Tips on Maintaining your Hydraulic Hoses
Your hydraulic equipment works hard. It’s designed to do that, but even the toughest machine can’t perform well – or long – without proper preventive maintenance. Taking good care of your hydraulic hoses is an essential part of any regular service program.
There are three types of problems that can sideline hydraulic hoses. If you address each of these issues during regular inspections and maintenance, you can avoid failures that cause unnecessary expense and downtime.
- Site damage
Hydraulic hoses are exposed, so there is always the possibility of environmental damage. Construction sites, scrap yards, and similar worksites are especially hazardous to hydraulic hoses. Colliding with jagged rock, concrete, steel, or rebar, hoses can become abraded, get crushed, or be slashed or severed.
What to do?
Examine hoses carefully during regular inspections, looking for external wear or cuts. Replace hoses as soon as you find damage, to avoid more serious problems. If the machine spends a lot of its working time in a particularly damage-prone environment, it may be more cost-effective to cover the hose assembly with a metal sleeve or protective textile.
- Wear and tear
Normal wear and tear occurs over time, but exposure to the elements also causes wear and tear on the hose assembly’s exterior. Ultraviolet light degrades the protective outer covering, causing it to harden, crack, and eventually break off. When this happens, the steel wire reinforcement is exposed. It can rust, and that will damage the hose. Hydraulic hose assemblies are designed to last a specific number of system cycles. They will fail if that number is exceeded.
What to do?
Create a checklist to use during routine maintenance, so nothing is overlooked. Include photos or illustrations as needed. Look for:
- Loose clamps that allow hoses to rub
- Moisture behind the ferrule
- Oxidation or rust on fittings
- Cracked or missing coverings
- Exposed reinforcement wire
Replacing hose clamps and brackets when performing regular maintenance ensures the assembly remains fully protected and is not exceeding the recommended number of cycles.
Oil pressure drives hydraulic hoses, so if the oil becomes contaminated, failures will follow. Oil contamination generally results from problems elsewhere in the system. If a part starts to break down, it can slough off fragments. They may be tiny enough to pass right through the oil filter units, but they will still be able to abrade the inner hose liner. For that matter, simply opening the hydraulic system to add oil can allow damaging particles to get into the system.
What to do?
Every manufacturer defines the expected lifecycle of components and recommends intervals for replacing oil and filters. Follow those recommendations. Institute an oil sampling program to ensure oil cleanliness and allow early detection of problems. The sooner you identify and fix those problems, the least intrusive and costly they will be. Consider adding a backup filtration unit.
Who’s doing the work?
If you’re using an outside vendor to care for your hydraulic hose assemblies, be sure you’ve chosen a top-quality company, because how they do their work can directly affect the performance and lifespan of your hoses. They should use only hoses and fittings that match yours – either from the same OEM or an appropriate combination. Randomly mixing and matching products without proper testing may cause premature failures. Fittings should also be impulse tested according to SAE requirements.
Be sure your vendor is not using a saw, metal blade, or an abrasive wheel to cut your hydraulic hoses. These tools generate a considerable amount of heat, in turn creating metal particles and rubber dust – contaminants that will stick to the hose tube as it cools. Instead, they should employ multiple contamination control measures.
With the right hose provider and a maintenance program that includes the above tips, you can expect your hydraulic hose assemblies to deliver top performance and a long life.