Changing the Tubing in Your Hearing Aids
by Curtis Dickerson
Editor: Changing your own tubing can be quick and easy,
and a great way to save money if you're currently paying for this
service. Here's Curtis on how to do it!
It's easier to do than you realize, you don't need to make an
appointment and it's inexpensive. Consumers who want to change the
tubing in their hearing aids often don't know what size tubing is
needed, and that is the important first step. Short of using a
micrometer, the person who may be able to tell you the tubing size you
need is the hearing health professional that made the impression for
your hearing aid mold.
Another possibility is to contact the manufacturer that made the
earmold. The hearing health professional that takes the impression sends
that out to another facility where it is made into the earmold that is
fitted to our hearing aids. The earmold is returned to the facility with
the tubing already in place. There may be a record at that facility of
your tubing size information. If neither tells you the size it could be
that they don't know or may want to discourage you from taking matters
into your own hands.
Now that you have decided to do your own tube change, we have the
information to help you choose the proper tubing size and what tools, if
necessary, to help you do the job. Our research information is from
advice given by several earmold manufacturers and Volta Voice Nov/Dec
1999, and others. We have changed hearing aid tubing with great success
and know that you can too! It is nice to do this quick tube change
yourself, allowing you to start the day with clear, flexible tubing on
your hearing aids.
To replace the tubing doesn't require any special knowledge. You need
to have a desire to learn and to be comfortable using small tools:
perfect if you are a do-it-yourself type of person with an interest in
acquiring a new skill. You may find that specialized tools or cement are
NOT a major requirement for this task. Read on to learn about the
various tube sizes that are available. Don't let the list discourage
you. For the most part the majority of these tubing sizes are not
necessary. They are listed to better educate you before asking questions
about your hearing aid tubing size.
More on this and related
Hard (Lucite) earmolds: Straight Tubing or Preformed tubing. Earmold
bore reamer, tubing inserter tool, and cement
Optional: tube-lock removal/inserter tool
Soft (silicone) or semi-soft (vinyl) earmolds: Straight tubing with
or without tube lock, or preformed tubing with or without tube lock,
earmold bore reamer, tubing inserter tool.
Optional: tube-lock removal/inserter tool.
Tubing Diameter Sizes:
#12 Standard (.085 x .125): most often used for children (smaller
#13 Standard (.076 x .116): generally used
#13 Medium (.076 x .122): more often used
#13 Thick (.076 x .130): most often used
#13 Extra Thick (.076 x .142): used with aids for severe to profound
#14 Standard (.066 x.166): rarely used; not always in stock
# 15 Standard (.059 x .116): rarely used; not always in stock
# 16 Thin (.053 x .085): rarely used; not always in stock
In most cases the tubing does nothing more than connect the earmold
to the hearing aid. This means when you are done replacing the tubing,
the aid fits comfortably, doesn't move around, or dangle from your ear:
you are successful! One exception to the purpose of the tubing is the
LIBBY Horn, which is a smooth tapered one-piece sound tube of internal
stepped bore construction. Appropriate dampers used with this tubing can
result in a smooth wideband frequency response. If you have LIBBY Horn
style tubing, stay with this type.
To start, if you are an adult, you will need #13 extra thick, # 13
Thick or # 13 Medium size diameter tubing to replace the old tubing.
These three sizes prevent crimping, stretching and most importantly:
sound feedback from the aids. Thicker tubing contains sound better and
reduces feedback commonly caused by powerful hearing aids. You also need
to know what your earmold is fabricated from. If it is soft silicone, or
soft vinyl material you may need to use a ring (or lock) with the
tubing, often called TUBE-LOCK or RING-LOCK. This lock keeps the tubing
in place. Without it the hearing aid could detach itself from the
earmold particularly if you lead an active lifestyle.
If you have Lucite (hard) earmolds, you would use cement for ease of
tube insertion. Cement also acts as a fastener to keep the tube in
place. Cement does not dry as quickly as Super Glue thus it gives you
lubricant/holding quality while placing the tubing.
