Fixing a Leaking Hose Reel

So wouldn't you know it, after reading all those reviews when I was trying to decide what type of hose reel I should get and seeing so many reports about leaks, as soon as I installed my hose reel, it leaked badly!

This post is going to be my initial review of the Suncast Side Tracker Wall Mount Hose Reel (model STA125B) as well as some information on how to fix leaks. The hose reel is great after everything was sorted out.

There are two types of leaks people seem to get. Leaks from where the spool connects to the base and leaks from the back of the leader hose fitting. I was anticipating the former at some point in the future. I was surprised that I encountered the later right away. But it was an easy fix so I'm not too concerned right now.

Leaking Spool/Base Connection

The first type of leak comes from the connection between the spool and the base of the hose reel. There are two o-rings on either side of the hole that the water comes out of. The o-rings keep the water from spilling out where it shouldn't. If you've ever had to repair a single handle faucet you'll recognize it's similar. Over time those o-rings deteriorate and won't hold water. They also need to be greased.

That's not too big of a problem as the o-rings are cheap and easy to replace. Since the product is covered by a 5 year warranty I think Suncast will replace the o-rings if they wear out within that time though I haven't had to try it. I didn't have any problem getting replacement o-rings when my kitchen faucet started to leak if that's any indication.

The hose reel comes with a little packet of silicon grease to lubricate the o-rings. This also helps keep the hose reel from leaking. It is important to apply silicon grease to the o-rings every year when you put the spool back on the hose reel hub to keep it from leaking and wearing out the o-rings too fast. This should help your hose reel last longer.

The little packets of silicone grease from Suncast are expensive for the small amount of silicone you get. It's important to use real silicone grease because it will extend the life of the o-rings. I bought a 2oz jar of Trident silicone grease online because I had a hard time finding 100% silicone grease locally. The Trident silicone grease is 100% Dimethylpolysiloxane (non-hazardous, food grade silicone grease.) The 2 ounce size is more economical than the little packets you buy fro SunCast or even the little jars I did manage to find locally.

DO NOT USE VASELINE! Or any other petroleum based product. The petroleum will cause the o-rings to break down faster! USE ONLY 100% Silicone Grease!

Leader Hose/Hub Connection Leak

The other type of leak I encountered was from the back of the hose reel, at the connection where the leader hose (the hose that comes with the hose reel and attaches it to the water supply) attaches to the hose reel base. Based on some of the reviews, this seemed to be a problem others had as well.

Water was coming out the back of this hose fitting. I knew right away what the problem was and was kicking myself for not spotting it earlier.


The leader hose is supposed to have a garden hose washer in the coupling to prevent it from leaking. When I was assembling and installing the hose reel, I noticed it didn't have a washer but didn't think anything of it.

Garden hose washers are inexpensive and you can find them at your local hardware store for a couple of bucks for a pack of 10. It's good to have some extras in case the hose reel, or your hose starts leaking.

Over time the rubber washers wear down as well as get hard and brittle which causes them to leak so it's important to replace them every few years. They just slip into the garden hose connector. You need to push it in all the way to the bottom. Once it's in, it won't fall out, but you can pull it out with a pair of needle nose pliers if you ever need to replace it.

Luckily I had some washers available and I was able to complete the install.

Use Teflon Tape

Where the hose meets the hose real I also wrapped some teflon tape around the threads  Teflon tape is a thread sealing tape you can find in the plumbing supply section of the hardware store. By the way, it's not really called Teflon tape but everyone calls it that. I don't think DuPont even makes plumbers tape.

It is normally used on metal to metal fittings but you can also use it on plastic fittings. It's a bit hard to wrap it around the fitting while in the hub but I managed to get 5 wraps on. This helps seal the threads to prevent leaks.

Suncast Side Tracker STA125B Wall Mounted Hose Reel Review

UPDATE 6/28/09: Around the time I posted this blog entry I emailed Suncast's customer support department and provided them with the product information, copy of receipt and a list of the parts that I would need to fix the leaking hose reel. In about 2 weeks I received an email that my parts will be sent out to me, another couple of weeks later and I received a shipping notice. It took about a month to receive the parts but Suncast honored their warranty without any problems.

