How To Prevent Leaks in Rabbit Watering Systems
We have installed and maintained several rabbit cage watering systems using 1/4" O.D. black "flex tubing" connected to brass Edstrom drinking valve fittings (we started with an AgSelect.com kit). These systems use a push-fit where the hose is a slip fit over the outside of a brass fitting (connector, tee, or drinking valve.)
One of the problems we have had in the past is the hoses tend to leak or slip off due to the hose stretching in hot weather, or becoming brittle due to aging. This can create minor annoyances, or major catastrophe depending on the extent of the leakage.
How did we fix the problem?
We have tried a number of solutions, like small hose clamps, clips, or wrapping baling wire around the hose at the connection - small hose clamps are expensive and hard to find, the spring-type clips do not do much good; and baling wire is tedious to install, and can cut thru the vinyl hose, causing worse leakage - and, the baling wire rusts or breaks.
Fit to be tied
The best solution we have come up with is to use small plastic "cable ties" (typically used in electronics or automotive applications to retain wires).
You will need to find a source for the proper size plastic cable ties. We use narrow width, 4" long ties. They can be downright expensive if you purchase them the typical way (in small packages of 10 or so at your local hardware store, automotive parts store, or Radio Shack). So, you want to find an online source or local electronics supply house for bulk purchases - we get a bag of 1000 4", 18lb. tensile strength ties for about $10.
Another useful item is a cable-tie gun - one pull, and it cinches the tie down tight (you can adjust the tension) and cuts the tie off for you, without sharp edges. This is a real timesaver, and ensures consistent tension on the plastic ties. We use a Greenlee model 45306 tie gun. The tool should cost you about $20-$25.
We use two ties per connection, installed at staggered angles (the 'head' of the ties should not be adjacent so we stagger the ties at about 45 degrees or more and apply the ties in oppositie directions). See the photos below for details.
Of course, you will have to experiment with the proper tension and arrangement.
We've not experienced any leaks since we started using this method.
Update - 5/28/2007
We're moving our rabbit hutches, and we plan on updating the watering system to simplify set-up and maintenance of the waterers. Stay tuned...