/ Home & Energy

Has an expandable garden hose caused you problems?

Watering the garden? It can be a real pain using an old-style hosepipe that can be heavy, gets tangled, kinks, leaks or even splits. Which is why I bought an XHose – one of the whizzy stretchy, expandable hoses.

The XHose promises no kinks and tangles, and was shortlisted for the Chelsea Flower Show Garden Product of the Year 2013. But having heard about poor experiences with these and other expandable hoses from our members I’m now wondering if I’ve bought a leaky sieve.

There are a range of stretchy, expandable hoses available to buy at the moment and they all look really good. They’re basically a soft, inflatable inner-tube surrounded by tough fabric shell that crinkles up when the inner-tube isn’t expanded. They promise never to tangle or kink up and are much lighter than a traditional hose – so what’s not to like?

Reports of problems with the XHose and other expandable hoses

Unfortunately, I’m worried that my new XHose may not be as trouble-free as I’d hoped. A colleague who’d tried one out told me that the hose needs water pressure to expand so as you reduce the pressure when you start using it, it shrinks, pulling you back noticeably towards the tap. This sounds irritating but not a deal-breaker.

But our members have told us that they’d had other problems with their expandable hoses too, such as the inner tube splitting and filling the outer tube with water or even exploding! We’ve also heard about leaking joints, poor connections and irreparable faults.

So have I found myself a neat solution to a gardening problem or am I in for a drenching?

We will be carrying out a test of these in future and are interested in hearing your experiences.

Have you tried out an expandable hose? Have you been impressed or left disappointed? Have you found that some brands are better than others?

Comments
Fiona Todd says:
18 May 2020

Absolute waste of money. Good idea that doesn’t stand the test of time. Ours leaks and the one we bought our daughter has just exploded and now leaks too. Wrote to Hoselock but without the receipt they won’t do anything. Will not waste my money on another one.

If you have a card statement, that can be used as an alternative to a receipt, Fiona. Unless you bought the hose directly from Hozelock, it is the retailer that is responsible for claims under the guarantee or your statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act.

After Christmas I bought a Hozelock Pico Reel – a 10 metre reel of narrow-bore hose on a reel. It was to make up the minimum spend for a voucher and did not cost much, but I thought it might be useful to water pots on the patio. It leaked the first time I used it and with the coronavirus lockdown in place it the shop was closed. I opened the case and found that the hose clamp had not been fitted correctly, but it was easy to fit a replacement hose clip.

It’s not a bad idea to try products as soon as possible after purchase. I usually do.

I bought one for my mother. Leaked from day one and then failed slowly and then completely by bursting after a few months. She did like the feature, so she bought a new one for herself which did the same. This seems to be a very common complaint with expandable hoses, so I’d say get a decent hose reel which I now have and it works much better.

Leonie king says:
12 June 2020

Loved the expanding hozelock is easy to use goes back into its little box when done with ..my husband was so impressed he bought one for his work …ok but after 18 months it exploded so too expensive for such a short time …then on Friday just two weeks after my one exploded guess what his one did exactly the same his was only 14 months old …so joint cost over £100 for two useless hoses …stay away don’t buy ..having said that we both have just bought the new touch hose they have brought out it has an excellent guarantee so fingers crossed ..any more problems they will be going right back to hozelock …

Yes I had a couple and both of them broke. They seemed like an ideal solution to a long cumbersome hose on a reel. But the reality is they split and burst when walking with it over rocks, stones and general garden surfaces, especially when it expands whilst it’s on the ground. I may have to go back to the old hose on a reel, if someone doesn’t address this obvious design fault.

I have one for 10 +and use with my power washer with no problem

Well done Charles. If only there was a relevant section in the Guinness Book of Records.

Geert Cauwenbergh says:
5 May 2021

I bought 2 expandable hoses (different brands) last year ($50 and $70 plus 6% sales tax). They both lasted 1 season. I put them away in a dry and dark place for the winter and when trying to use them again at the beginning of this season, one had the plastic tube inside burst, and the other had the outer tissue part separate from the plastic inside. Could not be repaired.
Bottom-line: Never again. A total waste of money.

My neighbours bought an expanding hose and it has been draped over the tap on a south-facing wall for months.

Here is part of the instructions for the Xhose: “To prolong the life of your Xhose, store indoors when not in use. The hose cannot be left in direct UV sunlight or left out in freezing temperatures.” I expect that other brands provide similar instructions.

I recently purchased an expandable hose and the outer fabric has started to sheer in one place. This resulted in the hose ballooning out if water is put through and will likely burst if I continue to use it in this way so I’m looking for a way to repair the outer protective nylon layer before further use otherwise so far it’s been fine but this is now a problem

Graeme Anderson says:
17 May 2021

Bought one of these hoses this morning. Exploded after after using 1st time.Went back to shop same day.Got another,same happened again.Total waste of time these things.Don’t waste your money.

I do hope you will receive a full refund, Graeme. One of the advantages of using a shop is that it can be easier to get refunds.

As a matter of interest, Graeme, what make was the hose you bought?

There are quite a number of expandable hoses now on the market, some made by reputable suppliers of garden watering equipment, but there are also some cheaper imitations which are prone to failure.

