Layflat hoses and how to maintain them
Layflat fire hoses are an important piece of equipment and proper maintenance of them is essential to preserve and prolong their life. They do have a limited period of time in which they are fully functioning, but with the proper care and attention they can be used for as long as possible, safely and effectively.
Regular inspection, testing and proper cleaning is required to ensure the hose is still in full working order. If there any defects to the hose not only will this impair its ability to perform properly but it also poses a danger to those using it. Considering the safety of whoever may be operating the hose is of paramount importance. One of the main things to bear in mind when considering how to properly maintain your hose is that the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations should always be followed properly. Failure to do this can result in the hose failing to perform properly if it is not being adequately maintained and stored and whilst the general rules for hose maintenance are largely the same, different products and manufacturers may have slightly different care instructions.
There are several aspects of general maintenance that can be applied to most types of hose. For example, you should always ensure the hose is not being subjected to heavy end loads that it is unsuitable for. You should also make sure the hose is not being forced to work over its working pressure and all pressure changes should be made at a gradual pace so as not to damage the hose. Regular pressure testing should be conducted to ensure the hose is still in full working order and able to perform to its maximum ability – if there are any indicators this is not the case then you should cease using the hose immediately.
Regular inspections are an important part of your hose maintenance and should be performed regularly with a thorough record of all results kept. A visual inspection is the easiest to perform to determine if the hose has been bent out of shape at all or if there is any visible damage such as tears. You should also closely examine all fittings to ensure there are no gaps or loose sections. A hydrostatic test should also be regularly performed to check the hose is still working correctly. To do this you may apply 150% of the recommended pressure for a minute, checking to see if the hose looks out of shape whilst you do this. Anyone performing this test should be adequately trained to use the equipment safely.
As the name suggest, a key feature of the layflat hose and one of its many benefits is that it can be laid completely flat for storage. This means it can be stored almost anywhere, and in much smaller spaces than a non-flexible hose. However, it’s still important to make sure your storage space is fit for purpose. If being put away for prolonged periods of time, for example, you should ensure that the storage area is cool, dark and completely free from damp. The hose should also be covered to protect it, particularly if there is a window or anywhere that the hose can be exposed to direct sunlight. If the hose already comes stowed on a wheel then it should be kept on this as per the manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid creating any kinks and keep it as close to the original condition it came in as possible. Make sure that the hose is not obstructed in any way when winding it in and out of the wheel and check all fixtures and fittings have been removed, where necessary, before winding it back in for storage. You should also ensure that all water is removed from the hose before winding it back in. Special storage cabinets can be purchased which can be used both indoors and outdoors to keep your layflat hose protected from the elements. These also allow easy access as they can be placed in the area you are most likely to use the hose.
Following these simple rules can help to maintain your layflat hose and prolong its life, although it’s also important to remember that it will not last forever. No matter how well you take care of it, it is only intended to be used for a finite amount of time and replacing your layflat hose at regular intervals is as important as taking good care of it initially. How often you will need to replace the hose will depend to some extent on how often you are using it though. If in frequent use, but being well-maintained, a good layflat hose can last for 10 years or perhaps longer. During this period it is important to conduct the regular maintenance checks described above to confirm it is still in full working order – if anything is wrong with the hose then this should be fixed immediately, or the hose replaced if this is not possible. If it is still in full working order then you should continue to take care of the hose and check it regularly. Incorrect storage or care of the hose could result in it lasting a much shorter period.