How to Effectively Maintain Your Hydraulic Cylinders

Hydraulic Cylinders often do work in places that people cannot reach. Because of the tendency to use them in harsh environments, it is common to see additional wear and tear on the hydraulic cylinder, it’s mounts, components, and seals. Routine maintenance of hydraulic cylinders can prevent failure, increase the longevity of the hydraulic cylinder and improve safety. An inspection and maintenance schedule should be followed to decrease unplanned downtime, and ensure operational functionality.

The best thing thing you can do to achieve long life, and optimum performance, is to ensure that the right hydraulic cylinder is being used for the application. Anytime a piece of equipment or machinery is brought down for inspection, maintenance, and repair, it should be evaluated for job effectiveness.

 

The tips below will help identify potential issues and prevent unscheduled downtime with your hydraulic cylinder:

 

  • Ensure an adequate filtration system for the hydraulic fluid. Check for dirt or foreign materials in the fluid with regularly scheduled samples taken and analyzed. Inspect the filter on the hydraulic fluid system for any clogs or debris.
  • Inspect the hydraulic cylinder rod for signs of weakness, stress, or wear. A rough, bent, or scored rod will damage seals or allow for leaks. A hydraulic cylinder with an improper mounting configuration can bend a rod and possibly bend or break a mount as well.
  • Inspect sealed area of the system components and fluid lines for evidence of leaks. Examine all lubricated areas and replenish as needed. If there is fluid leaking from around the head of the hydraulic cylinder and the rod does not appear to be scored or damaged, you may have a broken or severely worn seal.
  • Examine the hydraulic cylinder barrel for signs of ballooning and/or machine interference which can cause serious leaks, damage and even cylinder failure.
  • Check for side loading, which if not corrected, can lead to misalignment, tube scoring, bearing wear, and damage beyond repair. Side loading is when the cylinder has a sideways force applied to it, that is not linear to the cylinders functioning motion.

 

A simple inspection can go a long way to keeping your equipment up and running and preventing downtime. Even when you have the right hydraulic cylinder installed, and use the equipment properly, any of these maintenance issues can still occur from unstable loads or a shift in the equipment’s center of gravity. If you find you need a replacement seal kit, component part, or an entire replacement hydraulic cylinder, our hydraulic cylinder specialists are happy to help you demolish downtime and get your equipment back up and running again quickly. Contact Yarbrough Industries to get the parts you need, today!

Why Do Hydraulic Cylinders Fail?

Hydraulic cylinders are used in many industrial applications including a variety of manufacturing equipment and engineering vehicles, or civil engineering equipment. Hydraulic cylinders may encounter challenges for a variety of reasons. Regular equipment inspection, and a good preventive maintenance plan will help decrease the chances of cylindrical failure due to the following reasons:

  • Seal Leakage: One of the most common reasons we see cylinder failure is due to seal leakage. This can be caused by a variety of reasons, from something as simple as an incorrect fitting to inappropriate metalwork clearances. Some other causes of hydraulic cylinder seal leakage might be something like markings on seal grooves or corrosion.
  • Contaminated Fluid: Fluid contamination is another major reason for the cylindrical failure. Abrasive particles that are trapped in a contaminated fluid can bring severe damage to the piston rod or seal surface. Airborne contamination is usually induced by a faulty wiper seal.
  • Damaged Rod Bearings or Piston Rods: It is also common to see damaged rod bearings or piston rods that lead to hydraulic cylinder failure. This is caused due to improper alignment between load and the cylinder, thereby resulting in a bending, or side loading.
  • Internally Corroded Barrel: Contaminated fluid inside a cylinder can lead to internal corrosion. This can be avoided by blocking the water ingress inside the cylinder. However, it may be a sign that cylinder is being used in an environment, where it should not be used. It’s important for an expert to determine what the cause of the corrosion is and how it should be remedied. 
  • Broken Eye Bearing: If a cylinder handles loads above its specification, you may encounter a broken eye bearing.  These may also be caused by a shock loading or a sudden impact due to high pressure.
  • Extreme Temperatures: This factor may affect hydraulic cylinders  by limiting the choice of seal geometries or materials. It can also cause less lubrication and/or seals with cracked sides or brittle appearance.
  • Chemical Contact: Certain chemicals can cause cylinder failure when they come in contact with the seal. While verifying beforehand can prevent this, it is often forgotten, leading to compatibility issues and numerous problems. 

There are various other reasons for a cylindrical failure ranging from high pressure conditions to side loading and more. However, if you notice any symptoms of hydraulic cylinder failure, you can immediately contact an expert preventative maintenance service such as Yarbrough Industries.