No issues trying to convince them the stuff was really missing and they provided another packet of silicon grease which I requested since I would have to take the reel holder off the base. I'm very happy with this purchase. Some parts of my lawn wouldn't get watered because I dreaded removing the hose and then hanging it back up. That's not the case anymore.

I've only had it installed for a couple of hours, so this isn't going to be a comprehensive review, but I wanted to share my initial impressions of the Suncast Slide Tracker Hose Reel (STA125B).

First, the base seemed pretty sturdy and it had 4 screw holes. The package came with 4 long screws and anchors which I needed since I would be attaching the hose reel to a brick wall. The little parts baggie also had a little packet of silicon grease for the o-rings.

Use a masonry bit to drill the holes for the anchors. Try not to drill them deeper than necessary. I also like to use a smaller sized bit than necessary because the vibration and movement tends to make the hole bigger than it needs to be. The anchors should easily fit into the holes with just a bit of tapping with a hammer. The 4 screws seemed to be sufficient to hold the hose reel in place.

Installation was painless, the only difficulty is getting the leader hose connection tight. It's very awkward to get a pair of channel locks or a small pipe wrench into the tight space.

I didn't have too many options of where I could attach the hose reel. The leader hose that connects to the outdoor faucet is only 4' long. There are 2 indents in the base where the hose can pass through. One on the left and one on the right. I would have preferred if there was another pathway for the hose to come out closer to, or directly at the bottom of the hose reel.

Once the hose reel base is attached to the wall, I used the silicon grease on the o-rings. There are 2 o-rings, a white and blue one. Just cut the silicone lubricant packet and squeeze some onto each o-ring and spread it around with your finger. You don't need too much. I used a little more than half of the packet. I kept some in reserve in case I needed to take the spool off, which I did when I discovered the leak I mentioned above.

Once the base is securely mounted to the wall, it's easy to snap the spool onto it. From there it's just a matter of feeding the end of the hose up through the roller slot on the bottom and then screwing it onto the connection on the spool. The connections are plastic, so be careful not to strip the threads.

The hose I used was a Gilmour Flexogen 100' 5/8" hose that I had before I purchased the hose reel. It's a very strong hose that isn't easy to kink and has strong connectors that won't bend. It has a very good warranty as well and Gilmour is a brand I've always been happy with. Click on the picture on the left for more info on the hose.

One of my concerns was the connector that attaches to the spigot. As you can see from the photo, it is a big peice of plastic. Since this now will connect to the spool of the hose reel, where the hose gets wound, I was concerned that it wouldn't fit and I'd have to use my old kinked hose.

Thankfully, I didn't have a problem. It does seem to waste some space, but not that much. I also made sure to get the hose reel that had a capacity of 125' of 5/8" hose just to be safe.

The roller guide was the feature that attracted me most to this spool. As I expected, it makes it easy to pull the hose out in any direction I would need whether it is straight ahead or to the side.

In relation to the spool, the hose is always beeing fed down so I don't have to worry about straining the hose reel.

It doesn't feel like it's going to fall off the wall, but I'm still careful to not yank on it if it binds if there's a kink. From my limited tests, the hose rolls off the spool very smoothly and easily.

Reeling the hose back up is also easy. It's important to take off any spray attachment you have before you start reeling the hose back up. That way, water can drain out of the hose to help reduce the wait on the spool.

Again, I make sure there aren't any kinks to bind things up or restrict the flow of water later. I also pull the hose closer with one hand, then wind up the slack with the reel. This way, I'm not putting much strain on the hose reel. It seems pretty sturdy and I might not need to baby it as much, but I also find it easier to pull the hose with my hand. The process is simple, yank, reel, yank, reel, repeat until all the hose is in the spool except the little bit that hangs through the roller slot.

I'm pleased with the hose reel so far but I would have been happier if the garden hose washer wasn't missing. It does look much nicer

 on the wall than my previous hose hanger. You barely see the hose in the spool compared to the loopy mess I had before.
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