Keeping your Water Hose from Freezing in Cold Weather

Keeping your garden hose from freezing during the winter helps protect one of your most important backyard tools.

When water freezes, it expands and can burst pipes or freeze them shut. But there are several ways to keep your water hose from freezing in a cold winter climate.

In this article, we will provide the best solutions for this common problem and help you solve this issue once and for all.

How to keep your water hose from freezing in cold weather

Two of the most common solutions that have been proven to work are:

  • Using a heated garden hose
  • Using a heat tape

How does a heated garden hose work

Imagine a hose that is heated, so you won’t have to worry about draining it in the winter.

A heated hose consists of a flexible tube from which water flows and a heating element that heats the pipe.

The heating element spreads along the length and is covered with insulation material for protection against temperature extremes (-40°F ~ 176°F).

This hose has been the best solution that I’ve found for preventing my water from freezing during these cold winter months.

This option could be a little expensive, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for a more permanent solution.

How to use a heat tape

A heat tape (which works like an electric blanket for a hose) is a long plastic ribbon that can heat up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and spirals around the water hose.

The spiral should be one per every 18 inches to 24 inches along with the hose.

You can measure the size of your water hose, then check on the back of the heat tape package for how much length you need.

Heat tapes cost around $15 to $25, depending on their lengths. They can last up to 20 years if you take care good care of them.

It’s considered one of the best ways to keep your water from freezing in the winter months. Not to mention how easy it is to use!

Important guidelines on using the heat tape:

1. Make sure it doesn’t overlap itself

overlapping the heat tape will cause hot spots, which will melt your hose and its sheath remarkably fast.

2. A heating tape must be used in combination with insulation.

Remember, using the heat tape by itself, it’s no good. 

3. Try to use good insulation

The best insulation to use is the “Foam Tubes” (about 99 cents each). Split it down the entire length, and it will slip easily over a water hose.

4. Wrap electrical tape around the heat tape

Wrap some electrical tape around an insulated hose about every foot, so that wind won’t blow off heat tapes from your hoses or gutters. Here is how to do it:

  1. Apply the electrician tape along with the heated tape at 12-inch intervals for better protection against cold weather conditions such as ice dams forming on roof surfaces during winter nights or mornings.
  2. Use only electrician tape, using things like duct tape, string, cable ties, or other non-flexible/stretchable objects. It can cut into the hose as it swells and contracts.

What temperatures do water hoses freeze

Water hoses usually freeze at a temperature lower than 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you live in an area where it gets colder than that, you might experience frequent freezing of your water hose.

And if you don’t have a heated hose or heated tape, you’ll need to find a way to unfreeze it without damaging the hose.

How to unfreeze a frozen water hose

If you find that your hose is frozen, it’s best to unfreeze it as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the bigger the damage will be on the hose.

To unfreeze the water hose:

First, turn off the water supply and detach from where possible.

Then move it to a warmer location so you can use the hairdryer on low heat about 2-3 inches away from your freeze hoes, moving back and forth across them for best results.

Pro Tip: You can also try to soak the frozen hose in hot water (as long as it's nowhere near-boiling temperature)
  1. Place the hose inside a large container and heat up some water on your stove until it is almost at boiling point.
  2. Pour this over the hose and sock it for at least 20 minutes so that they become unfrozen enough to connect back with their source again.
  3. After 20-30 minutes have passed, you can try to switch open your water mains to see if water can now pass through your hose.
  4. If it’s still stuck, Rinse and repeat steps 1 to 3.

Keep in mind depending on the weather this process can take much longer than expected.

How to prevent your garden hose from freezing

If you want to prevent your garden hose from freezing without using a heat tape or a heated hose, there are also other solutions:

1. Clear out any excess water from the hose

In order to prevent the hose from freezing, you should blow any excess water out of it.

You can do this by removing the hose from its source and blowing from one end while holding onto another end with your hand.

Then wrap a nice round shape around itself before hanging nicely on a hook or fence post in an appropriate place where one could use it again later.

2. Stay away from plastic hoses

Rubber thick hoses are way more beneficial in cold weather.

It will live longer, and it helps keep the coolness from getting to the water.

Plastic ones might be cheaper or lighter, but they’ll break easily with limited resistance against colder climates which is why rubber hose wins out any day of the week, even if it’s a little pricier.

Conclusion

Having a garden is a big responsibility, so you’ll have to take care of it and keep all the small details in mind. Including freezing hoses!

There are different methods that you can use to freeze-proof your garden hose. Some of them are permanent, and others will work just for the short term.

Either way, they’ll work just fine, provided you don’t wait too long before unfreezing your hoses.

And better yet, try these ideas in this article as they are proven ways to keeping your water hose from freezing during winter.