No matter how well you care for your hydraulic system, there is always the chance that it may form a leak. Although it usually seems minor in the beginning, even a small leak could grow over time. It’s important to know how to locate leaks and deal with them early to prevent costly repairs later on. 

How Do You Know If Your Hydraulic System Has a Leak?

There are many factors that can cause or contribute to a leak in any hydraulic system. The majority of leaks occur because of one of the following conditions:

  • Connectors and fittings are loosened by shock and vibrations
  • Wear and tear on seals in the hydraulic cylinders
  • High-temperature damage, possibly due to using incompatible fluid

Although these are not the only reasons a hydraulic system forms a leak, they are the most common.

Other system issues can lead to leaks as well. Discovering the leak often leads to finding other issues your hydraulic system may have. No matter the cause of the leak, you need to find it and fix it as soon as possible.

By paying careful attention to the signs, you can typically find a leak before it causes large problems. Here are a few ways you can tell your hydraulic system has a leak somewhere.

Visual Inspection

Regularly looking over your hydraulic system can occasionally be an essay way to find a leak. Signs of a leak might include things like puddles or wet spots around or under your system. If you can visually spot a leak, it’s important to deal with it immediately.

Drops in Fluid Levels

Another important aspect of your hydraulic system that you should monitor is the fluid levels. If you notice the fluid levels dropping, you can safely assume you have a leak. Fast drops in the levels mean you have a clear problem somewhere within your hydraulic system. Slow, gradual leaks may be more challenging to find, but if you check the levels frequently, you will notice the missing fluid.This is another fairly easy issue to diagnose and repair quickly if you stay on top of it.

Drops in Pressure

When a hydraulic system begins leaking, it cannot always maintain the right operating pressure. This could also seem like a general slowdown in the way your system is operating.

In addition to other signs, your hydraulic system may start making noises or your fluid may reach excessive temperatures. Generally, if your hydraulic system isn’t performing as it should, heavy leaks could be the culprit.

How to Deal With Hydraulic System Leaks

Once you know you have a leak, you’ll need to pinpoint the location of the leak and any other leaks you might have. Since most leaks occur at joints, seals, and connectors, you can check those areas immediately. When checking for leaks:

  • Depressurize the system. 
    Put on thick leather gloves.
  • Don’t use your hand to check for the leak or you could burn yourself.
  • Use cardboard or a piece of wood to check for the leak.

If you find a leak at a fitting, tighten the fitting. You may want to replace any faulty connections altogether with high-grade compatible ones, including seals. Also, search along the hoses to look for signs of damage or leakage. Replace any damaged hoses immediately.

To find leaks for a larger hydraulic system, use a professional service.

Various tools and methods exist for detecting leaks in larger systems, including dyes that can help pinpoint hard to find leaks.

You can find tools to test pressure, flow, and temperature yourself, which can help you detect leaks. However, you need a proper understanding of hydraulic mechanics to use these types of tools.

At Yarbrough Industries we are hydraulic repair specialists. If you are experiencing leaks or need quality hydraulic parts, contact us today for assistance.

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