Garden Hoses & Winter

frozen hose

If you’re in a cold environment, you’re likely struggling to keep your hose healthy in between summers. If you’re stuck wondering if a garden hose will freeze, or how cold is too cold for a hose, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered – we scraped the most commonly-asked questions about hoses and winter from the web just for you.

So what’s on the docket today?

Today’s Topics Include:

Wow! That was a mouthful. Now, without further ado, let’s get going.

Hoses in Winter 101

frozen hose

Some of these questions are one-and-done, two-sentence answers. Others, though, are a bit more complicated. So don’t go anywhere, buckle up, and let’s dive right in! Today, we’re discussing if a garden hose will freeze, how to insulate/heat a garden hose, and how to store it properly.

Can You Use Heat Tape on a Garden Hose?

Yes, you can use heat tape on a garden hose.

However, it’s worth noting that heat tape can range drastically in terms of how much it heats up. Tapes with a max heat of below 60 °C (400 °F) are always safe for your hose, but anything above that risks damaging or melting the hose. Some heat tapes can get as high as 760 °C, which is understandably far too high for any type of hose, even industrial metallic ones.

Will Heat Tape Keep a Garden Hose From Freezing?

Yes, heat tape will prevent your garden hose from freezing.

As mentioned above, though, don’t get heat tape with extreme heat ranges, as they will melt your hose.

How Can I Keep My Garden Hose From Freezing?

frozen hose

There are a few ways to keep your garden hose from freezing – a heated hose, heat tape/cable, and insulation. Let’s break those down a bit.

Heated Hoses

Heated hoses, as the name implies, are hoses that are heated. In other words, they have a dedicated system to ensure that the hose remains unfrozen in temperatures as low as -40 °C. You’ll need an electrical outlet (this is what provides the heat), but once you’ve got it connected, you’ll have warm water from your hose consistently.

It’s worth noting that this is the best long-term solution, and is drastically more efficient in extreme temperatures than the other options here. If you don’t get below freezing often, you can likely opt for the two below options. But, if your neck of the woods consistently reached well below freezing, I highly recommend a heated hose.

Heat Tape/Cable

You can either use heat tape to liberally cover the outside of your hose, or attach a heat cable to the hose. The former is a great short-term, budget solution, while the latter is more efficient.

If using a cable, run it along the length of your hose, securing it with highly heat-resistant tape every ~10 cm or so to ensure it’s snugly attached. If using tape, simply cover every bit of your hose with the tape and double-check that the tape won’t heat too much.

The cable method is nice because it’s easier to disconnect when summer rolls around, rather than being stuck unsticking tape that’s been attached for six winter months.

Insulation

This works especially well when paired with heat tape or a heat cable. Insulation (preferably self-adhesive foam insulation that can handle moisture) is ideal.

Wrap your hose (and cable, if using one) tightly with the insulation, ensuring you’ve gotten every tiny bit of the hose’s exterior – one gap and it’s all for nothing. The biggest benefit of foam rather than cotton pipe insulation is that it won’t get waterlogged and freeze, and it’ll bend with the hose much more easily.

How Do You Heat an Outdoor Water Hose?

Frozen garden hose

We’ve already answered this, so head to our “Garden Hoses & Hot Water” article. The long and short of it (for the lazy) is that the best way to do this is to purchase an adaptor and attach your hose to an indoor faucet.

Will Heat Tape Melt a Garden Hose?

Yes and no. Low-heat threshold heat tape won’t melt a garden hose, especially high-end ones designed for higher temperatures. However, some heat tape can get as hot as 760 °C, which will absolutely melt your hose in a matter of seconds.

In short, read your tape’s heat threshold carefully. Anything between 60-87 °C is unlikely to melt high-quality hoses, anything lower simply won’t, and anything higher will be almost guaranteed to melt a standard garden hose.

Can I Use My Garden Hose in the Winter?

Yes – you can use a garden hose in the winter.

The caveats to this are that you need to ensure it’s above freezing, that you disconnect and drain the hose when finished, and that you properly store the hose when all is said and done.

The first caveat is obvious – if it’s below freezing, you’re more likely to have frozen water build up in the hose, which will lead to damage or being unable to fully drain the hose (which also leads to damage).

The second one is a bit less obvious but important. If you don’t disconnect the hose, any leftover water inside the hose will freeze. This will result in your hose rupturing or cracking in places where the frozen water contracts and expands as temperatures change.

The final one is just common sense and basic homeownership. Everything has its home, and when finished, you should put it back in its dedicated place. This ensures your hose is safe from the elements and that you have one when summer rolls around.

How Cold is Too Cold For a Hose?

really cold

The bare minimum temperature that you can safely leave a hose outside is freezing (0 °C or 32 °F). Anything lower will lead to your hose getting damaged in as little as one night.

Will a Garden Hose Freeze?

Will a garden hose freeze? Yes, garden hoses will freeze – just like anything else left in freezing conditions. The cheaper they are, the easier this happens, but even heavy-duty hoses will freeze if left outside and neglected. Frozen hoses generally have structural damage that requires them to be thrown out, so be sure to keep it somewhere dry and warm(ish).

Should You Turn Off Your Hose in the Winter?

Not only should you turn off your hose in the winter, but you should fully disconnect it from the tap, drain all of the water out, and store it somewhere dry and relatively warm (a shed works).

Leaving your hose in any extreme temperature (hot or cold) will lead to major structural damage which will render it useless.

Can I Leave My Garden Hose Out All Winter?

This is where I tell you that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Yes, you can leave a garden hose out all winter. However, you will have a damaged, useless hose when summer rolls around.

Take care of your things and they’ll take care of you.

What to Do With a Garden Hose in the Winter?

Fully drain your hose, disconnect it from the tap, and store it somewhere dry and relatively out of the elements, such as a garage or shed. Leaving it outside will result in structural damage to the hose.

How Do You Store Garden Hoses for Winter?

Properly stored garden hose

Store it exactly as you would in the summer – that is, neatly rolled up and out of both the sun and elements. Generally, it’s best to store it in a garage or shed to prevent it from freezing as temperatures rise and fall.

Fun Fact: Sunlight actively damages most hoses. If you leave your hose on its mount in direct sunlight during the summer, it’s likely that you have harmful plastics leaching into your water – do not leave your hose in direct sunlight.

How Do I Keep My Outside Hose From Freezing?

The best and most foolproof way to keep your outside hose from freezing is to turn it into an inside hose. Specifically, bring it somewhere dry and relatively temperate.

No matter how tough your hose is, leaving it outside in freezing weather will result in it breaking or suffering structural wear.

Can I Leave My Hose Connected in the Winter?

Again – yes, you can, but no you shouldn’t.

Leaving a hose connected to a running tap in the winter will lead to a number of potential outcomes, none of which are good:

  • Your hose freezes with water in it, breaking it irreparably.
  • The constant freezing and thawing of the faucet connector caused it to warp – now you need to replace it.
  • Worst case, damage has been done to your home’s plumbing. Now you have to call a plumber and shell out the cash to get it fixed ASAP.

Conclusion

All in all, taking care of your hose in the winter is pretty straightforward. Roll it up, drain it fully, disconnect the hose from any water source, and store it somewhere dry and temperate. If you follow those steps, you’ll be fine. And if you really need hot water in a tap (or just need running water in the winter) try a heating cable, heat tape, and/or insulation. Or, you know, opt for an actual heated hose.