How to choose and care for your garden hose
Does your garden hose look like a snake attempting to swallow an inordinately large meal? Or maybe it has a small pinhole leak that occasionally squirts you in the eye. More important, your hose might be leaking massively, wasting gallons of precious water and leaving you with little or no water pressure. If you’ve had these problems, or you’re not sure if you have, you need to read on. In this Garden Hose 101, we have moneysaving ideas for you on proper daily storage, tips for making your hose last longer, and easy repair tips. Garden hoses are available in three basic lengths: 25 feet, 50 feet and 100 feet — with the most popular length being the 50-footer. Yes, they are available in other lengths, but those mentioned are the most popular. Hoses are also available in several diameters: 1/2-inch, 5/8-inch and 3/4-inch. The most common is 5/8-inch. Also, hoses are made from three different types of material: vinyl, nylon-reinforced vinyl and rubber. Nylon-reinforced vinyl is the most popular. Rubber is great, but because it is so soft it easily kinks. Still, rubber is best for use with hot water. For most applications, you’ll want a 5/8-inch-round by 50-foot-long nylon-reinforced vinyl hose. You might say this is America’s most popular hose. Believe it or not, you can get up to 60 percent more water-flow when the hose size is increased from 5/8-inch to 3/4-inch. The worst place to leave a hose is in the sun. Sunlight damages everything, and hose material can stand only so much sunlight and heat before it permanently stretches. Hang it in full shade or beneath a tree or in a hose storage container. We like the container because our hoses stay cleaner. Also, don’t leave water in your hose when you store it. A hose filled with water and left in the sun can become a small boiler plant. Title this one: “How to ruin a hose in one easy lesson.” Subtitle: “Fill it with superheated water.” If you live in a climate where it freezes, be sure to empty the hose and store it inside. A frozen brittle hose usually becomes a frozen cracked hose. By the way, don’t forget that you need to water at least once a month during the freezing season. So be prepared to pull out the hose from time to time. And don’t forget to put it away dry. A hose will last longer if it is not kinked or twisted (at exercise class this would be referred to as a bad stretch). Unwrap your hose before each use. Don’t let it kink and remember this common mistake: Folks tend to think that just because the hose is more flexible than a run of solid pipe it can be stretched an extra foot or so to reach that remote spot in the yard. Each time the hose is stretched, the connection at the faucet fitting becomes weaker. Eventually it will leak or become detached. Instead of yanking on the hose, extend it with a small hose section or locate additional hose “bibs” (exterior hose faucets) at those hard-to-reach points in the yard. For added protection, install a rubber sleeve or metal spring guard to surround the hose at the location where it attaches to the hose bib. This will minimize stress at this very vulnerable location. Also, keep the hose loosely wound on a suitable hose rack. A large nail, a piece of pipe or other makeshift hangers simply won’t do. Hose replacement parts and repair kits are available at most hardware stores, home improvement centers and garden supply shops.
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