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.

Get direct access to industry-leading content

This industry moves fast, but you can move even faster if you’re up to date on trends, technical developments, and best practices. The Yarbrough Industries blog is a go-to source for valuable, timely and detailed information. Sign up to ensure that you don’t miss a single post.

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, its 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 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.

 

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 amount as well.
  • Inspect sealed areas of the system components and fluid lines for evidence of leaks. Examine all lubricated areas and replenish them 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 sideloading, which if not corrected, can lead to misalignment, tube scoring, bearing wear, and damaged beyond repair. Sideloading 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!

Get direct access to industry-leading content

This industry moves fast, but you can move even faster if you’re up to date on trends, technical developments, and best practices. The Yarbrough Industries blog is a go-to source for valuable, timely and detailed information. Sign up to ensure that you don’t miss a single post.

Hydraulic cylinders are used in many industrial applications, including various 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 various 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 cylindrical failure. Abrasive particles that are trapped in a contaminated fluid can bring severe damage to the piston rod or seal surface. A faulty wiper seal usually induces airborne contamination.

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 the load and the cylinder, resulting in bending or sideloading.

Internally Corroded Barrel

The 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 the cylinder is being used in an environment where it should not be used. It’s important for an expert to determine the cause of the corrosion 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 hydraulic cylinder failure symptoms, you can immediately contact an expert preventative maintenance service such as Yarbrough Industries. 

Get direct access to industry-leading content

This industry moves fast, but you can move even faster if you’re up to date on trends, technical developments, and best practices. The Yarbrough Industries blog is a go-to source for valuable, timely and detailed information. Sign up to ensure that you don’t miss a single post.