Picking the right air hose to fit your machine and needs is essential. There are a wide variety of different air hoses with different connections, widths, materials, and purposes. Air hoses are used on many different machines, such as air compressors, pressure washers, nail guns, sprayers, or even for pumping fluids such as oil or sewage water.
Sizing Your Air Hose
The width of your air hose will essentially determine the maximum amount of air it can carry. You should know that hose size is measured by inner diameter, so a 3/4” air hose has a hole in the center that measures 3/4”. Different materials and purposes of air hoses will make the wall thickness vary, thus the outer diameter for one 3/4” hose might be different for another 3/4” hose. Of course a wide outer diameter for your air hose usually allows for more mass and integrates reinforcement for greater burst strength.
Making it Fit
Typically, your air hose will come with the fittings on both ends of the hose, but if not, having knowledge on air hose sizes will be key to selecting the right size fittings. After you’ve obtained your fittings, you need to first add a connector to the thread on one end, then a coupler to the thread on the other end.
Air hoses are made from different materials such as rubber, PVC, nylon, and polyurethane:
Rubber hoses are the traditional choice and also most common. Rubber air hoses lie flat without kinking, and are easy to coil for storage. They are also very flexible, and moderately withstand freezing temperatures. However, there is one drawback: rubber air hoses are the heaviest and can be a setback for some projects such as roofing or painting in high places.
PVC (pliovic) air hoses are great if you are on a budget. They do coil and kink, but not as much as nylon or polyurethane. They do not perform cold weather very well, but they are inexpensive and light, therefore useful for quick, smaller projects.
Nylon hoses kinks very easily, and while it isn’t very durable, it can be coiled like a spring! It is also the lightest material for air hoses! Nylon air hoses are commonly used in factories and assembly lines, usually suspended from ceiling for a weightless feel to the tool.
Polyurethane hoses have been engineered to offer superior cold weather performance and are much lighter than rubber. However, PU air hoses have a tendency to kink and coil easily, sometimes sticking to itself. These air hoses should also be kept away from oil-based paint thinners, and certain solvents, which will dissolve the material.
When looking for an air hose, don’t forget to get the right size (inner diameter!) and the thickness of the hose depending on the rigor of the job. And be sure to select the proper fittings that will attach to your hose and tools. With your newfound knowledge on the pros and cons of different materials used for air hoses, you are sure to choose the optimal one to ensure your project goes smoothly.
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