Hydraulic Cylinder Leaks (And How to Fix them)

Hydraulic Cylinder Leaks (And How to Fix them)

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What is a Hydraulic Cylinder, and How does it work?

A Hydraulic Cylinder is a mechanical actuator, designed to carry a Hydrostatic force in a single direction. Commonly used in construction equipment, civil engineering and machinery designed for the manufacturing process. A hydraulic cylinder uses any form of hydraulic fluid, typically oil, that is pushed back and forth by a piston into each side of the cylinder. This enables the linear motion to work, making machines such as Bulldozers and tractors carry out movements such as breaking down buildings or heavy lifting that cannot be done through human force.

Hydraulic cylinders consist of a piston rod, a piston seal and two separate regions, all nutted and bolted together to exert the force of hydraulic fluid within the cylinder tube.

A hydraulic cylinder exerts massive amounts of force, anywhere from several kilograms, to a couple of thousand tonnes! Whatever linear motion you need automating, a good quality hydraulic cylinder is the perfect solution for any manufacturing, farming, civil engineering, or automation company’s needs.

What Causes Hydraulic Cylinders to Leak?

A common problem for high-load engineering and manufacturing companies is working out ways to minimize leakages from their hydraulic cylinders. Leakages in the cylinders can generally be caused by a worn seal or a worn barrel between the separate fluid regions.

The hydraulic fluid will seep through the cracks and enter the opposing region, this is likely to drain the cylinder of energy and isn’t at all visible from the piece of the machinery itself. It isn’t until operational managers and staff notice the drop in performance, that they realize there is a problem with the hydraulic cylinder. As the fluid is maintained inside, there isn’t a way to stop internal leakages without being equipped with the necessary tools for the job. A fluid leak of this kind can be referred to as a “leak down”, as the oil leaks down into the piston region of the cylinder.

Hydraulic cylinders may also leak as a result of over-tightening of the seal upon construction, this will lead to cracks in the build of the cylinder, ultimately damaging performance, and again posing as an invisible problem. It is vital to ensure that hydraulic cylinders are properly fitted, and regularly lubricated, this will minimize the chances of future leakages occurring.

Before buying your hydraulic cylinder, it is always best to equip yourself with spare lubricant & stop leaks, additional valves, and a bit of pre-research into maintaining your equipment.

How to Spot a Hydraulic Cylinder Leak?

Almost all hydraulic cylinders will show the same signs of a leak, if you understand the theory behind it, it’ll be much easier to notice the problem. When the hydraulic fluid leaks through the worn or faulty seal, the pressure between each region will change, when this happens, the motion of the rod is affected, as there is an uneven balance of fluid between each region. When the rod in the cylinder is set to move and return, you will notice that the fluid dispersion will cause the cylinder rod to slowly slide back into the open position.

This issue will be more common on older equipment that has been in use for a long time. The cylinder will have worn seals and valves due to a longer operating life, which increases the likelihood of leak downs, leak downs are a major problem for any business working with cylinder machinery.

Hydraulic cylinder leaks will become noticeable, as you have to replace the oil in your machine more frequently, this leads to increases in operating costs, which is the last thing your business needs. Oil is an expensive commodity and hydraulic products, especially hydraulic cylinders, rely heavily on oil as the engine to make them operate.

How do I Stop These Leakages?

The cheapest and simplest solution is to invest in a bottle of “Hydraulic Stop Leak”, this is a useful plasticizer that is used to prevent hydraulic fluid mixing in with the contents of the opposing region/reservoir. The stop leak material will act as a permanent seal on the hydraulic cylinder, to close up any previous gaps or cracks inside. The seal will also be able to retreat hydraulic fluid, which is great for ensuring you get a longer-lasting effect.

There are other ways you can prevent leaks from occurring in the future, such as good temperature control. By keeping your cylinders cool, ideally below 85 degrees Celsius (185 degrees Fahrenheit), you will greatly reduce the possibility of any leaks. Even a one-time exposure to temperatures above this can damage the seals and rubbers with your hydraulic cylinder, this can lead to future leaks.

Investing in a cylinder with high-quality connectors is vital to prevent leakages, cheap and short-life connectors will have a noticeable difference to high quality, branded cylinder components, and connectors. When leakages occur due to poor connectors, operational managers can often be hesitant to allow time for repairs. Maintenance is costly, and these kinds of businesses generally cannot afford a prolonged length of downtime, if the hydraulic cylinder is still creating results, managers will generally choose to keep the machine running, just because it costs less.

For those who are looking for a permanent solution to minimize and perhaps even eradicate the problems of hydraulic cylinder leakages, it is recommended that you look into purchasing the highest quality of cylinder.

Whatever your needs are, whether you need to minimize the amount of space your cylinder takes up, or you need several hundreds of tonnes of pressure in your cylinder, we suggest that you check out the range of our products here at Riverlake Hydraulic.

We cater for companies large and small, for all operating needs. If you need help working out what type of hydraulic cylinder you require, feel free to contact us by phone or email here https://riverlakeco.com/contact-us/

To view our range of products that are on offer, please visit the following link https://riverlakeco.com/products/

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