Because fluid in these hoses is under pressure, there must be a way to secure the hose ends to inlets or nipples. That’s where hose clamps come in. Hose clamps are pretty simple, and they really only come in two types. There’s the banded screw type, and the spring type.
Application of hose clamp
The banded screw type of hose clamp is used in a wide range of automotive settings, but you’ve probably seen them in use in other areas as well. They consist of a grooved band of metal with a screw and a catch. The end of the band slides through the catch, and the screw is turned to tighten the band and seal the hose.
A spring type hose clamp is a little different. They’re made of strong but flexible metal. There are two tabs built into them – one on each end of the circle. Squeezing them toward each other opens the clamp and allows you to install it on a hose (or remove it from a hose). When you release the pressure on the clamp, it springs closed and holds tight without any need for a screw or other type of catch.
Spring clamps are typically made from a strip of spring steel, cut so that one side has a narrow protrusion centered on the end, and the other side a pair of narrow protrusions on either side. The ends of these protrusions are then bent outwards, and the strip rolled to form a ring, with the protruding tabs inter-meshing. To use the clamp, the exposed tabs are pressed towards each other (typically using pliers), increasing the diameter of the ring, and the clamp is slid onto the hose, past the portion that will go onto the barb. The hose is then fit onto the barb, the clamp expanded again, slid onto the portion of the hose over the barb, then released, compressing the hose onto the barb. Clamps of this design are rarely used for high pressures or large hoses, as they would require unwieldy amounts of steel to generate enough clamping force, and be impossible to work with using just hand tools. They are commonly used on automotive cooling system hoses several inches in diameter, for example on most water-cooled Volkswagen automobiles.
Spring clamps are particularly suited for confined or otherwise awkward places where other clip types would require tightening tools applied from narrow and possibly inaccessible angles. This has made them particularly popular for applications such as automotive engine bays and for securing barb connections in PC water-cooling.
Precautions on hose clamp
A simple spring clamp, used on an automotive vacuum hose. Another type of spring clamp, typically only used on vacuum hoses, is just a piece of spring steel wire bent into a loop, with the ends curled to provide handles. These are used similar to standard spring clamps, but are just pinched by hand, and provide very little clamping force. Rather than attempting to seal a hose into a barb, they just place a slight pressure on the hose, helping to keep it from sliding off the barb.
Both spring style and screw style hose clamps are used in automotive situations. They can be used to secure radiator hoses, power steering hoses, brake lines and more. However, caution should be used to ensure that screw style clamps are not overtightened, as this can damage the hose and lead to a leak.