If your hard earmolds have had the tubing replaced frequently, you
may see that the bore has been gouged out. Also, if the tubing goes in
without any resistance at all, a filler-type cement may have to be used.
If you notice any of these things, perhaps it is time to consider having
new earmolds made up.
Your hearing loss: if it is moderate to profound, use the #13 Extra
Thick tubing to aid in feedback reduction. This tubing can be a bit
difficult to push onto the plastic curve shaped connector that is
attached to the hearing aid. A stretching tool (Tube Expander) or a
solvent (Expando) can help overcome this. The stretching tool looks
like needle-nosed pliers. Its points are inserted in to the opening of
the tube to stretch open the tube. The EXPANDO solvent is a liquid that,
when applied on the end of the tube, softens it to allow you to more
easily push the tube onto the hearing aid connector. Both the expander
and solvent can be found online at WWW.Hearing-Loss-Help-Co.com
Another type of tubing that is available is called Stay-Dry; as its
name implies it helps reduce moisture build-up problems in the tubing
and ultimately, your hearing aid. This is available in #13 sizes, it is
more expensive but offers more benefit. This does not absolve you of
using dry aids kits for your hearing aids each night.
A bit more on the function of the Ring Lock (Tube Lock). This is a
plastic ring that works as a lock to attach tubing to the hearing aid
mold. (Generally the latest design means no more tools necessary.) The
ring has a couple of ridges on its outside diameter. The tubing is
pushed through the ring, and then the tubing is pushed into the earmold
until the ring is touching the mold. Another push and it is latched onto
the earmold. The ridges on the outside of the ring bites into the
earmold, holding the tubing in place.
If you decide to use the tube lock, you can purchase the tubing and
rings separately for self-assembly, but it is easier to purchase the
tubing with the lock in place. The old style Metal ring locks require a
Tube-Lock tool, which is used to push the old ring out and push the new
ring into position in the earmold. You can purchase this tool or you can
get creative and try to devise one from what you might already have at
home! Perhaps use a knitting needle or miniature screwdriver. But
nothing with sharp edges. The tube-lock removal tool has blunt edges.
HINT: If the tube lock is secured deep within the earmold, looks brassy
in color it most likely is the old metal type.
The newer rings are made of plastic and are not as secure as metal
rings. However, the plastic rings do not require a special tool, they
are much easier to remove and insert. As long as you don't pull directly
on the tubing it will never come out by itself. These plastic rings are
the preferred way to go because we can do this job without the tube-lock
tool. Once you have purchased a tubing replacement kit, for future tube
replacement all you need to do is buy tubing with tube lock rings. You
may get this at www.hearing-loss-help.co.com. Not to mention that you
can probably get four tubing replacements done for the price that might
be charged for one tube change by hearing aid professionals.
Are you ready to replace your tubing? Here are the simple steps
needed to complete this successfully.
(1) Remove the old tubing.
(2) Clean the bore of any old glue and debris using the reaming tool.
(3) Cut a length of tubing a wee bit longer than what was removed. (If
you bought tubing with tube lock installed, the tubing is already
pre-formed and cut).
(4) Insert one end into the earmold and push it through until it pokes
through the ear canal end of the mold. (This is where the Tubing
Inserter tool comes in real handy) Pull back on the tube until it is
recessed inside the earmold. (If you are using the pre-formed tubing
just pull the tubing through until the tube lock connects with the
earmold and then trim it up against the mold. Don't leave any sticking
out or it will irritate your ear.)
(5) Push the other end of the tubing onto the earhook. (Plastic
half-moon shape extending from the hearing aid)
(6) Now place your aid into your ear, insert the earmold while you look
into a mirror for proper adjustment and tube angle. Be sure it is not
crimping. Your aid should rest on your ear comfortably without any
tension. If necessary, remove for trimming and adjust it again after
The Hearing Loss Help Co has put together a Tubing kit for your
I am hoping that you will become a more informed and confident
hearing aid consumer after reading the information presented in this
article. Remember: knowledge is power.
Hearing Loss Help Co