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7 Signs Your Hydraulic Hose Needs Repaired or Replaced

Hydraulic hose failure can bring your hydraulic system to a halt, put your employees in danger, and potentially damage your equipment or lead to a mess with environmental consequences. Recognizing potential hydraulic hose failure signs and repairing or replacing the hose before that failure occurs is the best way to keep a safe work environment and protect company equipment. 

What Is the Main Job of a Hydraulic Hose, & What Constitutes Hose Failure?

The main purpose of a hydraulic hose is to transmit fluid and to exclude outside contaminants (water, air, particulate matter, etc.). Hose failure means that the hose is no longer able to contain the fluid, or it can no longer prevent outside contaminants from entering the fluid. 

When hydraulic hoses fail, it not only affects the system performance but can also lead to severe damage to equipment, hazardous working conditions for employees, and spraying potentially environmentally hazardous fluid all over the area, resulting in fines.

What Is a Hydraulic Hose Made of? 

Hydraulic hoses are comprised of four parts: the tube, the reinforcement, the cover, and the fittings. The innermost part of a hydraulic hose is the tube, which is what the fluid contacts as it flows through the system. 

The reinforcement surrounds the tube, giving the tube the necessary strength to handle the high pressures involved with transmitting hydraulic fluid. The reinforcement is made of wire and usually takes one of three forms: spiral, braided, or helical. 

The outermost layer of a hydraulic hose is the cover, which protects both the tube and the reinforcement from outside damage. More protective covers may be added to the cover to protect the hose from extreme heat or abrasion. 

The fitting at either end of the hose is made of stainless steel, carbon steel, or brass, and it connects the hose to the equipment. 

How Long Does a Hydraulic Hose Last?

There are a number of variables that contribute to the lifespan of a hydraulic hose, including:

  • Application
  • Working environment
  • UV rays
  • Temperature
  • Pressure
  • Materials
  • Build quality 

Most rubber has around a ten-year shelf life, and some hydraulic hoses can indeed last up to ten years in the right conditions. Many hoses last somewhere between five and ten years, depending on the variables listed above. 

The best way to repair or replace an industrial hydraulic hose in time is to watch for external signs of wear and tear. Eighty percent of hydraulic hose failures can be visibly seen with external damage such as pulling, kinking, cracks, abrasion, or crushing. 

Record when a hose was manufactured and installed, as well as when it fails and needs to be replaced. If replacement is repeatedly below the two-year mark, find what external factors are wearing through the hose so quickly. Check if the hose specifications meet its operating parameters, and watch for high temperatures, if the hose touches hot objects, how long the machinery operates at a time, and other physical factors like abrasion. 

Hydraulic Hose Failure Warning Signs

Fortunately, there are visible signs of industrial hydraulic hose failure. If you notice any of these red flags, schedule immediate repair or replacement. 

Crushed Hoses

Hydraulic hoses can bend up to a certain angle and still be within operating specifications. However, if the rubber wears out, weakens, or gets crushed by outside forces, the hose may break, leading to a pressure buildup in the hose. This buildup puts pressure on an already weakened section of the hose, which will cause a burst hose and hydraulic failure. 

Liquid Leaks

If you see any liquids leaking, stop and find the source of the leak. Leakage can be a sign of improper installation, or a break or crack in your hydraulic hose. If not quickly addressed, leaks can lead to hydraulic failure and a burst hose line. Sometimes, it’s the fitting that needs to be replaced, while other times, it’s the hose itself that requires replacement. 

Do not use your hand to find leaks. Highly pressurized hydraulic fluid can spit out of a pinhole leak at high velocity and cause an injection injury where the fluid is trapped beneath your skin. The safest approach to finding pinhole leaks is using a piece of cardboard or plywood instead of your hand. 

Kinks & Cracks

Following a preventative maintenance schedule will help you take the time to inspect your machinery and hoses, and check for any kinks or cracks. Any kinking or cracking is a clear sign that your hose is beginning to wear down. If the hose is so brittle it cracks when it bends a little, it is time to replace the hose. 

Exposed Reinforcement Wire or Abrasive Damage

If you see any exposed reinforcement wire or significant cover abrasion, you should replace the hose before it fails.  Small scuffs or nicks in the outer cover of the hose are normal, but if the damage goes beyond this, it’s time to replace it. 

Rust & Various Buildup

Keep an eye out for rust or other buildup on your hose and fittings. Rust can be a sign that it’s time to replace your hoses.

Generally, red or orange rust is a clear sign that the hose needs to be replaced. White residue or buildup is okay and isn’t a cause for concern. If the white buildup is excessive, it’s best to find the source of the problem and clear it off. 

Cracked Fittings

If your fittings are cracked or corroded, it’s time to replace them. Hydraulics deliver fluid at high pressures; any weakness in the system can cause a full failure, with hydraulic fluid spraying everywhere. It’s usually best to replace the fittings and hose in this situation. 

Incorrect Pressure

Hydraulic hoses can experience internal issues that are not easily visible. In some cases, the tube may be constricted, or there may be hidden leaks.

As part of your maintenance schedule, test the pressure of your hydraulic system and ensure the pressure is as expected. Identify the cause of any very high or low-pressure results. 

Magnum Industrial provides high-quality industrial products that you can count on. If you need hydraulic hoses, fittings, couplings, or any other industrial product, Magnum Industrial is ready to help. Contact us today for more information on our products and services.