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A couple decades ago, there were any number of places where hydraulic systems could sprout leaks and quickly become non-operational. With the advancement of technology, components are now being manufactured to more exacting standards and are less likely to fail under pressure than those older style components.
However, leaks still do occur on hydraulics systems and they still have to be addressed promptly, otherwise, your hydraulics systems can halt your entire operation. When this occurs, you will need to carry out repairs for your hydraulic cylinder, contact a professional if you don't feel comfortable with the task yourself.
What Happens if a Hydraulic System Leaks?
Even though hydraulics technology has made some tremendous advances in recent years, leaks still do occur despite the usage of leak-free fittings.
Prior to the usage of leak-free fittings, it was possible for leaks to occur anywhere that a pipe was connected to another fixture in the system, but these causes of leaks have for the most part now been eliminated.
Today, the leading cause of leaks in any system are worn out seals and these are not always immediately detectable. Once a seal begins to wear out and lose its effectiveness, it should either be lubricated or replaced right away.
But the problem is that worn-out seals are not always immediately apparent. Even after becoming somewhat degraded, they can still function for a while; albeit with reduced performance.
Since they don't cause any kind of catastrophic failure, a slow leak can harm your system for quite some time before it's actually identified. Seals will always degrade more quickly if they aren't regularly lubricated, because improper lubrication increases the friction level on them, accelerating the degradation process.
When seals are properly lubricated using an appropriate type of lubricant, they will last much longer in operation and will provide more leak-free service during that period.
Can Hydraulic Cylinders be Repaired?
The short answer to this is, yes. They can be repaired, although it's much better if a qualified service technician does the repair work. When disassembling a motor, you should perform a complete inspection of all components, rather than just the single component that you suspect of failure.
The tools that you will need to carry out repairs of a cylinder will include a rubber mallet, a seal kit, a punch, pliers, emery cloth, screwdriver, and a torque wrench.
By far the most common cause for repairs is a leaking cylinder, and this calls for the following: taking the cylinder apart, diagnosing the problem, replacing or repairing any failed components, and finally rebuilding the motor.
The tools which you use in repair should be chosen carefully, given the fact that any metal tools could easily scratch the motor surface, leading to problems like corrosion in the future.
Make sure to use extra caution around larger cylinders, because many of these include high tension springs among their components, which can be dangerous to work with. If you have to replace any seals, don't bother measuring the size of the existing seal, because it will always undergo some kind of expansion or compression in accordance with prevailing environmental conditions.
During the reassembly process, don't forget to assemble the wear bands, because these are crucial for reducing metal-to-metal contact, and prolonging the life of your motor.
How to Fix a Leaking Hydraulic Cylinder
The first step in carrying out repairs of your hydraulic motor, is to purchase the correct hydraulic motor repair kit.
You can usually get this at your local dealer shop, and if you don't have one nearby, you can order the right repair kit online. If you can't find an all-inclusive kit, you can still order the individual parts, as long as you have the part numbers of the originals.
Before you actually begin the repair process, you should ensure that the part numbers from the old system match up with the part numbers from the new system; so you are always working with the correct components.
Before you begin, keep in mind that some of the pieces you might be working with can be extremely heavy and bulky. Be aware of the possibility of having your fingers crushed or harmed by the weight of these objects.
First of all, make sure the pressure has been fully released from your cylinder. You will then need to unscrew the gland from the cylinder, this may require a slight tap with a hammer. Once the gland has been removed, you'll be able to pull the piston rod out of the motor and be careful where you place it, so it does not get exposed to any dirt or debris.
When the piston rod has been pulled free, you can replace the rod into its original pin connection. Afterward, you'll be able to unscrew the retaining bolt which connects rod and piston. At this point, it's a good idea to take a picture of all the components so that you recall the order in which you disassembled them.
The reassembly process should be carried out as quickly as possible. This way your disassembly procedure can be recalled easily. Generally, you'll simply be replacing a seal or an O-ring in the gland or piston.
If your rebuild kit provides a diagram for reassembly, consult this for accuracy. Make sure all parts are well lubricated and once you reinstall the cylinder, start up the machine and test for any leaks.
Final Thoughts on Leaking Hydraulic Cylinders
If you don't feel comfortable in disassembling and reassembling your cylinder, by all means contact Sapphire Hydraulics and have our team of specialists do the work for you.
You can be guaranteed that all worn out parts will be replaced with guaranteed manufacturer's components and that all work will be professionally done, according to manufacturer specifications. Contact us today at Sapphire Hydraulics, so we can arrange to have your cylinder repaired as quickly as possible and so your operation can resume with minimal downtime.