The majority of carwashes today call on dozens of hoses to complete wash processes and generate profits. Pushing chemistry and water to the wash area is one huge responsibility, but various pieces of automated equipment depend on hydraulic hoses to operate as well. Because of this dependence carwash owners must remain vigilant with hydraulic hose inspection and replacement.

Jamie Vokes, national sales director of Pirtek, says the number one recommendation he promotes to carwash owners and operators is a preventative maintenance program. This is mainly comprised of frequent visual inspections looking to answer questions like:

  • Can leaks be seen?
  • Are hose clamps missing?
  • Are any hoses rubbing together or rubbing against equipment or framework?
  • Is any hose’s interior metal reinforcement exposed?

Included here are in-depth inspection and replacement tips for automated carwash locations as well as detail shops.

Inspection ideas

Inspect frequently: Inspection based on the time periods recommended in the equipment’s manual should be adequate, according to Vokes. This simple but vital step can be easy for owners or managers to forget or delay. The idea is, with every single piece of equipment, whether it is carwashing equipment or anything that operates with flexible or high-pressure lines, preventative maintenance is better than a full failure. Surprise hose failure on high-pressure systems frequently involves downtime for replacement, and during this repair period, an owner loses revenue.

Try dry inspection: Vokes suggests a carwash owner or manager wait until the carwash is dry and then check around hose assemblies. The absence of moisture will make leaks or other issues more evident. As hose assemblies on most pieces of equipment have two ends, an inspection should check for dampness behind the fittings where the metal meets the hose. Leaks here are a sign that a hose assembly is on its way out or could possibly fail.

Inspect fittings for rust: In the carwash environment, fittings often develop rust. While surface rust will not cause a hose assembly to fail, it is a sign that the fitting will eventually have to be replaced. Vokes says the longer the fitting is left to rust, the more difficult it is to remove.

Rust buildup can lead to other issues:

  • The fitting’s nut can break off
  • The rusted fitting may break
  • The assembly and fittings can end up rusted together.

Clamps, wires and sunlight

Check hose clamps: Some hoses in the carwash environment are held in place by metal tube clamps, Vokes states. With the frequent operation and movement of the equipment, the clamps can come loose, fall off or break. As they are metal and they are installed in a wet environment, oxidation and rust plays a part as well. Here, owners and operators must take the time to see if any clamps are missing. Prompt replacement of missing, damaged or loose clamps is highly recommended.

Look for rubbing or catching: If clamps are missing, is the absence causing hose assemblies to rub together or get caught? The most common causes for hose failures are assemblies rubbing together, Vokes says. In the carwash environment, with equipment that is older but is still operating on a regular basis, this rubbing can quickly remove the hose’s rubber exterior and expose the wire reinforcements inside. This will lead to potential problems as the rubber coating is there to protect the wire reinforcements.

Exposed wires: Vokes notes that it is these wire reinforcements that hold the pressure as well as hold the assembly together. When the rubber coating is rubbed away or damaged and the metal reinforcement is exposed, rust is a concern due to the amount of moisture in the typical wash environment. Thus it is important to inspect hoses for rubbing, and if a hose has been damaged in any way exposing the wire reinforcements, replacement should be imminent.

The effects of sunlight: If the carwash is in direct sunlight, ultraviolet light can play a factor in hose longevity as well. Here, an owner is not just looking at the outer layer for wear, but for cracking as well. According to Vokes, if the rubber cracks, parts of it can fall away and expose the wire reinforcements. Much like in the previous scenario, this creates rust on the metal reinforcements and will ultimately lead to hose failure.

Best practices

Track hose replacements: Two important steps in preventative maintenance are: keeping extra hoses on-hand and logging the hoses that have been replaced. Vokes suggests a color-coded tag or color-coded tie wrap system. If an operator simply puts a tag or wrap on the hose assembly itself, it can easily be used to mark and log when it was replaced by year. Color coding is a simple way for an operator to track when the hose was last replaced.

Changing multiple hoses: Finally, if there are two or three hoses that have a similar operation, an owner should consider changing all the hoses, even if only one fails. Here, the initial failure is probably a good indication that the other hoses could fail. This step helps prevent failure by replacing older hoses that are operating in the same or a similar environment.