021517 Hydraulic Components2

Take These Steps to Avoid Hydraulic Component Failure

Posted by on 15 February 2017

Contaminated fluid causes 80% of hydraulic system faults. Obviously, then, it is essential to protect your equipment (and your wallet) from this common problem. What can you do?

Understand the causes of hydraulic fluid contamination

Hydraulic ComponentFluid can become contaminated by air, water or solid particles. When this happens, moving parts tend to stick and they wear prematurely. Several things can cause air or water contamination:

  • The suction pipe leaks, causing inadequate suction
  • The system hasn’t been bled properly
  • Poor valve or reservoir design
  • Insufficient oil level in the reservoir

Solid metallic or non-metallic particles can also sneak into the system. These could be anything from sand and soil to soot, ash, dust or grinding particles. Even tiny, cast off threads from cleaning cloths can cause problems.

Know – and watch for – the symptoms

If your system is suffering from air or water contamination, you may see any of these symptoms:

  • Noisy operation or sluggish response
  • Cloudy oil
  • Erosion of pump components – or even complete pump failure
  • Damage to cylinder seals, the suction hose or pump and valve components

If your problem is contamination from solid particles, you may see symptoms such as:

  • Excessive component wear and tear
  • Internal leaking
  • Blocked valves
  • Increased oil aging or presence of sludge in the oil
  • Control inaccuracies
  • Complete pump failure
  • Sudden engine breakdown

Take steps to reduce your risk

Adhering to your truck’s recommended preventive maintenance schedule is the most important – and easiest – thing you can do to prevent hydraulic fluid contamination. Neglect even a tiny leak, and it will eventually cost you dearly. If you lose one drop per second, you will lose 4 ml per minute. By the end of the day, you will have lost 5.5 liters of hydraulic fluid. After an entire month, that adds up to 154 liters of fluid.

Hydraulic ComponentBut proper regular maintenance is just the beginning. You can do more. Protect your ports and fittings, by:

  • Leaving port plugs on components and hoses until you’re ready to use them
  • Remove port plugs carefully – otherwise, the plastic can shear off into the threads
  • Check for dents and contamination around porting – and make sure fittings to be installed are clean, too
  • Regularly service fluid
  • Regularly clean tanks and your reservoir

Protect your components, by:

  • Drying them off before use, if they have been stored where it’s cold – condensation is likely to occur as they warm up
  • Keep hoses capped until you’re ready to install them
  • Handle exposed cylinder rods gently to avoid scratching or denting them
  • shield splines from dents and chips

Protect your hydraulic fluid itself, by:

  • Keeping it free of contaminants
  • Keeping all surfaces that could come into contact with the fluid clean and dry
  • Observing proper storage protocol to prevent water from collecting on the top and seeping in through the plug – choose a cool, dry space without sudden temperatures, and store the drum on its side
  • Keeping the drums full to reduce the risk of condensation build-up
  • Cleaning nozzles and caps before filling, and securing caps snugly after use

Just because contamination causes 80% of hydraulic system breakdowns doesn’t mean you have to be part of that statistic. Following these steps will help you keep your fluid – and your equipment – in tip-top shape.

Hydraulic Repair