When should hoses be put away for winter?

Author: Ingrid

Mar. 07, 2024

Measurement & Analysis Instruments

During the spring and summer, your garden and soaker hoses are your best friends. Unwind the garden hose on a daily basis, and your flowers and vegetables have an instant shower. However, winter is a different story. It's time to put away those warm-weather tools until next year. Get to know the basics about garden hose winter preparation. You'll preserve these tools for many seasons as a result.

Disconnect and Drain the Garden Hose

Garden hoses that remain attached to the spigot will create problems. The connection and trapped water freeze, which ultimately damages your home's plumbing. Garden hose winter storage tips start with a simple disconnect.

Walk around the home, and find every hose attached to a spigot. Most households only have one hose, but you may have multiple ones. Twist the coupling off at the spigot. Drain the entire hose by holding one section upright and walking down its length. Gravity pulls the water from the hose with this strategy.

Proper Coiling and Storage

If you leave a garden hose outside for winter, it will be damaged in the spring. The extreme cold causes the internal lining to break. With a drained hose in your hand, carefully coil it into a three-foot diameter. Don't coil it into a tighter configuration, however. Improper coiling leads to breaks in the hose as well. This fact is true even when you store it in a safe location.

Secure the coil with a tie wrap if desired. Place the hose in a shed, garage or other storage area. It should be dry and free from any weathering elements until the spring.

Don't Forget the Fittings

Some residents discover that their garden hoses are still damaged after going through these drainage and storage tips. Pests might find your hose over the winter. They burrow and nest in the lining. The hose ends up with tiny holes and perforations that cannot be mended.

Avoid this scenario by purchasing a couple fittings. In essence, these parts are merely end caps for the hose couplings. Twist the fittings onto the couplings so that the hose's interior is cut off from any pests. You end up preserving the hose until spring. Simply remember to dry the hose before adding the fittings. Trapped moisture will only breed mildew and other problems.

Dealing With Forgotten Connections

If you forgot to disconnect your hose in the winter, it will impact the home and garden accessory. Deal with the connection as soon as you remember it. With cold temperatures outside, it may be difficult to twist the coupling off of the spigot. Fill a bucket with warm water. Slowly empty it onto the coupling. This warmth should be just enough temperature to loosen the connection and any ice within the coupling.

When you forget the connected hose for the entire season, it's probably done some damage to the home's plumbing. Ask a professional to check the pipes at the connection. Your hose will probably require a replacement as well.

The Soaker-Hose Dilemma

Some people might apply garden-hose care to soaker hoses, but this strategy isn't sound. Soaker hoses have an entirely different relationship with winter. Winterize soaker hoses by leaving them in place. They should be buried or covered by soil or mulch. These materials act as insulators against the cold.

In addition, soaker hoses have holes all along their lengths. Any moisture remaining in the hoses will simply seep out without any expansion and contraction problems.

Running the Water One Last Time

There are a few steps that you can take for soaker hose winter care, however. Reduce the chances of debris or ice damaging the hose by running water through it one last time. Give the hose enough pressure so that it readily seeps without expanding it too much. Run the water for a few minutes. Shut off the water, and watch the moisture levels. The water should run entirely from the hose for the best winterization.

Disconnecting the Soaker Hose From the Source

After running the water, remove the hose coupling from its spigot. Bury the hose end into the ground. This strategy preserves the coupling until spring. There's no reason to add fittings to the hose either. Because the hose has so many holes, any pests that do enter it will have enough space to move in and out of the length without damaging the lining. Mark the hose ends with rocks or other indicators so you can find them after winter.

Considering a Landscaping Change

Can soaker hoses be left out over the winter? The answer is most definitely yes, but consider a different scenario. You plan to completely change the landscape in the spring. Removing soil, sod and gardens is part of the plan. Pull the soaker hoses from the ground in the fall when you're going to rearrange them in the spring. Although the hoses won't be damaged during the winter, the ground may be difficult to cultivate in the spring as you start the project. Removing the soaker hoses now gives your project a head start. Arrange them almost immediately when the spring season begins.

Always think of your yard as an extension of the home. Take care of it as you would the carpet or furniture. Neglected hoses in the yard will break down over time. They could possibly impact your home's plumbing as well. Be proactive about how to store soaker hoses and garden accessories. The spring will arrive with no problems in your gardening shed.

All content provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. All use of products referenced in this article should be done in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

For more information on hose repair and storage, read the following articles:

Garden Hose Storage—Tips and Tricks for the Everyday Gardener

How to Mend a Garden Hose

How to Fix a Leaky Outdoor Faucet

How to Maintain Your Hose and Extend Its Life

If you find yourself needing to use your garden hose during the winter, you're probably already familiar with how much of a hassle it can be to keep it from freezing. From unhooking your hose after every use to draining it of remaining water, wrapping it, and storing it, the process can be inconvenient and time-consuming.

Below we'll look at what to do if your garden hose freezes, and the best ways to prevent your hose from freezing in the future.

What Temperature Can Your Garden Hose Freeze At?

The colder it gets outside, the greater the chances your garden hose will freeze. While your pipes are typically safe from freezing until temperatures get closer to 20℉ and remain at those levels for 6+ hours, your garden hose can start to freeze in as little as 6 hours once it gets below freezing temperature outside (32℉). This is because your hoses are directly exposed to the elements, so they don't have as much protection and insulation as your pipes do.

Why Not Leave Your Garden Hose Outside During the Winter?

