I was tasked with watering my carrot seedlings yesterday, and figured I would give my new Gardena soft spray garden hose nozzle a try. Gardena hose-end products have a quick-connect fitting built right in, and so I attached the included quick-connect socket to my hose.
Actually, that’s not quite the order things happened. I first tried to connect my Hozelock 2-in-1 water diverter to my spigot, especially since it also offers a watering can outlet, and I found that the threads were incompatible. Then I spent some time getting sprayed in the face as I attempted to connect various quick connect fittings directly to the spigot. After all that, I then gave up and went to water the carrots with my new fine sprayer.
So, after getting sprayed in the face with water and frustrated at not being able to make a square peg fit a round hole, that’s when I decided to just proceed with the watering.
Wouldn’t you know, I ended up getting spritzed in the face a couple more times.
The thing about Gardena quick connect fittings is that they have a “water stop” function. Basically, there is an automatic valve that shuts off water flow when nothing is connected to the hose.
In theory, this means that you can disconnect an attachment and then quickly connect a new one.
However, things didn’t work out quite that way for me.
I could remove an attachment, but I could not connect anything while the water spigot was on and the valve was under pressure.
I did succeed once, quick disconnecting and reconnecting the same attachment, but that was a fluke.
I kept trying, and eventually stopped when I realized I’d eventually break something if I persisted.
I have used quick-disconnect fittings with water cooling loops before, and they never failed to behave as expected. If I wanted the connection disrupted, it just worked. When I wanted things reattached, it just worked. I had similar expectations for these Gardena quick connect sockets, but things worked out differently. In hindsight, I realize that my experience my water cooling lines involved pumps that were de-energized when I was working on them, and a water reservoir with small air gap provided relief for any built-up pressure.
I wasn’t just watering the carrots, I also wanted to test out another new spray I recently bought, a Hozelock heavy duty jet model.
To connect a spray nozzle, I had to shut off water. Then I had to remove the quick-connect fitting from the end of the hose. This is when I kept getting sprayed in the face – yes again. That’s the only way I was able to relieve the pressure.
With the pressure relieved, I then attached the sprayer nozzle. Then I walked back to turn on the water.
I did this process a couple of times, first in attempt to get the quick connect fittings to work, and then to use the two separate nozzles.
I also tried to kink the hose to stop the flow temporarily, but Flexzilla’s “won’t kink under pressure” advertising claims are very accurate. (I love their hoses, bought mine via Amazon.)
So here is what I learned: Gardena – and presumably other brands’ – water-stop feature does work! But, connecting to them can be difficult – or in my case impossible – to do while the hose is under pressure.
I believe that a hose-end flow control valve can help with this, but haven’t tested this out yet.
There’s this Melnor valve, priced at $6 via Amazon.
A valve like this is required for quick-connecting fittings that don’t have a water-stop valve built-in. It seems to me that this should also relieve the pressure facing quick-connect socket with water-stop valves like my Gardena, allowing for attachments to be quickly swapped without having to shut off the water source and bleed the pressure.
I guess my water pressure is high?
The spigot was also only partially turned on, in attempt to limit the pressure and volume of water leaking from the garden hose reel I haven’t repaired or replaced yet. Then again, it’s a frost-free hose bib with quarter turn valve, and so I’m sure that this was close to full pressure. Plus, this side of the house is close to the main water line.
I know there are pressure regulators that can help lower the spigot pressure, but that will also likely lower sprayer performance.
There are other hose-end valve options too, such as this Dramm One Touch valve ($22 via Amazon). This one is larger and with a more ergonomic handle, and I’m going to assume its die-cast zinc body is heavier duty than the Melnor. This valve handle is more intended to be used with hose wands and direct sprayer attachments that lack their own built-in control valves.
My initial reaction was of strong frustration, but I’m thinking – and hoping – than adding in a hose-end valve will allow me to use these quick-connect fittings to their full potential, for hot-swapping different attachments and sprayers.
Maybe my experience will save you from an unexpected shower or frustrations. My hope is that a hose-end valve will be the quick-fix that Gardena and quick-connect fittings with built-in water-stop valves need to work properly. And if not? I’ll have to come up with a messy Frankenstein system of compounded adapters that enables me to switch accessories without losing a drop of water and without having to walk back to the spigot valve.
I could also be wrong about all of this, or maybe my quick connect socket is somehow flawed or defective? All I know right now is that I can connect an attachment when the water source is off and the hose has been bled of pressure, and that I cannot connect an attachment when the spigot valve is open and the fitting’s automatic “water stop” valve is activated.
Edit/Update: I tried everything again, and it’s possible to connect the Gardena fittings under pressure, but only some of the time, and it’s difficult. I also have a Hozelock coupler, and it’s less difficult to engage, but still not effort-free.
Everything is made more difficult by not having flat surfaces to press together. Grabbing the hose end, which is a good size on my swivel-handle Flexzilla, depends on friction to apply force in the direction needed, and both of my sprayers have smooth and angled tops. As a commentor suggested, it would be easier if one of these items were immobile rather than both being handheld.
These attempts are also different because I used my new Hozelock sprayer with metal quick-connect fitting. The Gardena, shown above, has a plastic stem, and I find myself holding back in fear of breaking it.
I still believe that a handheld shut-off valve would allow for far easier operation, and there are some reasonably priced products that look suitable.