Hands-On Jetter Hose Maintenance

This old-school approach to proper hose maintenance, care and repair with save you money and could save your life.

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Rick Lewis has noticed some trends in the wastewater industry that have led to a decline in production, safety and the bottom line, and he's here to help. 

Lewis is a former Marine who cut his teeth in the industry in the early '90s as a manufacturer representative, "selling everything from combination trucks, down to the fittings." Now, with over 20 years of experience, he spends his time consulting with private contractors and municipalities, specializing in wastewater collections equipment and its use in day-to-day operations.

As a guest presenter at WWETT 2016, Lewis will provide an in-depth understanding of jetter hoses in his educational session, Hands-On Jetter Hose Maintenance — Care and Repair, from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Feb. 18.

It will help you save you money and could possibly even save your life.

Who should attend this session and what can one expect to learn?

Well, literally, anybody who runs a high-pressure combination truck or jetting truck. Anybody who’s standing in front of a hose reel needs to attend this class.

The No. 1 accident that occurs in our industry is usually hose-related. Either the hose lets go of the fitting, has a burst, it gets sliced down in the hole and it comes and there’s 2,500 psi of a stream going all over the place.

The thing that’s kind of happened in the industry, there used to be a lot of pride in the operator before articulating reels, before extending reels, before hose tensioners and automatic level winds, where it was pride. Where you would just take the handle and move the reel back and forth and you would lay that hose on the reel … it was like art. And you took pride in teaching the new guys how to do it.

This sounds like it will be a pretty hands-on session. Can you explain?

Today, the reels articulate, the reels extend. You push buttons now, and you stand there with a cup of coffee in your hand and watch the traffic go by and maybe look down at the hose, because there’s the tensioner keeping the tension on it, and nobody’s really looking at the hose — something that they stand in front of that has 2,500 psi of pressure on it.

Those who operate the hose need to understand that those are great tools, but at the same time, those tools can also cause problems with the hose … I’ll have some examples of crushed hose that happens inside the bottom of the loop.

And the other thing that we’re going to do, because this is a hands-on session, we’re actually going to have four hydraulic swaging machines set up on the stage. And we’re going to pass out tickets, like at a raffle, as you come in the door. And once the initial part of the class is over, we’re going to draw numbers out of the jar, and if you’re number is picked you’re going to be able to come up on the stage and actually do a hose repair. All the manufacturers are going to bring in pieces of hose, and you’re going to be able to cut a piece, do a mender, and actually get hands-on.

I know for a lot of people they never get to do that, because the city’s policy is, if you get a nick in the hose, throw the whole hose away and put another hose on there. Well, that’s over $2,000 you just threw away, and you didn’t need to.

I think by raising the awareness of care of the hose — how to watch the hose, how to mend it — can help cities and contractors save money. But the ultimate thing here is to make it safer for the worker.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see people making out in the field?

We started off in this industry with trucks that put out like 1,000 psi. Then it jumped up; all of a sudden we were at 1,500 or 2,000. Now, everyone’s got to have these 2,500 psi trucks.

One of the things that we run on the very front end of the hose is called a leader hose. And a leader hose is black. It consists of rubber and a wire braid and more rubber inside it. The whole idea is that it has an easier bend radius than the stiffer sewer hose. The problem is, a lot of people haven’t paid attention to the working pressure of the leader hose, so they’re still running the low-pressure leader hose when they’ve got high pressure on their sewer hose and their pump. They now need to be aware that they have to run a 3,000 psi leader hose to match their sewer hose.

I have found a lot of operators out there that are running the wrong leader hose. It’s going to go down the bends and the curves and offsets of the sewer line. At the same time, when you’re an operator, you’re watching for that hose to turn from orange to the black leader hose as a warning when to shutdown the sewer hose and turn off the pressure. It’s usually right there that they put themselves in a very vulnerable spot to have a hose burst, because they don’t have the right pressure leader hose on. So that’s something we want to make people aware of, so they can go back and check to make sure they are running the right leader hose.

I think the biggest thing is that it used to be you had the old guy that ran the truck, and he was very good at teaching the new guy. It seems we’ve fallen into this rut, where we just push buttons and we don’t put hands on things anymore. And I think it’s made a big difference on how the proper maintenance — not just of the hose but the whole truck … filtration system, everything — is handled.

How much can you — or should you — rely on the manufacturer’s advice regarding proper care and maintenance?

You know what’s very interesting? Every single roll of hose is shipped with, at the very end of the hose or wrapped in the hose, full instructions and a warning. Any manufacturer that produces a product is going to say, “Hey, these are things you need to pay attention to,” and yet it’s totally ignored.

Piranha puts an entire list on there of everything that you’re supposed to do and inspect on the hose. In fact, I’ll put the slide up and I’ll ask, “How many of you have seen this?” Every time you unwrap a roll of hose this is right on top, and how many have actually taken the time to read it? I’ll have people come up to me and say, “You know, I’ve seen that, but I’ve never looked at it.” I’m looking at it right now, and it shows a piece of ruptured hose, and it has six steps to follow to maintain and repair your hose. And yet nobody looks at it. I call it the “American Way.” When all else fails, read directions.

The WWETT Show provides industry-related educational sessions among a variety of water and wastewater topics. More than 100 sessions span three days and are included with a full registration pass.

Sessions are led by the industry's top experts and professionals from leading associations and manufacturers. Many sessions count toward fulfilling required CEUs and professional development hours (PDHs).


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