If you need to use a hose during the cold winter months, it’s best to invest in a heated water hose. However, you can keep a regular rubber garden hose ice-free in winter by wrapping the hose in heat tape and/or insulation. Heat tape is also a great tool for thawing a frozen hose so you can resume using it even during the coldest winter months.
At What Temperature Does Your Garden Hose Freeze?
Any time temperatures drop down to 32℉ (0℃) or lower, your garden hose is in danger of freezing. While the water pipes in your walls are typically safe from freezing until temperatures reach 20℉ (-7℃), your hose is exposed to the elements. Even a single night of below-freezing temperatures is enough to freeze the water in a hose.
- Water in hoses can freeze once temperatures drop to 32℉ (0℃).
- Exterior hoses freeze much more easily than in-wall water pipes.
- A hose can freeze when exposed to 6 hours or more of freezing weather.
6 hours of freezing cold is all it takes to freeze your garden hose. So, it’s best to store your hose or find a way to heat it before winter sets in.
Can You Leave Your Garden Hose Outside in the Winter?
It’s not recommended to leave your garden hose outside through winter. A hose connected to an exterior spigot increases the risk of trapped water that can cause water lines to burst. Also, ice inside your hoses can cause the hose to split, crack, and leak. Only leave your hose connected in winter if you need to use it for specialized watering or cleaning.
- It’s best to disconnect and store your hose in winter.
- A hose connected to a water spigot in winter can cause the spigot to crack.
- Hoses are damaged by cold winter weather.
- Only use hoses in winter if you absolutely must.
If you’re wondering if you can leave a hose outside in the winter, consider the toll cold weather takes on your hose. Even a disconnected and drained hose will be damaged by the cold and ice of winter. Your hose will last much longer if you store it for winter, so it’s best not to forget.
3 Ways to Prevent Your Garden Hose From Freezing
If you need to use a hose in winter then battling frozen pipes and ice blockages can be a nightmare. However, there are a few tactics that allow you to use your hose and outdoor faucet year-round. They are:
Use a Heated Hose
This heated hose will resist freezing in temperatures down to -40℉ (-40℃). That means that once you attach the hose to a spigot and plug the electrical component of the hose into an outlet, you’ll get a reliable flow of thawed water.
- A high quality heated hose will resist freezing even when temperatures drop to -40℉ (-40℃)
- A heated hose can be installed in minutes.
- You can store your standard hoses for the winter to protect them from cold.
Heated hoses are great because they require no extra work on your part. They simply screw into place and plug in. This makes them more durable and easy to set up than homemade heated hoses.
- Can be used in extreme cold and has been tested down to -42 Fahrenheit.
- Includes a 10 ft. power cord with lighting to maximize use throughout winter.
- 200 psi - incredibly durable and sturdy to last you for many years.
Wrap Your Hose with Heat Cable
If you don’t want to purchase a heated hose, you can turn a standard garden hose into a heated hose by using a heat cable. Simply run a length of heat cable along your hose and use high-temp tape to keep it in place every 6 inches. Then, plug the cable in. The heat from the cable will keep your hose from freezing.
- Use this heat cable to transform a regular hose into a heated hose.
- Run the cable along the hose and tape it in place with high-temp tape.
- Using heat cable is less expensive than purchasing a heated hose.
One of the big benefits of using the heat cable method is that it is typically less expensive than purchasing a heated hose. Plus, you don’t have to worry about using different hoses for winter and summer. You can turn a standard hose into an all-weather hose.
- This cable will only turn on when it is in a cold environment.
- Includes 16 feet of high-temperature glass cloth tape.
- Heavy-duty construction with a 4-year warranty.
Insulate the Hose
Another great method for keeping hoses ice-free in winter is to wrap the hose in insulation. This allows the water to retain heat even as it passes through the hose. However, water trapped in a hose can freeze if the hose is left out for a long time. So, it’s a great idea to install heat cable, then wrap the hose in insulation.
- This self-adhesive foam insulation is great for hoses.
- Install heat cable to prevent ice from forming, then wrap the hose and cable in insulation.
- Wrap the hose tightly, leaving no gaps where air can enter.
We like to use foam insulation with adhesive when wrapping hoses for winter. It’s flexible enough to allow use of the hose after you insulate it. Plus, unlike cotton pipe insulation, it won’t become waterlogged and frozen when used outdoors.
- 1/8" thick, lightweight crosslinked polyethylene foam is perfect for both hot and cold pipes.
- Incredibly easy to use - simply peel the release liner from the tape and apply it to any pipes.
- Super durable and will not dry or crack.
How Do You Thaw a Frozen Hose?
Installing a heat cable along your hose and wrapping it in insulation is the best way to thaw a frozen hose and keep it ice-free. However, the quickest way to thaw a frozen hose is:
- Lay the hose out as straight as possible.
- Move along the length of the hose, picking it up as you go.
- Search for areas where the hose is stiff, brittle, or won’t bend. This indicates the location of an ice clog.
- Use a hair dryer or heat gun set on low heat to thaw the area(s) that are blocked with ice.
This method can often thaw a frozen hose in 30 minutes or less. In order to prevent your hose from refreezing, drain any remaining water out of the hose after each use.
What’s the Best Way to Prevent Your Garden Hose From Freezing?
If you need to use an outdoor hose during winter, the best ways to make sure it doesn’t freeze are:
- Replace your standard hoses with heated hoses for winter.
- Install heat cable along your hose.
- Wrap your hose in insulation.
Although heat cable and insulation tape are typically designed for use on plumbing, they both work very well for keeping your garden hose usable even in extremely cold temperatures.