Rescue a Watering Can




Introduction: Rescue a Watering Can

I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making an...

This is my wife's plastic watering can.  The original sprinkler head cracked and fell off.  I replaced it with standard PVC parts from the local hardware store.

Why bother?  Most watering cans I found on-line were metal with prices ranging from $25 to $50 each.  I made my sprinkler head for about $3.50.

Step 1: Parts Needed

The red numbers identify each part.  Number 1 is a 1/2 inch male adapter.  Number 2 is 2 x 1/2 inch bushing.  Number 3 is a 2 inch slip cap.  The slip cap has been drilled by me to make sprinkler holes for the water streams.  The slip cap slides over the bushing and makes a fairly tight fit by itself.  You could glue it, but leaving it without glue allows you to remove it later.

Step 2: Fitting the Male Adapter

I intended to make photos of each step, but became so engrossed in the mechanics of making my sprinkler head work that I forgot to take the pictures. 

The factory threads on the watering can spout were 3/4 inch in diameter.  The male adapter slid over them with a close fit.  I drilled a hole about 3/16 inch in diameter through the sides of the male adapter.  Hot glue fills these holes to lock the male adapter on the threads.  I coated the threads on the water can with hot glue and quickly slipped the male adapter over the threads.  I also pressed some hot glue into the two holes I drilled.  The hot glue makes a good seal and very firmly secures the male adapter on the watering can spout.

Step 3: Finishing the Can

Drill about 20 holes 1/16 inch in diameter in the slip cap.  Spread them out evenly.  (Check each hole and clean away any burrs that restrict water flow.)  This will make a good shower effect when the water pours.  My mistake was that I made too many holes spaced too closely to one another.  That gave me a large dribble rather than a gentle shower.  I had to close some of the holes with hot glue. 

Screw the bushing onto the male adapter.  After drilling holes in the slip cap slide it onto the bushing. 

Step 4: The Shower of Water

Here you can see how the head makes a gentle shower of water streams.  For test purposes I am pouring water into the kitchen sink. 

Step 5: A Problem?

The inside of the bushing holds some water.  (I added coloring to the retained water so it is more easily seen in this photo.)  Even more water is retained initially, but some has dripped out.  A puddle about 3 inches in diameter forms under the new sprinkler head.  If you only use and store your watering can outdoors, this is likely no problem for you.  But, if you want the extra water to go away, you could drill a weep hole where you see the black dot and the retained water would be gone before you finished walking to your storage shed.



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    20 Discussions

    Thanks. It looks like it would work better with a bottle than a big watering can.

    Thanks for this idea! We had two watering cans without the tops, and decided that it would be worth trying. We did what you said, but put duck tape around the top instead of glue. It worked and now we have two beautiful watering cans!

    2 replies

    I like the idea of the duct tape (or maybe Teflon plumbing tape?). That way you can take the head off and clean it out, if needed.

    Good for you! If the duck tape ever fails or disintegrates, you can try the hot glue. And, you saved yourself some money. Whenever someone asks about your strange watering can, you can tell them about one of your favorite web sites where people can share things they like to do. Thank you for looking and for commenting.

    I've noticed the ones in Home Depot are now molded with the head on it; about $8.

    So, this will resurrect 2 cans for the price of one. And no landfill space used.

    As a "swamp Yankee", I like that.

    I picked up the parts today and just tried your fix. I thought the 1/16" holes would be too small, but that was exactly the right call for a light shower that won't batter seedlings. There's a bit of dribble where the adapter meets the spout, so I will be using your hot glue suggestion too. Thanks!

    1 reply

    Thanks for the report. I am pleased that you can use this. I hope it works well for you for a very long time.

    Someone threw away the sprinkler cap to my watering can. I just refused to toss it because I wanted a fix like this. I'm looking forward to trying it. I like the touch with dye and dot for illustration.

    1 reply

    Thanks. I hope this fix works well for you. It has for us. If the PVC plumbing parts you buy fit more loosely than you want, hot glue fills a lot of voids.

    We survived an earth quake and a tornato all in the same day. We were without power for more than 24 hours. It's been wild times around here.

    Ouch! I can only hope daytime temperatures were relatively comfortable when all of this happened.

    Good work, Phil! Except for extreme exceptions, it is always better to repair a gadget rather than throw it away.

    1 reply

    I had the same thing happen to my plastic watering can but it disappeared before I could hack it, I had an old shower head for it.

    1 reply

    When I was at the hardware store I looked at shower heads, but they cost more than I wanted to spend and I was not sure yet if the holes were the size I needed. Their threaded nuts were also a smaller diameter than the end of my watering can spout. Thank you for your comment.