Have you ever gone outside to water, and when you turn the hose on, there’s a noticeable lack of water pressure? The water may even seem to be coming out of the end ridiculously slow. It’s incredibly frustrating, for sure.
One of the key ways to avoid struggling with paltry water pressure is by buying an appropriately sized hose for your yard. Due to physics, the further water travels through a length of garden hose, the more the water pressure drops.
As water travels through a long hose, it comes in contact with more internal surface area than a shorter one. The greater surface area leads to more friction and a loss in water pressure as the distance increases.
So, let’s talk about water pressure and all things hose-related, so you make sure you’re getting the right amount of water out of the hose end when it’s time to water plants!
Understanding Water Pressure and Flow Rate
While we don’t think of the mechanics behind it, water doesn’t come out on its own when you turn on a hose. You may remember from physics an object will stay at rest until acted on by an unbalanced force. For water to move through a hose, a force pushes the water. That force is known as water pressure.
Many of us call how much water flows out of a hose when it’s on water pressure, but this isn’t technically water pressure, but rather flow rate.
Flow rate is simply the volume of water that goes through a hose each minute. The flow rate is usually expressed in gallons per minute or GPM in abbreviation.
A higher water pressure remaining at the hose opening means water comes out at a greater flow rate. When water pressure drops, the force pushing the water has less energy, so it can’t move as much water. Lower water pressure at the end of the hose slows the flow rate.
As a result, less water comes out of the end of the hose.
Measuring Water Pressure
Water pressure is measured in bars, a metric unit that most of us aren’t familiar with. One bar of pressure is needed to raise water to a height of ten meters. It is also equal to about 14.5 pounds of pressure per square inch (psi). The average water pressure measured as water comes into the main supply for your home is between 40 and 80 psi.
If you are on municipal water, the water pressure coming into your house depends on your location and the number of people drawing from the water supply.
Houses on hilltops experience lower pressure coming into their homes than those in a valley or on a straight shot from their water source. When many people are using city water, the pressure is also lower.
The water has a designated water pressure as it leaves the reservoirs, tanks, or water towers. More force is needed to push water through mains to reach higher elevations, resulting in a lower pressure coming into your home. When many people use water simultaneously, the overall water pressure is split in more directions, resulting in a lower pressure coming into your home.
What Affects Water Pressure in Your Hose
When you water your garden, flowerbeds, or the lawn, you want a garden hose that works well and provides plenty of water. Since water pressure helps determine how much water comes out of the end of the hose, we need to talk about the factors affecting the pressure.
Water pressure decreases due to friction between the water and the hose itself. The more friction the water experiences, the more the pressure will drop because the friction is pulling energy from the moving water. The more the pressure drops, the slower the flow rate out of the hose.
Different hose qualities contribute to how much friction is experienced and the resulting water pressure and flow rate. To keep your pressure as high as possible, it’s essential to understand the interplay.
Hose length affects both the water pressure and the water flow rate. As water travels further through a long hose, the pressure reduces, and the flow rate drops. Because of this, it’s critical when buying a hose that you look for one that is only slightly longer than the furthest distance you need to cover. In this case, having a lot of extra length isn’t helpful.
Garden hoses typically have an inner diameter of ¾”, ½,” or ⅝.” The larger the inner diameter, the higher the water pressure is traveling through it. More force is needed to move water through a bigger hose since it has the capacity for more water to move through it. Less water pressure is required to move the reduced amount flowing through a narrower hose.
Since friction is the main counter-force impacting water pressure, hose material may cause water pressure to drop. Most garden hoses are made of vinyl, rubber, or a combination of the two materials. Rubber has a higher friction coefficient than vinyl, so it will lower water pressure more than vinyl, although the difference may be negligible.
How to Measure Water Pressure
If you are interested in checking the water pressure of your garden hose, the best way to do so is to use an inexpensive pressure gauge. Many places online give instructions on testing water pressure by timing how long it takes to fill a vessel, but this is measuring the flow rate, not the water pressure.