I am glad you got an immediate replacement for the first one but it’s not good that the second example also exploded.

I am surprised that the bad record of expandable hoses has not led either to withdrawal from the market or to satisfactory improvements in their manufacture. This Conversation is nearly five years old now and the problem was apparent a long time before Which? reported on it.

Certainly some brand information on price and performance needs to be drawn together to help people buy a good product. Isn’t it about time since publication and over 300 comments for Which? to do that?

I suspect that the problem lies in the design, John. Expandable hoses rely on a thin and highly elastic rubber inner hose inside protective ‘concertina’ of fabric. I am not aware of any brands of expandable hose that are capable of surviving for years, whereas decent quality conventional plastic hoses can be extremely durable.

I agree. The number of expandable hoses that have been reported here as having failed on their first outing is remarkable. Perhaps users need to increase the water pressure gradually to prevent the elastic liner bursting.

We had one once for convenience and lightness but it didn’t last long and went straight in the bin because I couldn’t remember where we bought it and I had no proof of purchase.

The conventional hoses I have are ever so old and still perform satisfactorily – the fittings are the weak points and occasionally need replacement but I have a small stock of spares.

When drained of water, the weight of conventional hoses is not much of a problem [and two of mine are 60 metres long]. It could be the weight of the water relative to the weakness of the material from which expandable hoses are made that is the real problem.

With plastic hose fittings it’s best to stick to well known brands but brass fittings are the best option and cheap ones from Lidl seem to be as good as more expensive brands. If a hose fitting starts leaking this can usually be cured by replacing the O-ring seal. These seals used to be difficult to find but are now readily available.

Opening the tap slowly will avoid the pressure shock of just turning it on but if you use a trigger spray, that will cause a pressure shock when the flow stops! I’m surprised that Hozelock sells expandable hoses, and we have had complaints about failure.

I was hoping to tease out whether expandable (?expendable) hoses made by a reputable brand like Hozelock were as prone to failure as other X-hose types. It could just be that there is a strong market demand for lighter, easier-to-manage hoses that manufacturers need to supply on a sacrificial and cynical basis; when the hose has blown up the customer reverts to a conventional one. Kerr-ching!

Contributors have reported problems with Hozelock products on this and the previous page, John. If I was determined to have an expandable hose I would probably by a Hozelock one from B&Q and be prepared to go back if I had a problem.

Some of the expandable hoses have an inner pipe made of latex rubber which is likely to be as durable as products such as rubber bands. 🙁 Others use synthetic rubbers – or thermoplastic elastomers if you want to use science to baffle customers – and these will resist deterioration through ageing. Unfortunately a TPE tube will have to be thin walled to achieve the required elasticity.

I suspect that a major contributor to the success of online sales is that most people who encounter problems will discard it and buy a replacement.

I was hoping that Which? might do some analysis of hose failures. While there have been mentions of Hozelock expandable hose failures they have been heavily outnumbered by reports on other makes. It would not surprise me if the manufacture of these hoses is concentrated in just one or two places in the Far East thus showing similar characteristics. They are then merely branded for the particular market for which they are destined.

Hozelock offer a a decent guarantee – three years plus an additional two years if you buy online. On the other hand they use a latex inner hose. Latex has great elasticity but synthetics are more durable. Which? could do long-term testing but it might be over rather sooner than planned.

I wonder if anyone here has found an expandable hose that has survived regular use for a few years.

That should read: “…plus an additional two years if you register online”

I wonder why people need to use them rather than a conventional and durable hose on a reel. I have had mine for……. longer than I can remember, many many years.

I have been imprudent in my purchase of spray heads. Plastic ones do not survive well if left outside in the winter; the plastic splits. I know that but a) don’t make the effort to take them inside and b) have been mean about paying too much, even though a hozelock one can cost around £25. The best one I had was bought from my garage and was metal. A Hozelock plastic one I bought 3 years ago split internally.

Expandable hoses are light and when they are turned off they contract, which expels most of the water. I bought a Hozelock Pico Reel with 10 metres of narrow hose because I had some Wickes vouchers that were due to expire. It does to water pots on the patio but I’m tempted to remove the hose and coil it up in a plastic bucket for storage. I’m sure it will last longer than an expendable hose.

Today I fitted a new O-ring to my Gardena plastic hose spray-gun which was supplied with a hose, which I bought at the same time as a Hozelock reel. I guess that they are around 15 years old, and I have replaced the plastic connectors with brass ones.

Em says:
18 May 2021

Zoro dot co dot uk sell the complete(?) range of Spear and Jackson brass BWF series of hose connectors, spray nozzles, guns and spare O-rings. Free shipping requires a £20 spend, but they sell all sorts of DIY supplies, garden tools, cleaning materials and office stationery too, so I never have a problem making up an order. They deliver in stock items the next day and I’ve not had a problem with damaged packages (it happens) or returns. All replaced or refunded without quibble.

Thanks Em. The O-rings are very reasonably priced. I wonder how many people replace hose connectors that just need a new O-ring.

