There are several uses for which an expandable hose is a better option than a standard rubber garden hose. Unfortunately, they are more prone to leaks and breaks as their traditional counterparts. While it might be more straightforward in our consumer society to replace the item entirely, can an expandable hose be fixed? A simple repair is far more desirable for many, as it reduces waste and the overall cost.
A damaged expandable garden hose is repairable. While a patchwork tactic will work in the short term, it will likely re-tear once high pressure is forced through the tubing. A permanent solution is to break the hose and use connectors to join them back together.
Knowing how to repair your expandable hose can save you time, money, and frustration. Several techniques you may have used with a traditional garden hoses won’t work with an expandable hose due to the latex material used in its construction.
Why an Expandable Hose is Different
Expandable hoses are difficult to repair due to the materials used to make them.
- Unlike standard tubes, which are primarily made of rubber, expandable hoses are made from latex. The “stretchiness” of the material is what allows the hose to elongate up to 3 times its original length once pressurized. This is due to the chemical composition of the latex.
- Most latex in expandable hoses are made using synthetic and natural latex and contains between 55-65% of water. The material is made robust by adding Sulfur, carbon black, and oil during manufacturing. Several layers of latex are used (2-4 is typical) to strengthen the hose further and provide fail-safes if one layer becomes weakened.
- When it is pressurized, the latex material expands, becoming thinner in the process. If you have made a turkey balloon from a latex glove in the past, you may have noticed that the material became so thin that it was nearly transparent. This is what is happening inside your expandable hose – just with water and not air as the pressurizer. It is these properties that make most repair methods flawed and likely to cause further damage.
By understanding the material inside your hose, you can troubleshoot repair solutions with materials at hand far easier.
The Best Solution: Repairing with Connectors
There are two modes of leaking from an expandable hose – either you have a hole in the inner latex tube itself, or the connector has separated from the hose at one end. If repaired by “traditional” means, you will likely have ongoing issues. That’s because the repaired section of latex is now weak and will repeatedly rupture.
In both instances, the best solution is to remove the damaged section of the hose entirely and replace it in a simple 3 step process.
Expandable hoses are comprised of two layers:
- The inner tube is made from latex, and it expands when pressurized.
- The outer tubing is a nylon cloth that protects the fragile inner hose.
While the inner pipe is where the leaks will occur, you will likely need to remove the protective outer layer first to access the latex tubing beneath it.
1. How to remove the outer layer
Remove the connector at each end and roll the outer layer down so you can access the puncture site. There should be enough slack in the nylon cover to do this. If there isn’t, cut the nylon and sew it back together once the repair is completed.
2. Removing the damaged inner hose
Nothing complicated here. To remove the damaged part of the inner hose, use a knife, pair of garden shears, or a box cutter to make a clean cut.
3. Making the new connection
Whether you are using an existing connector or purchasing new ones, like these found on Amazon.
To make a new connection within the hose, you want to make sure they are clean:
- First, remove any old tubing (if appropriate) and wipe the connector to remove any residue.
- Then, use barbed connectors so that the hose will expand around the connector when it is pressurized. Before pushing the barb into the tubing, on both ends, use expandable tape (Teflon tape or silicon plumbers’ tape) to create a tight seal. Don’t use too much tape, once or twice around is all you need. It also, will expand and create a better seal.
By removing the damaged section of the hose, you remove the weakest element. Connectors work well with the expanding latex material. That’s why this is the best, permanent fix for a leak in an expandable hose.
Methods That Won’t Work
You may be wondering if any methods that work on traditional hoses will suffice for expandable models. The problem is, due to the expansion of material for the latex hose, most sealants and tapes will not patch a leak in the hose for long. By stretching the seal and pressurizing the repair site, most sealants will loosen under strain, or adhesive tapes will come loose.
Here are some ineffective methods used to repair non-expandable hoses so that you know to avoid them:
While duct tape is a universal solution for most quick repairs, unfortunately, it won’t help with stopping your garden hose leaking. There are two reasons for this.
- First, it isn’t a waterproof product. Therefore, the adhesive glue that makes duct tape durable will weaken as soon as the hose is turned on.
- Secondly, duct tape does not have any give; i.e., it is not flexible. The latex material of the inner tubing will want to stretch once it is pressurized. This will put additional strain on the bond between the tape and the pipe. As a result, the duct tape will loosen and fall off quickly.
It is sensible to consider a water-resistant based product for your needs. That way, the adhesive bond won’t deteriorate as quickly when the hose is turned on, and water is flowing past it. However, this tape still has the same stretch problem once the tube is pressurized. By layering the tape, you may be able to give yourself a quick fix to use the hose at that moment.
However, this seal won’t last long.
There are several forms of leak sealants available, from spray-on products to silicone-based pastes. These products will work better than an adhesive tape as many have a compound in them that allow a little give. Thus, when the hose expands, the sealant won’t crack right away. There are two key downsides to these products, though:
- First, it can take up to 48 hours for them to dry and adhere properly. If you are prepared to wait this long to fix your hose, then it is a far better option to buy barbed connectors and fix it permanently.
- The second issue is that the seal will break over time and will not be a long-term solution.
While the above methods can help you in a pinch, none are reasonable long-term solutions to fixing your expandable hose. If you do need to use them, keep the water pressure low (don’t turn the faucet entirely on) to limit the PSI in the tubing. That way, your quick fix will last longer!
When repairing an expandable hose, you need to perform a permanent repair – a quick patchwork job won’t hold for very long. The stretchiness of the latex material in an expandable hose makes most adhesive solutions impractical and temporary. Instead, you should excise the area of the tube with the leak and use permanent, barbed connectors to reattach the two pieces of hose together. By doing so, the hole will be fixed, and the tubing will be strong once again.
And, if you decide to just replace the hose, here is my favorite brand (Click to see Amazon listing).
I hope you have found this article helpful. Please let me know what you think in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
What Are The Benefits of an Expandable Hose?
Expandable hoses are a transformative product in the garden hose market. They are a lightweight alternative to standard cumbersome garden hoses that are made from latex and have a nylon outer shell. Typically, they weigh five times less than their rubber counterparts.
Their popularity stems from their expandable nature, which can be three times its original length. This is especially useful for storage and transporting the hose. Once the water pressure is removed, the hose contracts and self-empties, which is highly convenient for the user.
The most significant benefit most users enjoy is that an expandable hose does not tangle, twist, or kink. These features combined make moving around the garden to manually water your plants a breeze compared to using a standard rubber garden hose.
Can You Use An Expandable Hose With A Pressure Washer?
All pressure washers need a hose connected to them. Over the past few years, expandable hoses have become more durable; early models were notoriously leak-prone and didn’t last very long with regular use.
Despite improvements in durability, most expandable hoses are not suitable for use with a pressure washer. The extreme pressure (2000-3000 PSI) will overly expand the latex, likely leading to it bursting. For reference, the water pressure from a faucet is between 40-60 PSI, reaching a high of 80 PSI in most homes. Most hoses are not designed to tolerate water pressures used in a pressure washer.
If you are using a pressure washer, it is recommended that you use a rubber-based hose or an expandable hose that is specifically rated for a pressure washer.