What Kind of Air Hose

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When you buy your air compressor, it comes with an air hose of some sort, usually. But, what kind of air hose did it come with, and, for that matter, what type of air hose do you want for your air compressor?

The answer depends on your tolerance for air hose problems, what type of work you plan on doing with your air compressor and the air hose, and as always, your wallet. Is change in your compressor air hose worth it for you?

If your air compressor is typical, then it will have come with a 25′ or 50′ air hose. And also typically, the air hose that arrives with the lower cost, what I term as DIY type air compressors, will be made of some sort of PVC composite.

What is wrong with PVC composite hose?

There could be more than a few problems with the PVC composite air hose that came with your air compressor.

Typical PVC compressed air hose

Is the Coupler and Connector secure?

First of all, as soon as you get your compressor home, check how the connector and the coupler are installed in the ends of the air hose. Are they inserted with a quick clamp band holding them in? Whoops. Watch it!

Shortly after I got my new compressor home, plugged the connector into the discharge coupler on the compressor, and the coupler on the other end of the air hose into the connector on the air tool, the coupler blew off out of the hose.

How to reinforce the coupler and connector

Since few of us have the correct tool in our workshops to re-clamp the band that is on the hose now, if you have concerns about the coupler or connector coming out, It would be beneficial if you purchased a couple of low cost gear clamps and installed them around where the hose covers the barb on the coupler and the connector – one at each end of the hose. Tightening the gear clamp on with a small wrench will snug it up good and tight, and help ensure the connector and coupler stay inside the hose.

And yes, the gear clamps have sharp edges. I simply used a few turns of plumbers PVC tape to coat the clamp completely, and make the surface smooth so I didn’t scrape myself on the edge of the clamp. Works for me, anyhow.

Are cheap air hoses small?

Not necessarily. It is just that the typical PVC air hose that comes with a DIY compressor will be either 1/4″ or 3/8″. That dimension refers to the inside hole in the hose.

A 1/4″ hose is OK when using the air hose and an air gun to blow off debris from a workstation. It may not deliver enough air for a higher demand air tool.

It wasn’t long before I changed out my small PVC hose to a 1/2″ rubber hose, to allow more pre-compressed air to be available in the hose and to run my air tools.

PVC type air hoses are brittle

I don’t know about you, but I’m not blessed with living in a part of the country where it doesn’t get cold. It gets cold here, really cold.

With your PVC hose wrapped neatly around the handle of your air compressor out in your garage, go ahead on a cold winter’s day, try to unwind it! The hose may not break, but it will end up like a birds nest on the workshop floor since the PVC has taken a real set with the cold, and it will be a witch to try and unwind it and use it.

PVC and abrasion resistance

By the nature of how they are used, your compressor air hose will be subject to abuse. It will lie on the floor, be stepped on, be driven over, will be dragged through all manner of debris on the floor and on the work bench.

I know, I know, they are made for that, right? For me it is pretty hard to believe that an air hose that is sold for $15.95 after going through umpteen layers of distribution can be made of good, abrasion resistant quality. In my mind, PVC hose will not deliver on abrasion resistance as other types of hose do.

Rubber compressed air hose

Rubber air hose is best!

For my money, the sooner you can zip down to your local compressor parts store and purchase a good quality, rubber based, 1/2″ air hose for your compressor, the happier you will be in your compressor use.

The larger hose will deliver more air to your air tool faster. Being good quality rubber means it will still be flexible in cold weather. It will be built to withstand much abuse, both in terms of what you drag it through (maybe even oil and gasoline) and drag it over.

Been there and done that. No more PVC hose for me, no matter how cheap it is.

Comments and questions about what kind of air hose to use are welcome, by using the comment box below.

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By Ashley Pearce

As a passionate manufacturing and mechanical engineer, I've had my fair share of run ins with air compressors and compressed air systems. With over a decade of experience in the industry, I have both a fresh perspective and time-served hands and mind to help you with your compressor problems (along with our able community!)

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Sheree howley
Sheree howley
September 17, 2016 8:17 am

There is a yellow, red and blue air compressor hoses. What are the different colours for??

Fix My Compressor Moderator
Fix My Compressor Moderator
Reply to  Sheree howley
September 17, 2016 9:13 am

First off, be sure that these various coloured hoses are all connected to the air compressor, and not some either kind of tank. Welding tanks, for example, have multi-colored hoses to differentiate between fuel and oxygen. When it comes to air hoses from the compressor, you can pretty much buy any color you want. A quick google search for air hose will return suppliers with black hose, red hose and blue hose. As long as the hose you have is connected to the compressor discharge, only compressed air will flow. So, at this point, the color of hose you use is entirely your choice. In industry air mains for compressed air are often painted blue or have a blue sticker to identify them as carrying compressed air. Hope this helps.