13 Causes of Brew Hose Failure

Brewers can get the most life out of their brew hoses, and optimize their return on investment, by selecting and using hoses safely and properly. Recognizing these 13 factors that can cause hoses to fail prematurely can help you avoid them.

13) Incorrect hose length  A brew hose that’s too short can’t expand or contract with changes in pressure and temperature. A short length can cause excessive stress on the fittings or hose reinforcement, and you do not want anyone pulling on a too-short hose to try to reach its attachment destination.

12) Defective hose  Hoses are made from a unique blend of different materials with complex manufacturing methods. Inconsistent machinery, poor quality of raw materials, or human error can result in defects or variances greater than allowable tolerances. Failure from a faulty hose will typically occur in the first few hours of service and can be in the form of pin holes, blow-outs, or tube and cover separation. Examine each brew hose before you use it. An endoscope or borescope is an easy-to-use instrument that allows you to exam the inside of a brew hose and requires only a moderate investment. An examination won’t catch every defect, but it may help prevent some hoses from being put into service.

11) Exceeding the minimum bend radius  Forcing a hose to bend more than it’s designed to can cause brew hose failure. A hose’s minimum bend radius, measured from the inside edge of the hose and not its centerline, can cause the hose to kink, or over time in extreme cases, split. This is more commonly seen on high pressure hoses or vacuum hoses.

10) Improperly selected fittings and collars  Clamps, collars and fittings that aren’t sized properly can result in the fitting being ejected – sometimes quickly – from the end of the hose. The hardware must be carefully mated so that it locks together during the hose assembly process. Ejection can also result from the mixing and matching of incompatible hose, fittings, collars and/or clamps.

9) Kinking at or near a fitting  If the barb of a fitting cuts into the liner of the hose, the product being conveyed can escape into the reinforcement layers and eventually lead to bubbling or blistering of the cover at or within several feet of the hose end. To avoid this situation, only experienced hose assembly technicians, using the proper, dedicated equipment, should crimp fittings and collars.

8) Twisting a hose during installation or service  Twisting a hose, rather than naturally bending it, will reduce its life. It is estimated that a twist of just 7% made when installing a hose in a permanent application can reduce the hose life by 90%.

7) Age  Brew hoses are flexible components that will degrade over time. Shelf life and service life vary widely and depend on the hose’s composition, application, environment, storage and care. Older hoses can become discolored and stiff or burst even at low pressures and temperatures. Don’t risk your safety – or the safety of others – by using hoses and assemblies that are past their useful life.

6) Temperature exposure  Excessive hot or cold temperatures can lead to brew hose discoloration, cracking, hardness or failure. Most brew hoses are engineered and manufactured to endure temperature extremes. But if a hose accidentally gets used for the wrong brewing process, such as a cold process hose hooked up to a hot process, problems can arise. Remember, too, that as temperatures increase, pressure ratings decrease.

5) Contaminated media  Foreign particles or residue flowing through a liner can damage it or wear it out prematurely. Cross contamination is another risk – you don’t want the ingredients from one product mixing with another. Follow instructions for cleaning brew hoses to ensure there is no matter left from a previous use.

4) Liner or cover not compatible with fluids or environment  Incompatibility can result in discoloration, swelling, sponginess, or the breakdown of the hose’s construction. This is especially important when it comes to the liner of a brew hose, as liner breakdown can introduce impurities and lead to off taste.

3) External damage to the hose cover  Kinks, crushed sections, and cover damage that exposes reinforcement will eventually break down the layers and lead to hose failure. Some brew hose is designed to withstand incidents like being stepped on or occasionally being run over with a forklift, while others are not. The way hoses are stored – draped over hard piping and hanging down, laid flat on a shelf, etc. – can impact covers and hose integrity, too. Hoses should be inspected prior to each use and replaced when cover damage is discovered.

2) Swelling from excessive working pressure  This type of hose failure usually appears as a large bubble or burst area with torn reinforcement, typically along the outside of a bend. Brew hoses are engineered to withstand a range of pressure and vacuum but should not be used beyond their recommended limits. Some hose suppliers test samples to ensure that hoses meet or exceed specifications, but you may have to request this or perform your own testing. A hose containing too much pressure can be dangerous for those around it when it bursts, not to mention that your beer is all over the floor.

1) Misapplication  Perhaps the greatest cause of failure is using a brew hose in an application for which it is not designed. Hose specifications should be carefully examined, and application recommendations thoroughly considered, before the purchase of a hose for any purpose.

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