Hydraulic Malfunction? Top 3 Issues That Stop Machines in Their Tracks

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Hydraulics power thousands of mechanisms across the world.

They lift, maneuver and shift weights that are otherwise impossible to move.

There’s a complex world inside of your hydraulic system that cannot be ignored, however. Breakdowns are common when the system isn’t checked on a regular basis.

Take a look at the top three issues that contribute to system breakdowns every day, and remember: preventive measures can put a stop to these problems.

Ignoring the reservoir

This common issue is typically the cause of countless breakdowns in hydraulic systems.

The reservoir holds hydraulic fluid where it can circulate as needed through hoses and pumps. Although hydraulics are closed systems, the reservoir has some extra space in order to hold the proper amount of fluid.

This design feature poses a problem, however. Open spaces give rise to air and moisture accumulation.

Regardless of the system’s configuration, air seeps into the reservoir at times. Moisture accompanies these molecules, which condenses at a certain point during the night.

Water and hydraulic fluid combined creates issues within the system, such as

  • Jerky operations
  • Imbalanced pressures
  • Wear on internal parts

Hydraulic operators must be diligent about checking for moisture before working with the machine each day. Condensation is notorious for occurring during the evening hours while the machine rests in place and outside temperatures drop.

Skipping new filters

Every hydraulic system is outfitted with at least one filter. These parts trap contaminants running through the fluid. Your team may be diligent about system maintenance, but particles will find their way into the fluid.

Experts suggest that the filter should be changed after 50 hours when the system is new.

This time frame may seem short, but a new system has a lot of settling to do. There will be particulates clogging the filter.

Operators often neglect their filters after this point, however. A machine that’s been “broken in” doesn’t require too much maintenance at first.

Don’t fall into this habit! Filters must be changed with regular frequency. The practice may take some time out of the workday, but it ultimately prevents downtime that’s otherwise unexpected.

Overlooking pressure verification

Hydraulic fluid is under constant pressure. It’s this pressure that creates the power to move heavy-duty items. Many characteristics contribute to a properly pressurized system, including:

  • Fluid’s viscosity
  • Fluid volume
  • Pump-and-hose configurations

If hydraulic operators overlook the fluid’s pressure checks, the system will eventually break down.

Improper pressure leads to overheated fluid. Because it can rise to more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit, the fluid creates volatile conditions for seals, rings and hoses. In fact, it’s not uncommon for hoses to fail in these cases.

Another concern with improperly pressurized fluid is viscosity breakdown. The fluid itself cannot take these temperatures or pressures.

At the molecular level, the fluid breaks down and loses its lubricating power. The system fails because it no longer has the friction-free operation that it demands from the fluid.

Implementing best practices

The simplest way to stay on top of your system’s maintenance is by creating a daily checklist. Sounds like another process to do, but it is worth the time (and can save you time on the back end).

Before the machine goes into operation, check the fluid for particles, air and moisture. Fluid levels might be topped off during this procedure too.

Many operators test a fluid sample so that it can be verified for a milky or foamy appearance. They also walk around the machine to look at all hoses and seals. Any worn or broken components can be replaced or adjusted at this point.

Operators use their power of observation to hone in on other issues.

Listening to the pumps, touching the machine’s housing and other scrutinies uncover problems before the machine starts its day. It’s always better to catch an issue before the machine warms up for its major operations. Part wear is controllable at that point.

Contact Motion & Flow Control Products, Inc.today. Ask our team about your hydraulics and possible solutions. Regardless of the issue, there’s always a repair that’s possible. Smooth operations will be the result of your efforts.