How to Troubleshoot a Garden Hose Leak


Garden hoses are helpful tools, not only in washing cars but also in the everyday care of flower and vegetable gardens, as well as lawns. Garden hoses consist of rubber, plastic or a combination of the two materials banded tightly together to form tubes. Water pressure and amount of use both affect the durability of a hose and the integrity of the hose material. Garden hose leaks can happen anywhere on the hose. Troubleshooting a leak requires a basic understanding of the parts of the hose. Most hoses can be easily repaired using hardware from a home improvement store.

Step 1

Attach the hose to the outdoor spigot and turn on full water pressure to determine where leaks appear along the length of the hose.

Step 2

Begin by checking the end of the hose attached to the spigot nozzle. If there is a leak at the attachment point, turn off the water and disconnect the hose from the faucet. Check the inside of the hose for an O-ring. This O-ring is a rubber hose end washer that prevents leaks and can fail with age as the rubber becomes dried and cracked. You can remove the old O-ring and slip in a new one purchased from your local hardware store.

Step 3

Examine the metal fitting on the end of the hose. This coupling typically consists of a brass band around the hose with a threaded end that attaches to the spigot. The brass fitting can become misshapen over time and from misuse. A bent hose end won't connect properly to the spigot and will leak profusely as soon as water pressure reaches the hose. Hardware stores sell hose repair kits that contain replacement hose end fittings that can be easily installed: Just cut off the old hose end using a utility knife, slip the shank inside the hose and then tighten the clamp by turning the screw with a screwdriver.

Step 4

Reattach the hose to the spigot and turn on the water again. Examine the expanded hose in the 6-inch area below the hose end. Hoses contain plies (similar to car tire plies) that form bands to give added strength to the rubber or plastic hose material. These plies can weaken with constant bending when you pull the hose around a corner or try to stretch it longer than the intended length. Make this repair by cutting off the damaged end of the hose and installing a new hose end. This fitting slips down inside the hose and tightens with a few twists of a screwdriver.

Step 5

Check the full length of the hose for signs of pinhole leaks and bubbles. Pinhole leaks appear as a stream jetting out from a fine hole between the hose plies. Bubbles actually split the plies and allow water to collect between the layers of hosing. To troubleshoot such leaks, cut out relevant sections 3 to 6 inches past the damaged area of the hose using a sharp utility knife. Attach replacement hose mender couplings that tighten by twisting a screw to compress a clamp around the hose end.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber hose end washers
  • Replacement hose ends
  • Utility knife
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Midhose couplers


  • AZCentral: Garden Hoses May Be One of the Most Important Tools You Own
  • Garden Hoses A-Z: How to Repair a Garden Hose
Keywords: garden hose leak, fixing hose leaks, troubleshooting garden hoses

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.