Back Pressure

Back pressure is a phenomenon observed in many types of systems in which gases or fluids are conveyed through confined areas. For anyone who must maintain a hydraulic system, failure to understand the concept of back pressure and to take steps to manage it, when necessary, can lead to significant equipment damage.

Pressure and Back Pressure

Pressure is force divided by area (commonly expressed as P=F/A). In a hydraulic system, the pressure of the fluid will decrease or increase in proportion to changes in the area (e.g., a cylinder) over which the force is acting.

The Venturi tube provides a dramatic illustration of this concept. This is a type of tube with an hourglass-like design. As fluid is forced through the tube, the sudden reduction of area at the narrow middle alters the pressure of the media.

The management of pressure in a hydraulic system is essential for its proper functioning, as fluid travels from low-pressure zones to higher pressure zones.

Back pressure in a hydraulic system refers to the pressure that impedes the normal flow of the fluid. In some cases, it is caused by for example: obstructions in the system, reduced passage sizes or filter contamination that hinders fluid movement. Manipulation of a hydraulic hose, pipe, tube, or line can dramatically modify the back pressure at that zone of the circuit.

The Problem of Back Pressure

The presence of back pressure in a system means that more force must be generated to overcome the circuit. This results in inefficient operation and, sometimes, failure of one or more components as more power is needed just to push the fluid round the circuit before it actually does any useful work, normally generating heat which then has to be dissipated. In the worst case scenario, total system failure may occur.

Matching fluid type, component size and internal pipe diameter correctly to the maximum pump oil flow will help reduce back pressure in a circuit to a minimum.

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