Unfortunately, without proper precautions, freezing weather can quickly take a toll on your garden hose if you leave it outside during the winter. Excess water can freeze in the hose, causing it to split, burst, or weaken-meaning you'll likely need a replacement quickly.

While it is generally advisable to store a garden hose indoors in the winter, sometimes it's just not feasible. If you find yourself needing to run water multiple times per week during the colder months, going through the hassle of hooking up your hose to use it, then detaching it, draining it, and taking it back indoors regularly can be a real hassle.

If you find yourself with a frozen garden hose, take the steps outlined below to thaw it. Then, be sure to take the proper precautions to prevent future freezing (keep reading for the best methods!)

Steps to Thaw Your Frozen Hose

While preventing your garden hose or RV water hose from freezing will help improve its longevity (continue reading for some tips on how to keep your hose from freezing), it is possible to thaw a frozen hose.

First, you need to straighten the hose out as much as possible. Be as delicate as possible when trying to unbend it, as frozen sections of the hose will be more brittle and more likely to crack.

Next, walk along the length of the water hose, feeling each portion to look for stiff sections. Each section that doesn't bend is blocked by ice and needs to be thawed.

The best way to thaw these frozen sections is to use a low source of heat, such as a hair dryer on low, to gently warm these areas with warm air and thaw the ice within.

Once all sections are thawed, be sure to drain the hose of the water inside and take steps to ensure your hose doesn't freeze again-as outlined below.

Methods to Prevent Your Garden Hose from Freezing

Instead of dealing with thawing your water hose, which is not a fun task -especially when it's cold out, it's a good idea to plan ahead and get prepared before winter rolls in.

There are several ways you can prevent your garden hose from freezing each winter. The most common-but time-consuming and inconvenient-option is to drain the hose after every use and store it inside. However, there are other options that are more convenient, which we've outlined below.

Heated Garden Hose

A heated garden hose can withstand extremely cold weather. You simply connect the hose to your outdoor faucet and plug it in to a power source and it will stay warm throughout the winter, ready to use when you need it.

However, there are a few drawbacks to these hoses. First, they can be expensive. Depending on length, the best garden hose options can exceed $100 - $300+.

Additionally, a heated water hose needs a constant power source to maintain warmth. Not only does this contribute to your energy bill (important in a time when energy bills are reaching record levels), but it also adds a potential point of failure. If you experience a prolonged power outage (not uncommon during strong winter storms), your hose is at risk of freezing just like a normal garden hose would be.

This option also does little to protect your outside water line or pipes from freezing, making it a less-than-ideal solution.

Use a Heating Cable

A cheaper alternative to purchasing a heated hose is purchasing a heated cable, wrapping it along the length of your current garden hose, and securing it with heat tape.

A heat cable allows you to create a DIY heated hose that can protect your hose throughout the winter. A main advantage of this option over a heated hose is that it's much cheaper than buying a heated hose (about half the cost, on average). However, it's still not exactly cheap-costing anywhere from $50 - $100+ depending on length.

In addition to having to properly implement the heating cable around your garden hose, this approach has similar drawbacks to heated hoses: the reliance on electricity. This means a higher energy bill, and you're at risk of having your hose freeze in the event of an extended power outage prolonged exposure to cold air.

Similar to a heated water hose, this option does little to protect your outside water line or pipes from freezing.

Insulating Your Garden Hose

You can also insulate your hose with foam insulation, which can help reduce the chances of freezing. However, it's not a guaranteed way to keep your garden hoses from freezing over, as prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures can still result in ice buildup.

The Best Way to Keep Your Hose and Pipes from Freezing

While draining and storing your garden hose after each use or using a heated solution can protect your hose throughout the cold winter months, there's a better solution.

Install a Freeze Miser on Your Hose

All you need to do is place a Freeze Miser on the end of your garden hose and turn the water on fully. Once the water in the hose drops below 37℉ , the Freeze Miser will automatically drip the minimum amount of water to prevent freezing. Once the freezing temperature rises and the water inside your faucet and hose is above 37℉, it will stop releasing water.

You can utilize a Y-valve on the end of the hose, and attach a Freeze Miser to the other leg of the valve. With this configuration, you can simply open the little valve and use normally, then switch it back off to re-route water through the Freeze Miser.

When storing, be sure you keep the Freeze Miser off the ground over a chair or fence, as this ensures the Freeze Miser is sensing the water in the hose. The rest of the hose can be laying on the ground.

Compared to other alternatives, the Freeze Miser is a much more affordable than other options. The cost of the Freeze Miser is only $30.00 and protects up to 150 ft. of hose—no matter what the air temperature is.

Freeze Miser Protects More Than Just Your Water Hose

Attaching a Freeze Miser to your garden water hose or RV water hose not only protects it, but it can also help protect your outside faucet (or hose bib) and your water pipes - including exposed pipe and connecting water pipes throughout your property (as long as you install one on each outdoor hose bib or outdoor faucet). Frozen pipes can be a nightmare, and a burst pipe can cause a lot of water damage, whether it's an indoor our outdoor pipe.

With a quick installation, the Freeze Miser can protect your water supply and help prevent frozen pipes, making it the ideal solution to protect your garden hoses and outdoor plumbing.

To learn more about the Freeze Miser, be sure to visit our In Action page . If you'd like to purchase a Freeze Miser, you can browse our shop here .

When should hoses be put away for winter?

How to Keep Your Garden Hose from Freezing This Winter

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