Most common hydraulic equipment mistakes

Hydraulic equipment and machinery can be complex and hard to understand without at least a basic knowledge of how they work. Even more important than understanding how hydraulic systems work is knowing how to use them, and a big part of that is knowing what mistakes to avoid. There are some common, reoccurring mistakes we often see our customers making, but there are also a few key tips which could save a considerable amount of time and money. Below we’ll run through some of the most common hydraulic equipment mistakes with you.

Lacking knowledge of hydraulic equipment

While this isn’t necessarily a mistake, it is an issue which is common with many users of hydraulic machinery. Knowing and understanding how hydraulic machinery works can go a very long way towards ensuring you do not make any costly mistakes. If you own a business which commonly uses hydraulic machinery, ensure employees who may use the equipment understand how it works on the inside.

Changing oil

When it comes to many other bits of machinery and vehicles, changing engine oil regularly is one of the quickest and simplest maintenance tasks you can carry out. Unfortunately, that is not the case when it comes to hydraulic equipment, as hydraulic oil doesn’t have a set service life. Firstly, the only way to tell if the oil in a hydraulic system has degraded, or the additives have been depleted, is by carrying out engine oil analysis. If the hydraulic analysis shows that the oil is in bad condition, then the oil should be changed. But doing so without knowing first is often a big waste of time and money. Frequent oil analysis should help you pick up oil degradation as soon as possible so that the system is not damaged by further use.

Changing oil filters

Similarly to changing oil, changing oil filters is another common mistake many owners and operators of hydraulic equipment make. Unlike the oil in hydraulic systems, hydraulic oil filters have a pretty standard service life. The longer they remain in the system, the more particles they accumulate until, eventually, the bypass valve for the filter opens. Once this valve opens, unfiltered oil is allowed through, subsequently reducing the lifespan of all components it comes into contact with. Changing oil filters too early is a waste of money as you won’t get the most out of the filter, while doing the opposite puts additional strain on the system. The best way around this is to use a continuous monitoring system to determine how well each hydraulic oil filter is performing.

Running the system too hot

Another way in which hydraulic systems differ to normal engines is their running temperature. Oil temperature in internal combustion engines is not as big a concern because the power from the engine is transferred to the gears of the drivetrain. In a hydraulic system, on the other hand, the oil is the means of energy transfer. Past a certain temperature, hot oil can be very bad news for some of the comparatively more fragile components in the system, so it’s best to stop using a hydraulic system when the oil temperature gets too high. How hot is too hot really depends on the system, its components and the specific oil being used. Ultimately, it comes down to the oil viscosity and how it changes with temperature. Past a certain point oil becomes less viscous as it heats up. Once it reaches this temperature the oil is unable to provide adequate lubrication, and the potential for damage to system components increases.

Using the wrong oil

As the lifeblood of the hydraulic system, the importance of using the correct oil can’t be overstated. The type of oil best suited for each hydraulic system varies considerably depending on the components and the environmental conditions the system will be used in. The oil needs to be able to provide adequate lubrication at atmospheric temperature when the system is first started up, as well as providing adequate lubrication when the system has reached operating temperature on a hot day. As a result, it’s a bad idea to just fill a hydraulic system with whatever oil you think might work. Instead, it’s best to consult with professionals so that you don’t damage your hydraulic system and its components.

Placing oil filters in the wrong locations

Oil filters serve a vital role in maintaining the overall health of a hydraulic system. But in certain circumstances they can actually do more harm than good. If you are adding oil filters to a hydraulic system, there are a couple of locations you should avoid at all costs. These are the pump inlet and drain lines from the housings of piston pumps and motors. Placing oil filters in these locations can significantly affect the amount of oil getting into the pump or motor. This not only reduces its effectiveness; it can also cause significant damage to the pump or motor’s components.

A bit of extra knowledge can go a long way towards prolonging the life of your hydraulic system and its components. If you would like to know more else about any of the issues we have discussed above, please get in touch.