Damaged Hydraulic Hoses can cause serious injuries

Hydraulic Hose:  The artery of a healthy hydraulic system.
Nothing shuts down a hydraulic system or makes it unsafe to use more than a damaged or cracked hydraulic hose.  Hydraulic hoses act as the arteries of the hydraulic system, flowing hydraulic fluid from the pump to the cylinders.  Much like our own bodies, when there is a problem in our arteries, blood cannot flow to the rest of our body, causing it to perform poorly or not at all.  The same can be said for hydraulic hoses.  If the hydraulic fluid cannot flow to the cylinder, then the cylinder cannot perform its work.  What is worse is that unlike the low pressure when our heart pumps blood through our body, a hydraulic pump can build pressures up to 10,000 psi or higher, turning a cracked hose into a lethal weapon.  When a hydraulic hose bursts, it can “shoot” out hydraulic fluid which can penetrate your skin leading to burns, infections, and in some cases, amputations and even death.  Luckily, this can all be avoided by following good safety protocols to inspect and test the hoses before operation.  The following guidelines will help you establish a great routine to make sure your hoses stay in good shape and get replaced before a problem occurs.

  1. Examine all hoses prior to work – A damaged or compromised hose can easily fail and, if it doesn’t fail, it may still not perform adequately for the work at hand. Look for the following:
    1. Kinked hose – check to make sure there are not any kinks in the hose line. Pay particular attention near the ends of the hose and make sure the protective sheath is still in place.  The sheath is there to protect from sharp bending near the hydraulic connection.
    2. Be aware of the minimum bend allowance for your hose – Different diameter hoses and material construction have different specifications. As a rule of thumb, do not have sharp bends. When a hydraulic hose is pressurized, it stiffens and puts additional strain on the system, especially at the ends.  Make sure there is ample room to allow for this movement.
    3. Examine the hose closely for defects – look closely at the hose before operation and examine it for pin holes, scuffs, cracks or cuts. If any of these are present, replace the hose immediately.
  2. Always protect hydraulic hoses – Do not expose to heat, sparks, chemicals that can damage the hose. Never drag a hose across the floor or terrain.  Do not run over a hose or allow anyone to use the hose as a carrying handle when bringing a pump or cylinder to the job site.
  3. Make sure the hose is rated correctly – hoses need to be rated for the highest pressure in the system. In most instances, the hose needs to be rated at or above the pressure rating for the pump.  Your hose will have two ratings.  One is the operating pressure.  That is the typical pressure (should be the same as the pump) and the other is the “burst” pressure.  That is the pressure at which the hose may burst.  This should be a minimum of twice the operating pressure.  For example, a 10,000 psi hose should have a burst pressure of 20,000 psi or more.  Sometimes, a hose may have a burst pressure of 4 times the operating pressure.  For instance, a 3,000 psi hose with a 4X burst rating would have a burst rating of 12,000 psi.  Even though the burst pressure is 12,000 psi, this should never be used in a 10,000 psi system.  It is not safe!

Hydraulic systems are self-contained pressure units with the pump as the heart of the system and the hydraulic hoses as the arteries.  In order to maintain a safe and healthy hydraulic system, it is imperative that you protect and inspect your hydraulic hoses before each use.  At PowerX we specialize in 10,000 psi hydraulic systems.  If you are looking for help please give one of our application engineers a call at 1-414-988-6202 or visit us at www.powerxinternational.com.