When Should You Change Your Hydraulic Filters?

Change Hydraulic FiltersRoutine maintenance. It sounds boring and in fact, it isn’t exactly an earth-shattering event. Regardless of how much excitement it elicits, it is also a necessary evil when properly maintaining your hydraulic system.  With its main function to remove dirt and particles from the hydraulic components. Particle contamination can wreak havoc on your system, with the potential to cause malfunctioning parts, component failure, and downtime for your mobile equipment.

Hydraulic Filter Contamination Concerns

Keeping hydraulic cylinder fluids and reservoirs clean sounds like an easy task. After all, fluid cleanliness is a fundamental process for a high-performance hydraulic cylinder to remain functionally sound. However, if determining when you should change your hydraulic cylinder filters was that easy, everyone would change their filters without issue all the time.

One of the main issues with changing hydraulic filters is changing them too early or too late. If you change your filters too early, you could waste money on filter changes that occur when the dirt holding capacity of the filter is not completely full. If you change your filters too late, you can increase particle contamination and you can cause damage to components. Damage to the components can increase the likelihood of system failure and the need for hydraulic cylinder replacement or repair.

Hydraulic Filter Locations and their Effects on Performance

Ideally, hydraulic filters should be changed when the dirt holding capacity of the filter is around 80% full before the filter has gone on bypass. Three filter locations for optimal hydraulic performance include:

  • Off-line Filtration (also knowns as a Kidney Loop). Allows for continuous filtration. These filters offer flexibility in placement.
  • Pressure Filtration. Designed to withstand system pressure, filtering particle contamination from pressure lines can protect components downstream.
  • Return Filtration. Providing protection from contaminants when fluid returns to the tank, filtering the return line can be an economical way to maintain fluid cleanliness. Return filtration is the most commonly used method of filtration for hydraulic systems.

Hydraulic Filter Monitoring for Particle Contamination Clogs

Hydraulic filters clogged with particle contaminants can cause pressure drops and a damaged hydraulic system. Monitoring pressure drops then becomes increasingly important to the overall functionality of fluid cleanliness and hydraulic filters. Differential clogging indicators can provide continuous monitoring that enables you to be alerted to pressure drops that could serve as a warning for potential component issues or system failure.

More advanced monitoring options include continuous monitoring of the pressure drops across the filter. These visual or electronic monitoring systems can provide more accurate filtering information that can help you maintain your hydraulic cylinder filters and keep them operating at optimal capacity.

Preventative Maintenance Can Save You Time and Money

Rather than playing the game of too early or too late, implementing a maintenance schedule can help streamline your filter upkeep. With a maintenance schedule, you can monitor your filter capacity levels, knowing when they should be changed. This can allow for less downtime and gives you the ability to maintain an efficient, well-maintained hydraulic system.