My Garden Hose Nozzle Leak?

leaking garden hose nozzle

If the spray nozzle on your hose is leaking, there are a few potential causes:

  • You have a damaged/failing gasket in the nozzle itself
  • The nozzle’s threading is stripping
  • The coupling (where the nozzle attaches to the hose) is physically bent somewhere.

Each of these can be fixed, but unless you have a fancy-schmancy nozzle, it’s likely just as cost-effective (and more time-effective) to just replace your spray nozzle.

How Much Pressure Can a Garden Hose Take?

We actually dove pretty in-depth into this question in another article, our “Garden Hoses & Water Pressure” piece, so check that out for more detailed information.

However, the general rule of thumb is that unless otherwise stated, most garden hoses can handle between 200-400 PSI (13.78-27.57 Bar) on average. It’s worth noting that most standard hoses are in the lower range listed. Always inspect your hose’s limits before trying to run high-pressure water through it – just trust me.

Why Does My Garden Hose Keep Bursting?

If your garden hose keeps bursting, there are a few potential causes:

  • Damage (duh)
    • If your hose is wearing down near the burst spot, this is a likely cause. Inspect your hose for damage and wear.
  • Your water pressure is too high
    • As mentioned above, most hoses can only handle minimal water pressure. If your home’s system is set to too high of a water pressure, your hose will burst.
  • Kinks
    • We’ll talk more about this below, but kinks can cause water to build up and try to find less-than-ideal escape points.
  • Your clamp/connector is improperly sized
    • Always double-check your measurements when buying adaptors.
  • Previous repair
    • If the hose has been repaired before, it’ll likely burst in the same spot. This is more common with poor repairs, so check out our hose repair guide to do it right the first time.
  • Poor storage
    • If you store your hose in an overly hot or cold place (especially if it freezes or sits in direct sunlight) it’ll wear down. Don’t do that!
  • Cheap hose
    • Cheap stuff breaks more easily than expensive stuff. So be honest – did you cheap out on the hose? If so, that’s why it’s bursting.
  • You didn’t pay attention to burst pressure
    • When buying a hose, check its burst pressure. If you didn’t do this, see what your current hose’s burst pressure is by contacting the manufacturer – that may be your issue.

Will a Hose Burst if Left On?

another leaking hose

Yes, a hose will burst if left on for too long.

However, this is entirely dependent on how long the hose is left on. If it’s a matter of hours, you’re likely fine. But if it’s for 12+ hours, let alone a whole weekend (or longer), a few things will happen:

  • You’ll get a massive water bill at the end of the month.
  • Your hose will have burst in several places, ruining it.
  • The surrounding property (including your house, potentially) will be flooded and severely waterlogged/damaged.

And then there’s the worst-case scenario – you have a really well-made spray nozzle and a really good hose with a super high bursting point. This is when the tap (more specifically, its gasket and safety mechanisms) can fail. The water will build up in your hose, unable to escape, eventually finding its escape backwards into your plumbing and home.

So long story short, do not leave your hose on unless it’s supervised and limit the amount of time you use it to ~3 hours max. Water damage is no joke, and you don’t want to be on its bad side.

Why Does My Hose Bubble?

If your hose bubbles, there are three primary potential causes:

  • Your hose is too short
    • When hoses take in water, the amount of water varies from second to second. As such, the hose needs to be able to expand and move about to accommodate the varying volume of water. A hose that’s too short for the job (i.e. you’re stretching it to get where you need it) will bubble when more water suddenly comes through with nowhere to go.
    • Psssst… this is why hoses are made from rubber or latex – both are extremely flexible.
  • You have too low of a burst point in your hose for your home’s water pressure
    • The average burst point of most hoses is between 200-400 PSI (13-27 Bar). If your hose is a cheap one (or just not specially designed for high pressure) it will bubble shortly before bursting (hence the name “bursting point”).
  • Your hose is damaged
    • Often hoses will wear down at specific stress points. If your hose is doing this, it’ll bubble in weakened spots first.

In short, if your hose is bubbling, it’s either too short or has too low of a bursting point for the current pressure. And as always, if your hose starts to bubble, inspect the section that is bubbling for any visible damage, repairing it as needed.

How Do I Fix My Garden Hose That Is Expanding?

We’ve actually covered this in an extensive article on garden hose repair! Head on over for a detailed explanation of how to fix an expanding garden hose (as well as a load of other helpful tips).

How Do You Fix a Blown Garden Hose?