- Choose an outdoor spigot close to where the main water supply line comes into your home or one close to your well’s pressure tank.
- Turn off all of the faucets indoors and any appliances using water (dishwasher, washing machine, ice maker, etc.). If water moves through the plumbing system, it will give you a lower reading.
- Remove the hose from the faucet.
- Screw the pressure gauge onto the faucet, hand tightening it until snug. If it leaks when you turn the water on, use tongue and groove pliers or a wrench to tighten the connection gently.
- Turn the faucet fully on read the dial on the gauge.
How Do You Increase Water Pressure In Your Hose?
If you’re frustrated with low water pressure in your hose, there are different ways you can increase it. The first step to improving the water pressure is checking to make sure there isn’t anything in your control that is reducing pressure. Then, if you’re still not getting the pressure you’d like, you can try to boost it.
Troubleshooting Issues that May Reduce Water Pressure
Check Hose Connection – One of the first spots to investigate is the connection between the female hose end and the spigot at the faucet. If water is dribbling from the nozzle section—or shooting a torrent of water—you likely have a poor connection. Try unthreading the hose from the spigot and reattaching it, using your hand to tighten it as much as possible.
If this doesn’t help, try replacing the gasket inside the hose to create a better seal.
Check for Leaks – Once you rule out a poor connection, it’s a good idea to check your main supply life for leaks. A leaking pipe inevitably causes a pressure drop. Turn off all the faucets in your house and any appliance that uses water. Then check the water meter. If it is spinning while everything is off, you might have a leaky pipe.
A leaky pipe is never a fun discovery, but getting it fixed will increase your water pressure and lower your water bill!
Check if Twisted – Something as simple as a twist in the hose could cause reduced water pressure. Always keep your hose straight when working, periodically checking for twists that affect the flow. If your hose bunches up, a quick flick of your wrist may straighten it out. If not, use your hands to fix it and keep working.
Check for Clogged Lines – Once you rule out leaks and problems with the hose itself, the next step is to check and see if a supply line is clogged. Sometimes sediment or other debris builds up in the lines to cause clogs and, in turn, reduces pressure. This is more prevalent in old metal pipes prone to rust and corrosion.
If you have PEX or PVC supply lines, the chances of a clog are lower, but it’s still worth checking for.
Check the Pressure Regulator – Water supply lines typically have an adjustable pressure-reducing valve (PRV) close to the water meter on the side of the home. If the gauge displays a low reading, adjust the regulator by turning it clockwise with a wrench in quarter-turn increments until the pressure comes up to the desired level.
Install a Garden Hose Pressure Booster
If you’ve tried troubleshooting all of the common reasons your pressure may be lacking and you do not see improvement, the final option is to use a garden hose pressure booster. A water booster pump has an impeller that increases water pressure and flow, similar to how a fan increases air movement.
The Basics of Garden Hose Lengths
Garden hoses come in lengths of twenty-five-foot increments: 25, 50, 75, and 100 feet. When buying a garden hose, your first instinct may be to buy a much longer length than you need, but this is one case where more isn’t better. Measure from your hose bib to the furthest watering point in your yard and buy a hose just slightly longer.
The extra length does no good and only works to decrease the water pressure and flow coming out the end of the hose. Do yourself a favor and buy only what you need.
The Verdict—Does the Length of a Garden Hose Affect Water Pressure?
Now that we’ve talked about all the different things that can affect water pressure in your garden hose let’s come back to the original question. Does the length of a hose affect its pressure?
Yes, the hose length is highly correlated to pressure. As hose length increases, the water comes in contact with more surface area inside the hose. This friction causes more pressure to be lost the longer the hose length. As the pressure drops, the flow rate declines.
If you notice low water pressure and flow rate, there may be something wrong that you can fix and improve. And if troubleshooting doesn’t fix the problem, there are pressure boosters that you can install.