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The Importance of Proper Hydraulic Oil Maintenance and Replacement

The hydraulic oil in a system does much more than provide lubrication. It also provides early warning signs of mechanical problems that can lead to costly downtime.

Equipment manufacturer guidelines will recommend an ideal frequency for changing the oil. However, different maintenance styles can produce very different outcomes.

Damage to Hydraulic Cylinders

Hydraulic cylinders are the muscle power behind various industrial equipment and applications. However, like any muscle, they require proper care and maintenance to perform as specified for their application. If they are not properly maintained, they will quickly suffer damage from numerous sources that can lead to costly repairs or even complete failure.

One of the most common reasons for hydraulic cylinder failure is due to damaged seals that result in fluid leakage. This is particularly common if the seals are exposed to excessive wear and tear, hot temperatures or improper installation.

Leaking hydraulic fluid also contaminates the fluid, which can cause additional issues for your cylinders. The presence of foreign particulates can scratch and score the inside of the cylinder, and liquid contaminates can eat away at critical components.

Other signs of a potential problem with your hydraulic cylinder include jerky or uneven movement when it is operated and high heat during operation. Fluid contamination and the incorrect use of filters can also contribute to cylinder failure.

Reduced Performance

The primary purpose of lubrication is to reduce component wear rates, which means that keeping your hydraulic system clean will increase component service life. This is a significant factor in reducing operational costs.

Hydraulic systems are prone to contamination from dirt, paint, grime, metal particles, water, cutting fluids, and other contaminants that can drastically decrease the lifespan of the hydraulic system. The best way to ensure your system will function optimally is to regularly inspect and clean the filters, reservoirs, and other components.

In addition, adding additives will help the hydraulic oil Charlotte NC, to maintain its properties over a wide temperature range. These additives are essential to the lubrication and protection of the hydraulic system. To get the most out of your hydraulic system, you should regularly monitor and test the hydraulic oil for contaminants using a particle counter and visual inspection. Lastly, it is important always to bleed the system when refilling to remove trapped air that can cause cavitation and reduced efficiency.

Damage to Hydraulic Components

All mechanical equipment degrades and fails over time, but inadequate maintenance often accelerates the rate at which hydraulic components fail. Poorly lubricated members cause friction, overheating, and wear and tear, which damage other parts.

Hydraulic equipment also relies on a heat exchanger to dissipate heat, so keeping fluid levels within the recommended range is essential. Incorrect fluid temperature can lead to many problems, such as a reduction in the hydraulic oil’s ability to dissolve additives, increased water contamination, and oxidation, which accelerates metal surface wear.

The best way to prevent these issues is by regularly monitoring the hydraulic oil. This includes visual inspection, oil analysis testing, and particle counting. Following the manufacturer’s specific guidelines when changing and filling the hydraulic system with oil is important.

Reduced Lifespan

The hydraulic oil is a vital component that must be kept clean to keep the machinery working properly. A planned maintenance strategy must be implemented to avoid equipment failure and downtime.

Many people treat industrial hydraulic system oils the same as their auto engines, assuming that if the hydraulic oil turns from that golden honey color to a dark brown, it needs to be changed immediately. The truth is that there are often still years of service life left in the hydraulic fluid.

The best way to determine whether or not the hydraulic oil needs replacement is to perform regular sampling. Samples should be tested for oxidation, additive depletion, and moisture contamination. By comparing the results with equipment manufacturer guidelines, it is possible to get an accurate idea of the ideal time to change hydraulic oil. Once the hydraulic fluid has been replaced, it is important to document that change in a maintenance log.


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Henry Doe is a seasoned DIY enthusiast and home improvement, blogger. With over 10 years of experience in renovating his own home, he has honed his skills in carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work. Henry's passion for creating beautiful and functional living spaces has led him to share his knowledge and experiences with his readers through his blog, "Home Sweet Home DIY." His goal is to inspire and empower homeowners to tackle their own home projects, big or small. When he's not hammering and sawing, you can find Henry hiking in the mountains or sipping on a latte at his local coffee shop.