All About Garden Hoses

By on March 27, 2014
Garden Hose

Most of us have used a garden hose. Some of us have tangled with one. Crushed end fittings, blowouts, tears and kinks are a few of the problems that a garden hose user encounters. However, a bit of planning can make life with a garden hose bearable, perhaps even pleasant.

While all hoses look alike, they are, in fact, quite different. There are several factors that determine the quality and performance of a garden hose: among them, diameter, length, construction material, reinforcement and fittings. The old adage, “you get what you pay for,” is especially valid when it comes to garden hoses. And, since most residential-grade hoses cost in the neighborhood of $25, a high quality hose is affordable.

The bargain basement specials will generally run one third to one half the cost of the better quality hoses, but will rarely last a season without failing in one way or another. Therefore, it makes good sense to treat the purchase of a hose as an investment that will pay big dividends in lasting quality.

The most popular diameter and length of a garden hose is 5/8 inch by 50 feet. Using a dynamic water pressure of 15 psi, a hose this size will deliver about eight to nine gallons per minute (gpm) in contrast to a 1/2 inch model of the same length which drops to five to six gpm. One rule of thumb to consider is that as the length of the hose increases so should the diameter. When a hose is 150 feet or more, it is best to use a 3/4 inch diameter model.

Vinyl, rubber-vinyl, rubber and nylon are the four basic materials used by manufacturers for the construction of garden hoses. While one material isn’t necessarily better than another, some perform better than others in certain climates.

Vinyl is the most widely used. Unfortunately, it tends to be difficult to coil when exposed to cold weather. A rubber-vinyl combination looks and feels like rubber. It is less likely to become rigid in cold weather and, properly reinforced, resists kinking when temperatures rise. Rubber is reputed to be the premium hose material. This might be true when used for commercial applications with above-average water pressure. For most consumer uses, however, rubber is too bulky, expensive and much more likely to kink, especially with prolonged exposure to the sun. Nylon is rarely used today.

Material is only part of what determines a good garden hose. Reinforcement has a great deal to do with kink-resistance and lasting quality. Poorly constructed hoses are not reinforced ö one reason that they can be sold inexpensively. Don’t be fooled, a reinforced hose is always a better value. It will usually last longer and is easier to manipulate. A cross section of a better quality garden hose looks a lot like an automobile tire with nylon or rayon reinforcing fabric sandwiched between the inner and outer layers. The configuration of the fabric will influence strength.

The quality of the fittings and the way in which they are attached are telling as to the life expectancy of a hose. Plastic fittings will not withstand abuse as well as solid brass ones. Plastic is more susceptible to being crushed, and the threads do not remain as tried and true. This results in more difficult attachment-detachment and annoying water-wasting leaks. An octagonal-shaped female fitting (the end that attaches to the hose bib) is much easier to handle than the round knurled variety.

We have all played tug of war using a hose with the faucet at the opposing end. More often than not we end up with torn reinforcing fabric at the collar or, worse yet, a condition that resembles Old Faithful. In an effort to prevent this from happening, manufacturers of better garden hoses include a plastic sleeve just below the female coupling that serves as a protective collar.

To prolong the life of a garden hose, be careful not to drag it against a rough or sharp surface. This could result in a cut. One of the most effective methods of avoiding kinks is to wind the hose onto a reel. If you choose not to use a reel, loosely coil the hose on a flat surface.

Be cautious not to kink or put stress on the hose in extreme weather conditions. Never leave a hose full of uncirculating water in cold or hot temperatures. Freezing water can cause undue expansion and result in torn reinforcement. Conversely, prolonged exposure to the sun can cause unmoving water to boil and permanently damage the hose.

For more information about garden hoses contact Teknor Apex Company at 1-800-556-3864.

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