Adjusting your Retractable Hose Reel Tension

  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-50
What You'll Need
Philips screwdriver
Socket wrench that fits the tensioning nut
Owners manual
What You'll Need
Philips screwdriver
Socket wrench that fits the tensioning nut
Owners manual

A retractable hose reel saves you time and effort while working in the yard. It also keeps your hose neatly coiled and protects it from exposure to the outdoor elements. To make sure your hose reel system delivers top notch convenience, it’s a good idea to know how to adjust the tension on the retractable reel.

1. What Makes The Hose Retract

The hose retracts because of a large spring within the hose reel. The tension on the spring is preloaded at the factory, but it is possible for the spring to become un-tensioned or to have too much tension. This can happen from normal use, faulty parts or it can happen if the weight of the hose you are using is different from the hose size suggested by the manufacturer.

2. Determine Factory Preset Tension

In order to adjust your particular model of hose reel system, you will need to consult the owner’s manual. It should tell you how many turns are needed for proper tensioning of your retractable hose reel. Keep in mind that if your hose is heavier or lighter than that suggested for use with your hose reel system, you may need to adjust the tension differently than your manual's recommendation.

3. Prepare The Reel

If your hose reel system is mounted, you will need to remove it from the mounting brackets and lay it on its side. Use the screwdriver to unscrew the hub plate, but do not remove the plate from the hose reel.

4. Adjust The Tension

With the hub unscrewed, place your socket wrench on the center hub nut and hold firmly. Note the factory preset and turn the hub nut the number of times recommended for your retractable hose reel. Increase the tension by turning the hub nut clockwise and decrease the tension by turning the hub nut counterclockwise. Do not increase the tension more than one turn past the factory preset.

5. Putting The Reel Back Together

Once you adjust the tension on your spring loaded hose reel system, retighten the screws on the hub plate. If you removed your retractable hose reel from its mounting bracket to service it, attach it to the mounting brackets again. Test the tension by pulling out a length of hose and then retracting the it again.

If the tension is still too loose or too tight, repeat the above steps and give the hub nut a half turn at a time until the proper tension is achieved.

A retractable hose reel is an investment in your garden hose as much as it is an investment for convenience. Follow maintenance procedures as outlined in your owner’s manual to keep it working properly. Should you need to adjust the spring loaded tension, the above steps should have it retracting smoothly in no time.

Retractable Hose Reel Tension FAQ

Why is my retractable hose not retracting?

High water pressure can keep a hose from retracting. Make sure the water is fully turned off, drain the hose, and this might help it to retract.

You can also fully extend the hose, pulling it out to its full length, and then attempt to make it retract. This will re-align the hose if it has gotten off track.

If you see any bends or kinks in the hose, pull it out to its full length and turn the water on. This should help straighten the hose so that it will retract more easily.

How do you retract a retractable hose?

To retract a retractable hose, start by turning off the water completely. Pull the hose out slightly and hold it out as straight as you can.

Pull the trigger on the hose to remove any water in the hose. Shake it a few times with the trigger engaged to get excess water out.

Release the locking mechanism that holds the hose in place while it's in use. Gently pull the hose toward the hose reel and this should trigger the automatic retraction.

How does auto rewind hose reel work?

Retractable and auto-rewind hose reels have a spring mechanism inside the reel housing that pulls the hose back into the housing. Tension builds on the spring when the hose is pulled out.

When you're done with the hose, this tension releases and pulls the hose back into the housing.

Why is my retractable cord reel not locking?

If you can't get your retractable hose to lock into position when it is pulled out of the reel housing, the spring mechanism that holds the hose in place and helps it to retract could be broken or bent. Sometimes, cleaning the spring can solve this problem.

What are the disadvantages of hose reel system?

The same mechanism that makes hose reel systems convenient also makes them problematic, as something can go wrong with these mechanics and prevent the hose from retracting or extending properly. Malnfucntions in the release and retract mechanics are the biggest disadvantages of the hose reel design.