Hydraulic systems look complicated, but they really aren’t that hard to maintain. All you need is a little preventative maintenance, and some basic know-how.
Every component in a hydraulic circuit affects all the other components in the circuit. When one component goes out or isn’t working properly it can affect everything else in the circuit. For instance, if you have a valve adjusted incorrectly, it can cause a loss in HP, which can cause excess heat in your system. Excess heat in your system can cause seals to deteriorate more quickly causing more issues.
The number one cause of system failure in my experience has been fluid contamination. Whether that means dirt in the system, water, the wrong type of oil, or metal shavings. Basically, anything but hydraulic fluid. Here in Texas I recommend using a desiccant air filter to my customers to remove moisture in the air that is pulled into the hydraulic reservoir.
- Change your filters out regularly – less contaminants, less problems. The best way to tell when it’s time to change your filter is with a filter bypass indicator. If your system doesn’t have filters, get them.
- Check your oil level – your hydraulic system uses fluid to transfer power, but it also uses it to dissipate heat. Not having the correct amount of fluid could lead to overheating your system or worse, having your pump fail.
- Check for leaks – hydraulic fluid is expensive. More than that if fluid can get out, contaminants can get in.
- Check your system temperature – most hydraulic systems are designed to work at about 40° above ambient temperature. If your hydraulic system is operating at higher than 140° you probably have an issue. At 180° most seals will start to deform and deteriorate, causing internal and external leakage.
Checking these things regularly can keep your system running well and save you time and money.