When you want to avoid replacement and get a little more life out of your jetter hose, follow this advice.

Sooner or later, contractors who rigorously inspect their jetter hoses will discover a nick or cut that requires a repair. While taking hoses off a job and in for repairs can put a crimp in productivity, finding defects — which are inevitable, given the harsh conditions that hoses endure — is a good thing because it shields users from serious injuries that can result from hose blowouts.

Regular inspections are critical because small nicks can quickly become big problems under high pressure. Hoses can even get damaged in places you’d least expect. For example, while in a garage overnight, says Bernie Hengels, a marketing official at United Environmental Manufacturing Supply Inc./Hose and Televising (UEMSI/HTV), a national distributor of jetter hoses.

“I heard about one instance where a maintenance crew for a municipality was doing some welding during the night in a garage,” he says. “Some of the welding splatter fell onto a nearby jetter hose and burned through the outer jacket and into the braid. No one noticed it when the cleaning crew went to work the next morning and the hose failed. Now that’s a one in a thousand instance, but it underscores the importance of inspecting your hose every day.”

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“If you see something that’s even the least bit questionable — even the tiniest nick — give it the attention it needs,” adds Bob Glick, product specialist at Piranha Hose Products Inc. “Small things can quickly turn into big things. We’ve all heard plenty of horror stories out there.”

So you find a cut, nick or kink in a hose that has weakened that section and left it prone to a blowout — what’s the next move? (Hint: It does not include using a hose clamp and duct tape.) One thing users may want to consider is the cost of the hose. If the hose in question is, for instance, a 1/4- or 3/8-inch-diameter hose that costs $100, it might be nearly as cost-effective to buy a new one.

“But if you invested, say, $500, you probably want to make a repair,” Hengels says.

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The most common repair involves cutting off the hose and putting a new hose section on the end.

“A good rule of thumb is to cut off the hose at least one foot back (toward the hose reel) from the damaged area,” says Hengels.

Operators should always use fittings and dies made by the same company that made the hose. The inner cores are color-coded so operators can tell which company made the hose.

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Repairs are made with a machine called a swage (pronounced “swedge”), or crimper. A swage — which operates either manually or hydraulically — mechanically inserts the fitting under high pressure and, through the use of metal pieces called dies, crimps and snugly fastens the fitting so it doesn’t come loose when the hose is repressurized.

“If that fitting comes off under pressure and goes flying, it’s not a good thing,” Hengels says. “That’s why we also recommend operators never pressurize a hose above ground more than 100 psi.”

Just as with fittings, operators should use a swage machine and dies that are either provided or approved by the manufacturer of the hose being repaired. This will ensure a proper fit, Hengels says.

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“You can either buy your own swage system or go to a shop that has one,” he says. “But in either case, you need to have the right hose, the right fitting, the right dies and the right (swage) machine to make the proper mend. So identifying the hose manufacturer is very important.”

If a cut is discovered in the middle of an expensive hose, it can be repaired in two ways. One option is to cut out the damaged portion and reconnect the remaining two pieces of hose with male and female fittings, which can be attached with a swage. Or if you need to regain some hose length, operators can splice in a new section of hose, using special couplings called “menders.” In either case, just as with the aforementioned fittings, operators should use only male and female fittings and menders made or approved by the same company that manufactured the hose, Glick says.

A spliced-in section of hose should always be attached at least 50 feet from another mender or end fitting, and operators should not use more than two menders per 600 feet of hose, Glick adds. He notes that many times, contractors complain hose manufacturers are motivated to sell new hoses, so they’re always suggesting operators buy a new hose instead of making a repair.

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“They say we just want to make more money,” he says. “But at the end of the day, it always comes down to operator safety. We want to make sure users have the right hose from the right manufacturer and the right fittings. Then everyone can sleep well at night.”

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