The facts about Hydraulic Fluid and Hydraulic System Failure Print


Hydraulic component failure is a problem than equates to thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars of loss every year in Australia. It is a problem that can be an operator’s worst nightmare when it strikes. Faulty machines and components can of course, result in downtime and affect operations. Subsequent frequent replacement of faulty parts and purchasing new ones can also seriously hurt the bottom-line.

As an owner or operator, you need to look after the machines you use, making sure they are always in excellent condition to function at maximum capacity. It is handy to be aware of the damaging factors that can cause serious problems over time.

A lot of the common problems that lead to Hydraulic System failure can often stem from contamination of hydraulic fluid, such as oil, which is essentially the lifeblood of a hydraulic system. Below are key considerations and issues you need to be aware of before they turn into serious operational issues.

Heat & Aeration Issues

Oil has lubricating properties and cooling properties within a hydraulic system. As air is lighter then oil, air pockets are usually found in the highest points within the circuits. If an air pocket makes its way within the component, the component will no longer have the necessary lubricating and cooling properties.

A lack of lubrication will cause friction, therefore the system will need to work overtime for it to function properly. Where there is friction there is also more heat being generated. Without oil present to take the heat away, the component is will begin to expand which may cause a failure within the circuit.

Common methods air enters the hydraulic system are:

  • Return lines falling from the top of the tank to the oil. This can be overcome by a drop tube which allows the oil within the circuit to enter under the oil within the tank.
  • Insufficient oil in the tank. If a pump within the tank is sucking above the oil level when all of the oil is in the circuit, this will caveat the pump. A solution is to place a level switch on the tank to turn off the electric motor that is driving the pump until more oil is added.
  • Leaking fittings or components. If oil is leaking out of the circuit, it is likely air and dirt are getting in.
  • Fluid pressure can also increase if any resistance is met. If the pressure becomes too high, the pressure reducing value can be used to relieve it.

Refer to MP Filtri range for more product information and pricing

Dirty Oil

Oil is to a hydraulic system as blood is to the human body. Fluid contamination must be avoided as this is known to cause machine failures. Dirt may seem like a small thing, but it can cause real damage. In fact, dirt that is too small to be seen by the naked eye can do more damage than the bigger bits. In order for the machine to run smoothly, operators should use quality and clean hydraulic fluid that is pumped through a filter.

Some types of contaminates to be aware of:

  • Water: Water does not carry the same lubricating properties of oil. Water can also work against the compounds of the components for example water working on steel can cause rust. It is ideal to regularly change oil and fix leaks where water may be entering. 
  • Contaminated particles: Contaminated particles can enter the system through the top of the tank, leaks or as the result of poor workmanship.

In order for a hydraulic system to perform it needs to be in pristine condition, including the oil. This is when filtration becomes important. It may cost extra to purchase filter elements more regularly however having clean oil will help prevent system failures. Refer to our MP Filtri filter range for more product information and pricing.

Oil Leakage

Leakages are inevitable within hydraulic systems over time for a number of reasons such as component life, damaged seals, burst pipes, incorrectly adjusted relief valves, vibration, heat or contamination.

Not only will a leakage result in a loss of oil, it will also create entry points for contaminates. It is important to fix the issue early before it becomes a large costly problem.

Major failures can be prevented by regularly servicing the hydraulic system and taking oil samples to get insight into what is happening inside the circuit. MP Filtri particle counters and analysers can assist in this servicing to avoid potential downtime as a result of system failure.

When it comes to quality hydraulic parts, The Hydraulic Warehouse has everything you need. From ball valves to gear pumps to hydraulic motors, we have it all. We carry over 16,000 hydraulic components from different leading brands. Feel free to check out our product line today.