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26 Jan 2022

NEWS & INSIGHTSSigns of Hydraulic Cylinder Failure

While we have outlined the top four causes of hydraulic cylinder failure, we want to focus on additional causes of hydraulic cylinder failure. Learning how to prevent hydraulic cylinder failure can help keep your cylinders running smoothly.

The most common sign is the cylinder will no longer support the load. Also, the cylinder will leak a lot of hydraulic fluid. In extreme cases the cylinder will not lift the load at all.

Additional causes of hydraulic failure:

    1. Contamination
    2. Seal Failure
    3. Piston and Rod Damage
    4. Extreme Temperatures
    5. Excessive Pressure / Over Pressurizing

1. Contamination

Whether it is from air contamination or fluid contamination, debris and other particulates can abrasively damage your hydraulic cylinder. Liquid particles can also increase the likelihood of advanced seal damage and failure. External contaminants can cause component degradation while internal contaminants can cause unintended leakage.

2. Seal Failure

One of the most common causes of hydraulic cylinder failure occurs with seal leaks. Improper installation, physical damage, and excessive heat can cause your cylinder seals to fail. When a hydraulic seal is damaged, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the proper internal pressure.

3. Piston and Rod Damage

Piston and rod damage can occur due to normal wear and tear, however, damage from rod bearings or pistons are a common cause of cylinder failure. Bending or side loading due to improper installation can add unneeded force to your cylinder, ultimately causing complete system failure.

4. Extreme Temperatures

Regardless of work environment, excessive heat and bitter cold temperatures can cause irreparable damage to your cylinders. Temperature extremes can affect the effectiveness of your cylinder’s seals. Fluids exposed to extreme heat or cold can cause lubrication issues. Fluids that are too thin or too thick for ambient conditions can cause leakage issues, resulting in hydraulic cylinder failure.

5. Excessive Pressure / Over Pressurizing

System failure can occur when hydraulic cylinders are over pressurized. Excessive pressure can cause cylinder sleeves to bulge, dislodging the stop ring that holds the cylinder together. Over pressurization can break stop rings and caps, thereby causing system failure and damage.

A phenomenon known as water hammer can also cause damage to cylinders. Water hammer is typically caused by a shock to the hydraulic system. This can be from a valve that closes too quickly. In trailers this is usually the result of the driver trying to make the cylinder retract faster by driving forwards and then applying the brakes hard. This is a very bad practice. The resulting water hammer can cause the cylinders to experience very high internal pressures on the cylinder wall known as “Hoop Stress”. This can cause the induvial stages of the cylinder to swell to such an extent that the stage cannot be retracted back into its housing.

Preventing Hydraulic Cylinder Failure

With the common causes of hydraulic cylinder failure noted, it is important to highlight ways to prevent failure from occurring. Scheduled routine maintenance remains one of the best ways to prevent system failure. Therefore, with routine maintenance issues can be pinpointed before they balloon into catastrophic cylinder failure issues.

Some tips for preventing failure include

  • Ensure your hydraulic cylinder is properly aligned and seals are installed correctly.
  • Check that you are using the correct fluids and seal materials.
  • With routine maintenance, check for uneven wear and tear or eroded seals.
  • Consult with a hydraulic cylinder professional when in doubt.

Ensure Your Hydraulic Cylinder Doesn’t Fail

Understanding common problems that can cause your hydraulic cylinder to fail can enable you to stay ahead of unwanted repairs and potential replacement concerns.

Found issues with your seals during routine maintenance? Not sure if part replacement will solve your cylinder issues?  Contact us to discuss your hydraulic cylinder issues. We can help you determine the best course of action for seal replacement or complete hydraulic cylinder replacement.

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