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White House Products Ltd - Hydraulic Pump Supplier


Hydraulic Equipment Safety Tips and How to Fix a Hydraulic Leak

Hydraulic oil leak in base tray of blue tank.
Hydraulic systems are not designed to leak. A sealed hydraulic system would operate without any problems in a perfect world. However, hydraulic fluid leaks and hydraulic equipment failures do occur. We will go into causes, dangers, and solutions to these leaks and three simple steps to fix them.

What Causes a Hydraulic Fluid Leak?

Many hydraulic systems use hydraulic hoses, valves, and other components secured together using clamps, seals, or other such means. With regular use, a leak can eventually occur at these junction points.
There are newer hydraulic systems with leak-free fittings that are less likely to develop leaks.  When newer systems develop leaks, the cause is often due to faulty internal seals, such as piston seals in hydraulic cylinders.
Other causes of fluid leaks include:
  • Seal Degradation – Seals can dry, crack, distort and break, creating a leak.
  • Loose or Worn-Out – Fluid will start dripping slowly from the defective fitting.
  • Fluid Contamination – Contaminants cause extra in connectors, seals, and fittings and can cause internal and sometimes external leakage.
  • External environmental corrosion and degradation can cause leaks from any exposed component.
When a leak first develops, you often do not notice a change in system performance. However, as the leak progresses, a reduction in hydraulic pressure is common.

The Dangers of Hydraulic Fluid Leaks

Hydraulic oil is often hot enough to cause permanent physical injury.  So while it is often tempting to take your hand and run it down hydraulic hoses and other areas to find the source of a leak, never do this.
Other concerns are the long-term effects. For example, if the cause of the leak is from contamination, your hydraulic pump, motor, or other parts will gradually deteriorate.

3 Steps to Repairing Hydraulic Fluid Leaks

1. Preparation and Safety Measures

Depressurise the system before attempting to repair hydraulic components. Never work on a hot system, as hot hydraulic fluid can cause an explosion or severe burns.
Next, ensure you have proper safety gear, like thick gloves and safety glasses, to protect your eyes. Always use the proper safety measures when making repairs. Additionally, always attempt to do the repair in a clean area to avoid dust, dirt, and debris from getting into the system. 

2. Diagnose the Problem

Check the fluid/oil reservoir, pump, hoses, valves, and other components you find near the point where the hydraulic fluid is collecting. Fluid leaks may only sometimes be at the point where you find the fluid since fluid always flows to the lowest point before it drips.
  • Visual inspections not only reveal signs of leakage but also damage to parts, such as and other components.
  • Monitoring the reservoir will quickly determine how much oil is being lost externally. A drip may be small, but over a day can add up to a substantial volume. 
  • High fluid temperatures and noise can signal , particularly in pumps, motors, valves, or cylinders.  

3. Fix the Leak

It’s often not exceedingly difficult to fix a hydraulic leak. Always replace O-rings and bonded washers even if they are not defective. Using old seals with new fittings will only cause the leak to return.
To ensure an effective repair:
  • Replace any damaged hoses you find.
  • Never reuse old parts.
  • Avoid over-tightening connectors and fittings, as this can cause leaks too.
  • Consult a professional for complex hydraulic systems or when you cannot find the source of the leak.

Can Hydraulic Fluid Leaks Be Prevented?

Forklift hydraulic oil is leaking
Hydraulic fluid leaks can be prevented with regular system and preventative maintenance. Maintenance should include inspecting hydraulic hoses, fittings, fluid levels, seals, etc.
If you discover a leak during maintenance, it might just be starting. However, with a quick fix, you can avoid a more extensive leak and, potentially, other problems later.
At White House Products Ltd., our technicians have the experience and tools to pinpoint hard-to-diagnose leaks safely. We carry a full range of hydraulic components from leading manufacturers.
In addition, we have an in-house repair service to refurbish damaged hydraulic pumps, motors, and cylinders fully. Contact White House Products, Ltd. at +44 (0) 1475 742500 or sales@whp.co.uk for further assistance today!

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