DEAR MIKE: I hope that this doesn't sound too cheap, but I have a leak in my garden hose and I understand there is a kit to repair it. What does this kit cost, and should I try to repair the hose or buy a new one? -- Ron B.
DEAR RON: Cheap is a nasty word. You could call yourself frugal or budget-minded. As for whether you should repair your hose or buy a new one, the repair will cost about $3. A new hose will cost between $10 for a cheap one, up to about $40 for an industrial rubber hose. Like most things, you get what you pay for. If you buy a $10 hose, you should expect to wrestle it around for the rest of its short life. It will probably kink as soon as you try to stretch it out for the first time.
If you have a quality hose, it is probably worth fixing. The fix will take you about five minutes.
Hose repair kits are sold according to the inside diameter of the hose. The most popular is a five-eighths inch, followed by three-quarter inch, and finally one-half inch.
Buy the kit that corresponds to the hose. Since you are going to cut the hose anyway, you can always bring the piece of hose with you to make sure the kit fits.
Cut out the damaged section of the hose using a utility knife. Cut far enough back so that the ends of the hose that you are going to connect are strong and undamaged. The cut should be square, not angled.
The repair kit is nothing more than a tube with plastic clamps on each end. Slather up the ends of the tube with liquid soap (it works as a lubricant) and jam the ends of it into the sections of hose you will be splicing.
The clamps that come with the kit are cheap plastic and will strip out if you tighten them beyond what a 3-year-old could. Place a clamp on either end of the splice and gently tighten. You could also use hose clamps from the plumbing department. These are metal and have greater holding power.
Another common hose repair is replacing the fittings on the end of the hose. The female fitting (the side that screws on to the hose faucet) and the male fitting (the side you hold your thumb over to squirt your kids) are all available for under $5. The old fittings get stepped on and bent so that they are no longer round which renders your hose useless.
Start by cutting off the damaged fitting about an inch behind it, making sure to keep the cut square.
After you have purchased the correct diameter replacement, slide the rear collar onto the end of the hose. Apply a little liquid soap to the end of the hose and push the coupling onto the end of it. The coupling will have a tapered end that just squeezes over the end of the hose. Simply slide the collar up and screw the two pieces together. Then use pliers and tighten the connection.
Reviving a tired old hose just doesn't get much easier. Heck, it may even last a few more weeks.