Common Causes of Leaks in Hydraulic Cylinders

Many hydraulic cylinder repairs can be linked to a failure of the seals to perform as expected. Fixing the reasons why seals fail to work can therefore reduce the costs incurred on hydraulic cylinder repairs and maintenance. This article discusses some of the issues you should investigate when the hydraulic seals cause the system to malfunction.

Installation Issues

Leaks can quickly occur in hydraulic cylinders if the seals were installed incorrectly. Installation problems include exposing the seals to cuts and nicks, improper seal lubrication, over-tightening the gland of the seal and poor orientation of the seal. Many of these installation errors can easily be avoided if one adhered to the guidelines provided in the manual of the hydraulic system. Good house-keeping can also address cleanliness issues that compromise the integrity of the seals during the installation process. For instance, a clean environment will remove the risk of dust getting onto the seal during the installation process.

Chemical Breakdown

The common signs of chemical breakdown in seals include shrinkage, discolouration, swelling or softening of the seal material. Chemicals can also react with the cylinder itself. The incompatible chemicals may originate from the fluid that you are using in your hydraulic system. You may have also selected an incorrect seal material as you were buying replacement seals for your hydraulic cylinders. Make sure that the fluids in your system are compatible with all components of that system so that you avoid exposing the system to chemical damage.

Heat Degradation

Heat degradation can also cause hydraulic cylinder leaks. For instance, pinhole leaks can develop when an incorrect hydraulic fluid causes excessive heat to be generated within the cylinder. Seals can also become brittle and break if they are subjected to more heat than they were designed to withstand. Address the root cause of the excessive heating in order to fix the leaks that have been taking place. For instance, stop overloading your hydraulic equipment in case excessive loading is responsible for the high operating temperatures within the cylinders. Similarly, buying seals with a higher temperature rating can enable those seals to last longer at the operating temperatures within your hydraulic equipment.

Seals play a big role in ensuring that hydraulic cylinders remain defect-free for long. It is therefore important for you to take your time when selecting the seals that you use in your equipment. Ask a hydraulic cylinder repair professional for more information.