The biggest threat to a hydraulic system is when the fluid becomes contaminated. Particulate contamination can have an adverse effect on the chemical and physical properties of the fluid. As a result, the hydraulic system will become less efficient and will wear out more quickly.
Hydraulic Fluid Contamination
Hydraulic fluids are formulated so they can fulfill a specific application. They come with a base stock and have an additive that is designed for the unique conditions the fluid will be placed under.
Why Water is Dangerous
Even if water enters your hydraulic system, this can have a negative impact on the performance of your hydraulic system. Water is not a good lubricant and will reduce the viscosity and load-carrying abilities of your system. This can increase the level of surface-to-surface contact. When you have water in your hydraulic system, this can lead to ice forming under very cold conditions, which can degrade the system's performance.
Sometimes, the water will form an emulsion within the system. Or, the water might be immiscible and float at the top of the hydraulic system. Regardless, the water will lead to components within your hydraulic system corroding. The corrosion can lead to particulate contamination. Components might fail after corroding to a certain extent. Also, corroded components will cause leaks, which will cause the loss of hydraulic fluids.
Solid Particulate Contamination
In addition to water, the hydraulic system can be contaminated by solid particulates. Even a small number of particles can be harmful to any hydraulic system. The particulates can be abrasive, cause clogs, and change the composition of the hydraulic system.
Keeping Your Hydraulic Fluid Clean
Some contamination is unavoidable and is a result of the normal operation of the hydraulic system. To prevent everyday contamination, you will need to install filters that will keep your hydraulic fluids clean. You may also need to replace your hydraulic fluid regularly to make sure that it is always fresh.
A wiper is a component that is responsible for keeping sand, dirt, and other forms of debris out of the cylinder. A wiper seal is different from a seal in that it is designed to keep things out to avoid contamination. The wiper seal maintains contact with the piston rod when your equipment is not in operation to prevent contamination. For this reason, you will want to make sure that your wipers are replaced when they wear out.