Once again, I’m going to refer you to our repair article (linked above). The long and short of it is to purchase a hose repair kit for breaks smaller than 1 cm and follow its instructions. For small (smaller than 1 cm) holes, patch it with electrical tape, wrapping liberally 1-2 cm on each side of the hole.

How Do You Stop a Hose from Popping Up?

Quick Disconnect Connector/Fitting

If your garden hose keeps popping up off of its housing (either on the nozzle or tap), it’s likely that you just have a low-quality Quick Disconnect Connector (QDC). These are the small connectors that you push down to remove a hose, often on air and liquid lines to power tools and, clearly, garden hoses (pictured above).

Cheap ones are often less than £1, and good ones are, well, expensive. When buying a QDC, look for brass (not plastic) housings with three small balls that move around freely. If it’s made from plastic, or the balls (which help grip the locking notch) are anchored, find another option.

Fun fact: QDCs are used in aerospace engineering and a number of highly complicated, detail-focused fields. If your QDC isn’t working, you’re either using it wrong (sorry, but it’s the truth) or it’s a piece of crap and you should buy a good one.

How Do I Fix My Garden Hose That Is Expanding?

This is one of those weird questions that we find on Google that have odd phrasing that could mean one of two things. Since I don’t like to half-ass two things (instead opting to whole-ass one thing), we’re going to answer both potential meanings.

I know, I’m a benevolent but firm ruler (sorry, er, writer).

If you’re trying to fix an expanding garden hose (i.e. a hose intended to expand), head to our garden hose repair article, linked in the “Why Does My Garden Hose Keep Bursting?” subsection above – we covered that process in another article.

However, if your garden hose is expanding and shouldn’t be, it’s a sign of damage in the entire stretch of the hose that’s expanding. If it’s a couple of centimetres, you can repair it. But, if it’s a metre (let alone more), it’s time to retire your hose before it fails catastrophically.

Why Do Garden Hoses Kink?

garden hose with kink

Okay – for realsies this time. Why do garden hoses kink? It’s stupid annoying and enough to make me want to kill my lawn out of sheer spite.

In general, garden hoses kink because they’ve been bent at an odd angle or stored improperly at multiple points in its life. Over time, those bends and kinks decide to stay – kinda like how mom use to tell you, “Your face will stay like that if you keep it too long.”

There are a number of ways to prevent kinked hoses, but keep in mind that at some point, you will develop a kink or two in your garden hose. Here’s what to do to keep your garden hose kink-free:

  • Use the water in your hose to help wind it.
    • Specifically, turn off the water and then quickly wind the hose for storage. When water is in the hose, the pressure of the liquid prevents the hose from kinking and helps it keep the proper shape. (Obviously, drain the hose when finished – especially when prepping for winter.)
  • Store your hose properly.
    • Either bite the bullet and purchase a hose reel (and use it) or store the hose in a straight line. Clearly, the former is the more neat and civilised option.
    • Again, never store it in direct sunlight or in extremely cold and wet conditions.
  • Never twist or fold your hose.
    • While sometimes it will happen anyway, actively do your best to prevent your hose from twisting or folding. This will prevent the hose from deciding it likes that fold and that it’s there to stay.
  • If possible, use multiple spigots.
    • If you have multiple spigots, use them. Stretching your hose beyond its intended distance will weaken it and make kinks easier to form.
  • Use hose guides (optional)
    • You can purchase hose guides for your lawn to prevent your hose from forming sharp angles, and instead guide it into smooth curves.

If you’re trying to fix a kink, though…

Fix a kinked hose by:

  • First off, do the following in the summer. It’ll be much harder when it’s cold out.
  • Use a hose splint on kinked sections. Hose splints are small plastic bits that are available at most hardware stores to force your hose back into shape. They are not permanent but add a bit of life to your hose.
  • Twist the hose in the opposite direction of the kink. This will help unwork the kink.
  • Alternatively, you can use the jump rope trick.
    • Yes – literally just play jump rope with the hose, twisting it opposite to the kink. This is not only fun, but it’s effective and good for you!

Alternatively, you could just buy a high-quality hose that’s specifically designed to be kink-free. They’re often marketed as “expandable” hoses or made from nylon or similar materials.

Conclusion

So why do garden hoses kink, tear, and bend? Most of the time, the answers to these questions all boil down to a few things. Buy quality hoses, store them properly, and don’t leave them on for too long, and you’ll have a long-term tool to serve you well. But if you anger (i.e. mistreat) them, they’ll turn on you with all the ferocity of an inanimate piece of rubber. So why do garden hoses kink, and why do they leak, tear, and crack?

Usually, it’s because they’re poorly made (or you just don’t care for them)!