One would think, by now, the reputation of these hoses would be well known and people would stop buying them, causing the manufacturers to either improve them or go bust, like their hoses. One would also think that shops and stores would stop stocking them, both for the annoyance of refunds and replacements and because they do nothing for the store reputation. Since neither seems to be happening, there may be some satisfied customers out there after all. What does Which? think about this?

These hoses are probably like many good ideas – there may be a few good ones around, but there will be many copycats of dubious quality and origin. For every 1000 overpriced Xhoses they sell on a shopping channel if they have to refund 10% they will still be in pocket.

I don’t know anything about expandable hoses other than to stay clear of them as they have so many problems, but they come in all sorts of guises on Amazon and ebay complete with fake reviews.

The fire brigade use lay-flat hoses that expand. Perhaps it would be worth developing a domestic version for those who want their hose to roll up easily and take up less space.

I have a plea that the manufacturers join the bandwagon and sell us “smart hoses” that, in particular, learn to avoid twigs that they can wrap themselves around and bring you to a shuddering halt when dragging it down the garden.

Lay-flat hoses are readily available. They are often supplied in a plastic cassette and after use it is necessary to expel all the water before they can be rolled up, which is very tedious. There is the potential for the hose to pass through rollers in the cassette to expel the water as it is rolled up but in 40 years I have not seen one that worked well.

I see that some manufacturers offer spiral hose. Typically these narrow-bore hose that will stretch to a maximum length of 10 metres and will retract like a spring. I would not expect these to burst but the weak point is likely to be where the hose joins the connectors at both ends, and the spring tension might make them awkward to use.

They are currently advertising these X hoses on television £20 + post and packing. I lingered on the site as a result of our conversations here. The video was American made and there was a two second mention of a “Pro Hose” which could be ordered by asking the operator about it. As part of the demonstration one of the grinning presenters hit the hose with a hammer to show how tough it was. Other than that the entire presentation was shown displaying the way the hose stretched and contracted, amid shots of people struggling with coils of recalcitrant traditional hoses and looking suitably frustrated. It is clear that the magic relies on a flexible latex inner which expands and contracts with water pressure. When it’s on, there is tension against the latex which flexes inside the outer covering. I suppose if the water pressure is too high then the latex will burst. I also suppose that to produce a long length of flexible tubing is quite a difficult process and it would be easy to get flaws in the coating. If I were a Which? tester I would examine a few samples of the inner core to see how well it was made and what water pressure it would take before it exploded.

Em says:
18 May 2021

I can recommend the Gardena hose box – a spring loaded standard garden hose reel in a neat plastic box bolted to the wall near a convenient tap. The hose comes in different lengths to suit the size of your garden or driveway. They come with a 5-year guarantee, although I hope both of mine will last longer than that. It needs a good tug to unwind, but is a pleasure to put away after watering the garden or washing the car. Just keep your hands clear of the orange bump stop. There is even a battery-powered version that might suit someone with a physical disabled.

The only problems now are cost and availability. Supplies seem to have competely dried up (no pun) due to Covid-19, Brexit, etc.

Madeleine Lyons says:
2 June 2021

I bought an expandable hose and the exact same thing happened with me. I allowed it to extend fully, turned it on, and it immediately started to shrink back, pulling me with it. The only way I could get it to work, was to remove the spray head and just allow a trickle of water to come out, but obviously this is not what it is supposed to do 😡

Les says:
14 July 2021

They are very easy to use and they don’t snag or get kinks when using them. Downside is they are very fragile and prone to break or get holes in them easily. You cannot repair them as tape will cause it to balloon up and explode. I love using them but they can be false ecconomy as they break so easily.

M Robinson says:
18 July 2021

I bought my second Xhose in spring and have discovered this morning that it has sprung a leak. I’m soaked but the garden isn’t. I have used it maybe ten times and spent a stupid £50 on a useless hose. Absolutely fuming. What a con!

Have you tried to get a refund from the retailer? Unless people take action these products will remain on sale and generate profits for the manufacturer.

Em says:
18 July 2021

The unbranded version sold by Robert Dyas states:

“This hose comes with a standard tap connector, suitable for almost any brand of outside tap adapter. Simply click this onto your tap connection for sealed water supply and enjoy the flexibility and convenience of this hose. However, it is not recommended that these types of hoses are used with high-pressure water systems.”

Almost every garden tap I have ever come across is connected directly to the mains water supply, typically just after the stopcock under the kitchen sink. Otherwise, you would end up with a trickle of water, hardly enough to wash the dog.

Unvented steel hot water cylinders (fed from the mains) need a pressure reducing valve set to 3.5 Bar to stop them exploding. 3.5 Bar is 50 psi, the same pressure as a fully inflated bicyle tyre. Unregulated mains pressure is typically twice that (100 psi+).

Is it any wonder that these flimsy rubber hoses leak and burst?

Here is a recent article about garden hoses, which warns of the need to take care with expandable hoses: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/07/five-tips-to-care-for-your-garden-hose-and-make-it-last/ More details pointing to poor durability can be found in a linked article.

Sadly there is no link to this Conversation, otherwise readers might learn that although these hoses are convenient they are unlikely to last for long.