Why Do Hydraulic Cylinders Fail?

hydraulic pipes

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. 

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