How to Extend The Lifespan of Hydraulic Hoses
How to Extend The Lifespan of Your Equipment's Hydraulic Hoses
Reading time: 5 min
Hydraulic power is required for some of the most important systems on modern heavy equipment. From lifting heavy objects with an excavator’s bucket to operating a dozer over challenging terrain, hydraulic systems enable our machines to efficiently perform incredible feats of power.
In their most basic form, hydraulic systems use the properties of fluid mechanics to convert hydraulic pressure into linear power. This is accomplished by transferring hydraulic fluid in and out of hydraulic cylinders via an elaborate system of pumps and hoses.
When a hydraulic hose springs a leak, the entire hydraulic system is compromised. In the presence of a leak, hydraulic systems cannot maintain adequate pressure and operators may experience a sudden loss of power. To keep this critical system running efficiently, operators and fleet managers must develop a clear understanding of how to maintain and extend the lifespan of their machine’s hydraulic hoses.
This article will cover the best ways to keep your machine’s hydraulic hoses in good condition. Knowing how to extend the lifespan of these components will help you improve the efficiency of machines in your fleet and cut back on maintenance costs.
Understanding Hydraulic Hoses
Hydraulic hoses are integral to the functioning of heavy equipment. They act as conduits for hydraulic fluid, connecting critical components like pumps, valves, cylinders and hydraulic motors. This fluid, usually oil-based, is essential for transmitting power within the system.
There are different types of hydraulic hoses suited to various needs. Some common types include reinforced rubber hoses for general use, steel-reinforced hoses for higher-pressure applications and Teflon hoses for high-temperature environments.
The complexity and range of these hoses vary based on the type of construction equipment. For example, an excavator, which has a more intricate hydraulic system, will use a broader array of hoses compared to simpler machinery like a bulldozer.
The choice of hose depends on several factors, such as the pressure it needs to be able to withstand and the environmental conditions it will be exposed to. For example, machines operating in extreme temperatures or abrasive conditions require hoses with specific properties to ensure durability and efficiency.
Causes of Hydraulic Hose Failure
While hydraulic hoses are durable components built to withstand harsh environments, they are prone to failure for various reasons. Understanding these causes is essential for effective maintenance and operation.
Wear and Tear
Over time, hydraulic hoses naturally degrade. The inner layers can erode due to constant high-pressure flow. Frequent bending, especially in tight configurations, accelerates wear on the hose's exterior and may lead to cracks or leaks. Additionally, extended exposure to sunlight can make the rubber brittle, exacerbating wear.
Improper installation can result in excessive tension, incorrect alignment or undue stress at connection points, leading to premature failure. Ensuring that hydraulic hoses are installed according to manufacturer specifications is crucial to prevent these issues.
Hoses are susceptible to damage from external factors like abrasion, extreme temperatures and corrosive substances. Constant rubbing against other parts can erode the hose’s outer layer, while extreme temperatures can degrade the hose material. Corrosive substances can degrade both the interior and exterior of the hose.
The use of incompatible hydraulic fluid can chemically react with the hose material, leading to deterioration. Particulate contamination can damage the hose’s interior lining, causing wear and potential blockages. Water contamination, particularly in the hydraulic fluid, can lead to internal rusting and corrosion of metal components, compromising the hose's integrity.
Signs of Hydraulic Hose Damage
Signs of hydraulic hose damage include:
- Visible Wear or Damage: Look for abrasions, cuts, cracks or any noticeable damage on the hose surface.
- Leaking Fluid: Check for signs of hydraulic fluid leakage, such as oil stains or wetness near hose connections.
- Bulges or Kinks: These may indicate internal damage or blockages.
- Changes in Hydraulic System Performance: Slow operation or overheating could suggest internal hose deterioration.
- Inflexibility: A hose becoming stiff can indicate aging or cold temperatures affecting the rubber.
Regular inspections, ideally during routine maintenance or at least every few months, are essential for early detection and resolution of these issues. During inspections, look for signs of leakage, evident as oil stains or wetness around hose fittings, indicating a potential failure point.
Also, any changes in the performance of the hydraulic system, like slow operation or overheating, might indicate internal hose damage. Regular inspections should be conducted to identify and address these signs promptly.
Extending the Life of Hydraulic Hoses
Like other aspects of heavy equipment maintenance, the key to extending the life of hydraulic hoses comes down to a thorough preventive maintenance strategy. To extend the life of hydraulic hoses, ensure your preventive maintenance plan addresses these key areas.
Regular Cleaning and Inspection
Implement a schedule for cleaning and detailed inspections to identify issues like abrasions, leaks or degradation early.
Hydraulic Pressure Adjustment
Maintain the hydraulic pressure within recommended limits to reduce hose strain, prolonging their lifespan.
Ensure hoses are installed according to manufacturer guidelines. Proper routing, avoiding sharp bends and ensuring adequate support will prevent excessive stress and wear.
Protect hoses from extreme temperatures and corrosive substances. Use insulation or heat shields for temperature extremes and protective coatings for corrosion.
When to Repair vs Replace Hydraulic Hoses
When deciding whether to repair or replace a hydraulic hose, consider the extent of damage and the age of the hose in question. Minor damage like small abrasions may be repairable, but significant wear, tears or internal degradation usually require a replacement.
Cost considerations involve not just the immediate expense of repairing/replacing a hose, but also potential future costs due to downtime or further damage. Generally, if a hose is near the end of its expected lifespan, replacement is more cost-effective than repair and helps ensure the reliability of the equipment.
Maintaining hydraulic hoses in heavy construction equipment is crucial for optimal performance and safety. Ensuring proper installation, regular inspections, adjusting hydraulic pressure and protecting hoses from environmental elements are key to extending the lifespan of hoses in your equipment.
For high-quality hydraulic components, including OEM and aftermarket hoses, visit the EquipmentShare Shop today. Browse our extensive online parts catalog to find the exact parts your equipment needs. Don’t see what you’re looking for? Reach out to our parts experts and get personalized assistance.
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