7 Hydraulic System Inspection Checks You Might Overlook
Hydraulic systems help perform various tasks that can be too difficult to do manually. The hydraulic pumps, motors, cylinders, and other components all work together to ensure the equipment operates correctly.
However, hydraulic systems do require regular maintenance and regular inspections to keep them functioning as expected. Correct maintenance and inspections can help identify problems and prevent system failures most of the time.
It is worthwhile to get into the habit of performing the following hydraulic system inspections before, during, and after operating the system.
#1. Inspect the Hoses
The most common cause of hydraulic fluid leaks is from damaged hoses. If you notice sludge forming on the hoses, clean it off and check for leaks while the system is operating or after you shut it down. Just be careful because hydraulic oil can get very hot.
Part of your inspection should also include checking the condition of the hose and its length and routing. As hoses wear out, they become stiffer and more difficult to bend. You may also notice blistering or bubbling in various parts of the hose where the hose wall is weakening.
#2. Inspect Hose and Pipe Fittings and Clamps
Another common fluid leak source occurs around hose and pipe fittings and clamps. Before operating the system, verify they are secure and not loose. If you need to tighten them, be careful not to over-tighten them, as this can strip the threads and cause the joint to leak.. Additionally, the hose or pipe could burst when the system is under pressure.
#3. Inspect the Filter Bypass Valves
Before turning on the system, check to see if the filters are bypassing. Operating the system with the bypass valves open allows contaminants to circulate throughout the system, where they can cause hydraulic component damage and failures.
#4. Check the System’s Operating Temperature
Using hydraulic power will cause the fluid to heat up and temperatures to increase. However, heat generation can be mitigated by matching the reservoir to the maximum oil flow or by utilising a cooler. If you notice temperature levels increasing above normal operating temperatures, it may be necessary to use an infrared heat detection device to pinpoint where the excess heat is being generated.
#5. Inspect the Temperature of Valves
All types of valves, manual, solenoid and servo valves, can through restriction cause circuit temperature to increase. When they malfunction, heat generation increases and reaches temperatures far above normal levels for these valves. When temperatures reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit or 66 degrees Celsius, it indicates a problem with the valve.
#6. Pay Attention to the Sounds the Hydraulic System Makes
All hydraulic equipment and systems make sounds when in operation. You should be accustomed to the sounds that indicate correct operation. If you notice changes in the sounds, it usually indicates some type of hydraulic repair is needed. For example, if you notice a whining sound, it could mean fluid flow is restricted and the pump is cavitating. This could indicate an inlet obstruction, an empty reservoir, a faulty pump inlet fitting or a blocked inlet filter.
#7. Inspect the Breather Caps
The breather caps or breather filters are often one of the most overlooked items when performing inspections, maintenance, and repair services on a hydraulic system. The breather cap helps prevent fluid contaminants from getting into the fluid reservoir from outside sources.
#8. Inspect the Fluid Levels
You should always check the hydraulic fluid oil level when the system has been in operation. For example, fluid levels change as fluid is pumped into and out of hydraulic cylinders and hydraulic accumulators.
However, the fluid reservoir should be filled to compensate for these changes. As such, you need to maintain proper levels for optimum performance. When the fluid drops too low, it can damage hydraulic components, including pumps, motors, valves, and other parts.
#9. Inspect the Hydraulic Cylinders for Leaks
Another common cause of fluid leaks is from worn-out hydraulic cylinder seals. As the fluid leaks out, it can cause a pressure drop and cylinder failure. Fortunately, cylinder repairs are not difficult to make when you can identify leaks and resolve them before the cylinder fails.
#10. Perform Regular System Pressure Checks
The correct system pressure is required to maintain fluid power. Keep a record of your system pressures taken when the system is operating correctly to use as reference pressures.
You should be aware of how system pressures change when using hydraulic accumulators and cylinders. Furthermore, when there are unexplained pressure drops or spikes, it could indicate a faulty pressure control valve, accumulator, or air leak in a hose or pipe.
Hydraulic Parts and Repair Services
When you need hydraulic parts and repair services, including rebuilding and remanufacturing, you can rely on White House Products, Ltd. We carry one of the largest inventories of hydraulic components and provide custom-build options and quality repairs for all types of hydraulic systems and equipment.
For further information or to request a free estimate, please feel free to contact us a +44 (0) 1475 742500 today.
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