Hydraulic systems are used in everyday life, even if you don’t realize it. However, there can be different reasons why a system fails and things that can be done to repair it. Hydraulic systems are seen in vehicles, forklifts, construction equipment, NASA equipment, and more.
How Does a Hydraulic System Work?
A hydraulic system works by using pressurized fluid in order to power an engine. The presses put pressure on small amounts of fluid that generate a large amount of power. For example, water can be contained in a system that has pressure on it from one side. The pressure then forces it against the piston on the other side. This will transfer the energy into the piston, which is then forced upward to lift something. The pressure that is on the water will not let it flow backwards so the piston isn’t able to move in the opposite direction unless released. Whatever the system is lifting will stay that way until the operator allows it to be released.
Many people assume that hydraulic systems just use water but there are other fluids that can also work better. Water-based fluids are an option if you are looking for fire resistance, but they do have to be watched since they don’t provide as much lubrication as other different types of fluids. They can also evaporate at higher levels. Petroleum-based fluids are some of the most popular today since they can be customized by incorporating different additives. This means the fluids can be changed to include rust protection, anti wear agents, extreme pressure agents, and anti corrosion agents. These fluids are usually inexpensive too. Synthetic fluids may be more useful in certain settings, such as high pressure and high temperature settings. They can help lubricate the system and be fire resistant but these are usually more expensive than other options.
How Does a Hydraulic System Fail?
A hydraulic system, no matter the size and shape, can fail. It’s not very often but one of the main reasons these failures happen is because the systems aren’t checked. Many failures can be prevented with the right checks and care.
System issues can be inevitable at some point but there are also a number of steps you can take to increase the longevity of the system and avoid some of these issues. It’s usually easy to see when a system has failed. Some of the problems you will find when your system fails include low-pressure readings, high temperatures, and erratic and slow operation. Finding out why your system failed specifically will usually require some troubleshooting and knowledge of common reasons why these systems fail.
Seven Most Common Reasons for Hydraulic Failure
There are some main reasons why a hydraulic system might fail.
- Abrasion and Hose Tears: The hose assemblies need to be installed in a way that will minimize contact with other components in the system. If this doesn’t happen then it leads to the hose rubbing against the mechanical components or other hoses. Excess abrasion happens and causes premature hose failure. When the hose fails, the whole system fails. By ensuring that the components and hose assemblies are fitted properly, you can prevent the abrasion that leads to failing.
- Temperature Issues: Your system will not run properly if it is too cold or too hot and this can cause a number of problems over time. Heat will cause the fluids to thin and this prevents lubrication and causes the fluids to leak. Low temperatures can increase the viscosity of your hydraulic oil and this makes it harder for the oil to reach the pump. This puts systems under a greater load and can cause damage to the system.
- Heat Aging and Weathering: If a hose overheats then it causes thermal expansion. The expansion causes the premature aging of elastomers and plastics of the material that makes up the internal hose tube. This can also lead to decreased elongation of the molecular structure of the material and can cause increased brittleness. All this combined then leads to failure. In order to prevent overheating, it’s important to check the level of fluid. You want to make sure that it is not too low and that there aren’t any obstructions in the airflow surrounding the reservoir. The heat needs to escape. If the cooling circuit doesn’t work properly then it overheats.
- Wrong Insertion Depth and Broken Fittings: If the hoses in the hydraulics system aren’t assembled correctly then the system will have been put together incorrectly and will likely fail. Common assembly mistakes include not inserting the fitting to the right depths within the hose. The ill-fitted components then detach and create a system failure. If you use hose inspection depth blocks in order to prevent the hose and the fittings from overextending then you can ensure a safe and secure system that likely won’t fail.
- Fluid Quality and Level: The quality and level of fluids can affect the performance. Low-level fluid and the wrong filtration results in contamination. Leaks can also be common and exacerbate issues. Using the correct type of fluid is important and the fluid should be compatible with the specific application.
- Fluid Contamination: One of the most common causes of this failure is fluid contamination. If the fluids in your system are contaminated then it results in degrading fluid and affects the valve’s ability to control pressure. If the system can’t control the pressure then it leads to overheating in the system and the system isn’t able to regulate itself. Contamination not only leads to excess heat but it also leads to a build up of silt in the system and causes the parts to fail. In order to prevent this from happening, you need to make sure that the fluids and components are correct and clean before you use the system. This should be done with a thorough cleaning of the components to make sure that a potential contamination is removed. The components should be completely dry before use since moisture is also a contaminant.
- Human Error: Human error can be the cause of many different problems. While faulty installations are a main issue, there can also be issues with incompatible parts and improper usage and maintenance. If you work with an inexperienced installer who puts mismatched components together, it results in failures. For example, you shouldn’t pair a pump with a motor that goes beyond its maximum drive speed. Using the system outside the normal operational capacities and failure to perform regular maintenance are some common causes of damage and failure that can easily be avoided.
Who Should You Call to Repair Your Hydraulic Equipment?
You want a professional to repair your equipment since there is a lot that can go wrong with it. Professionals should also perform maintenance on the equipment since lack of equipment maintenance is a big reason for failure. It’s best to follow manufacturer recommendations and industry best practices when it comes to maintenance. You will also want to consider external influences, usage frequency, storage condition, and working pressure when it comes to how often your system should be maintained. Contact Sapphire Hydraulics for hydraulic services. Mobile units with certified hose technicians can design, assemble, maintain, and install your machinery at any time.