Hydraulic Cylinder Common Problems and Solutions

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Hydraulic Cylinder Common Problems and Solutions

The risk of failure arises for every machinery. Some of the problems will be easily repairable and some others need a complete replacement of machinery. This will mostly depend on how well the maintenance is done to the machinery. Any poorly maintained machinery can cause serious failures and effects the performance badly. The topic to discuss here is common problems and solutions of the hydraulic cylinder.

Hydraulic cylinders are an important component in every application it has been used. The function of the hydraulic cylinder is almost similar to that of human muscles which makes the machinery stronger while handling heavy loads. For the hydraulic cylinder, it is the applied hydraulic pressure that makes the piston rod extend or retract withstanding heavy load.

Lack of proper inspection, preventive maintenance, incorrect cylinder design and wrong installations will definitely cause failure or even catastrophic results. But, before the complete breakdown, the system will show certain symptoms that help to detect the problem early as possible. Some common symptoms of hydraulic cylinder failure are listed below in points.

  • Air in hydraulic cylinder, cavitation, and contamination will cause unpleasant banging or knocking noises.
  • Lack of lubrication damaged seals, and increased friction will create difficulty for the hydraulic cylinder piston and rod movement. This is called “slip-stick” or “juddering”.
  • Increased energy consumption due to fluid leakage and increased friction.
  • Overheating of the cylinder is also a signal of abnormal system operation.
  • Misalignment, excessive lateral loading, and other external wear will make the piston rod wear.

After understanding the signs of hydraulic cylinder failure, next is to find the reasons for hydraulic cylinder related issues. This will be helpful for both detecting the failure reason, inspection and maintenance. The major reasons for hydraulic cylinder failure that helps for troubleshooting are:

  • Damaged piston rod and rod bearing: The hydraulic cylinder will deliver linear motion to the attached load and make the system perform as desired. The piston and rod arrangement is important in the cylinder and the damage to piston rods and rod bearing is caused by the bent piston rod, undersized rod and poor alignment between the cylinder and its load(which is called sideloading).
  • Fluid Contamination: Contaminated fluid is a serious concern for every hydraulic component in the system. In the case of hydraulic cylinders, contamination will lead to premature rod seal failure. Water, air, and other particles entering into the fluid can make damage to the seal resulting in premature rod seal failure, score marks on the seal, cushion sleeve and rod bearing. Implementing proper filtration methods in the hydraulic systems is an appropriate solution to solve this issue.
  • Extreme Temperature: Every component in the hydraulic system is designed to withstand a maximum temperature range. If it exceeds the predefined value, definitely will damage the component along with hydraulic fluid properties. The hydraulic cylinder seals will become hard, cracked and brittle when the temperature rises.
  • Chemical attack: Some incompatible fluids will react with cylinder and seal materials chemically resulting in failure caused by corrosion and other wear. This issue can be prevented by choosing compatible hydraulic fluid for use.
  • High pressure or low-pressure leaks: Hydraulic cylinder drift is a serious concern of fluid leakage other than fluid loss and associated dangers. Leakage occurs due to seal damage, incorrect assembly, and lack of maintenance.

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