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Hydraulic Pump Troubleshooting Tips

Hydraulic systems are used in a wide range of applications and industries, from automobiles and farm equipment to construction and oil refining. At the heart of any hydraulic system are hydraulic motors and hydraulic pumps. These key components ensure the hydraulic fluid moves through the system to deliver the desired performance to complete the task at hand.

Yet, over time, you can start to notice a decline in performance. When this happens, it is essential to determine the cause and address it before it potentially causes damage to a wider range of hydraulic parts and components in your system.

Common Reasons for Pump Failure and Hydraulic Problems

Uncovering the source of pump failure and hydraulic problems requires you to know how the system is supposed to work and perform at peak efficiency. Having this knowledge is vital to know when things are not working correctly.
Even if you are not fully familiar with how the hydraulic system works at peak efficiency, you can still monitor for these common hydraulic problems:
  • Loss of Power – A loss of power means that the system is not able to perform the work it was built to do. You need to find out why the system is losing power and fix it.
  • Overheating – Overheating can occur for many reasons, such as the hydraulic fluid is not being cooled, there are fluid leaks, or relief valves are stuck closed so the fluid is not recycling.
  • Aeration of l – If air gets into hydraulic oil and the system, it can cause all sorts of problems, from a loss of power to damaging hydraulic motors and pumps.
  • Over-Pressurization – When the system is creating excessive pressure, it can lead to serious problems, including system failure.
  • Contamination of the Oil – If dirt, dust, debris, or other particles get into the oil, it can damage the pump and system. While a small amount of contaminants are common, your system should have filters to remove most particles.
  • Implosion – This problem is when there are air bubbles in the fluid. As they travel through the pump, they collapse, release the air and increase pressure inside the system, and result in shock waves that can damage the pump.
  • Improper Fluid Viscosity – Every system will require a specific type of fluid to function correctly. If you use the wrong type of fluid, viscosity issues can occur that result in all sorts of problems. Viscosity issues also arise when the fluid is not being changed regularly.
  • Aging – The age of the hydraulic pump, motor, and other parts and components can result in system problems and system fails. Everything does eventually wear out and will need to be replaced.
  • Water in the Fluid – If water gets into the fluid, it can cause system operations problems.

Hydraulic Troubleshooting Tests

Once you notice a problem with the hydraulic system, you should perform some hydraulic troubleshooting tests to see if you can determine the source of the problem. These tests can be broken down into sound tests and visual tests.

Sound Tests

  • What does the system sound like when it operates normally? Unusual sounds indicate something is wrong in the system. You want to pay attention to the sounds being made and where they are coming from to help determine what part or component is not working correctly.
  • Is there a high-pitched sound that is occurring at a steady pace? This is often an indication of cavitation, which is where the is not getting sufficient and a vacuum is being created. As the vacuum forms and collapses, it makes this high-pitched sound.
  • Does it sound like gravel or marbles are moving around inside the ? This sound indicates aeration problems where air is getting into the hydraulic oil. It may also be accompanied by a periodic whining sound.

Visual Tests

  • Is there sufficient oil in the system? Check the If it is low, it often indicates that there are oil leaks in the system.
  • Is the hydraulic motor on? If the motor is not on, it won’t operate the pump, and the system will overheat. Some systems require you to manually turn the motor on and off.
  • Is the shaft inside the turning? If the shaft is damaged and does not turn, fluid will not flow through the system, and you will notice a loss of and overheating.
  • Does the ook foamy or like chocolate milk? When water gets into the fluid, it will cause it to look milky and cloudy, often very similar to chocolate milk.

Hydraulic Pump Troubleshooting Checklist

Once you narrow down where the problem is coming from, then you can take steps to fix and resolve it. If the problem is the pump, run down this troubleshooting checklist to further narrow down the cause of the problem.
  1. Verify the pump is getting fluid.
  2. Review the manual directional control valve settings.
  3. Check the pump coupling for signs of damage.
  4. Check the fluid intake hose for leaks or damage.
  5. Verify the hydraulic motor is not running in reverse.
  6. Review the manual pump relief valve settings.         
  7. Check electrical wiring connections to see if they are connected correctly.
After finding the source of the pump problem and fixing it, run some system tests to verify the problem has been corrected.

Solutions for Hydraulic Systems

Please keep in mind, you should have a general knowledge of hydraulic systems, fluid dynamics, and other fundamental laws of hydraulics to effectively find the problem and resolve it.
For example, if overheating is occurring, it could be caused by a fluid leak. As the fluid leaks out, there will be a drop in pressure, which results in the system generating more heat near the source of the leak.
If you were to use an infrared thermal scanner, you could identify what part of the system was the hottest, to likely find the source of the leak. In a properly functioning system, the hottest part is typically the pump case.
Hydraulic troubleshooting and diagnosing hydraulic pump problems can be challenging, even for the most experienced maintenance technicians. There is much more to troubleshooting and resolving problems than what we have covered here.
If you have tried our tips and still cannot find the source of the pump problem, or you have other hydraulic problems, please feel free to contact us, at White House Products, Ltd., by calling +44 (0) 1475 742500 today!

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