Hydraulic Fluid Contamination: Prevention & Resolution
Did you know that 70 to 80% of all hydraulic system failures are directly related to hydraulic fluid contamination?
Hydraulic fluid contamination can be caused by a variety of issues; all of which can not only contribute to poor performance, and unnecessary wear, but can also cost thousands of dollars in downtime if not addressed promptly. Let’s take a look at the common types of contamination and how to prevent each:
- Water in the hydraulic fluid is the most common type of contamination encountered. Water can behave in a variety of ways once in the hydraulic fluid; settling on the bottom or floating on the surface. Ultimately, water in hydraulic fluid leads to corrosion of the hydraulic system. Additives can also lead to contamination through the introduction of corrosive elements that might help in the short term, but can break down over time and become suspended in the hydraulic fluid. Always check your systems reservoir for water and bleed the water out when necessary.
- Contamination can also occur during initial assembly, or maintenance and repair, of a hydraulic system. Debris and contaminants can enter the hydraulic cylinder during normal system maintenance activities when the hydraulic cylinder is disassembled. Ensure when repairing a hydraulic cylinder that it is in a contaminate free environment.
- Wear can also lead to contamination. An improper seal or worn piston can introduce small contaminants. Particles as small as 2 microns can adversely affect pump life and overall system performance; clean hydraulic fluid is imperative to proper operation of your hydraulic cylinder.
Regular system maintenance and upkeep is the number one way to address contaminants in a system. Examining system components, flushing fluid on a regular basis, and proper maintenance and repair measures will not only extend the life of your hydraulic cylinder, but will reduce contaminants in your system. In addition, regular maintenance activities help identify issues as early as possible before they cost you valuable dollars in downtime.