Why You Should Keep Air Out of Hydraulic Systems

Some owners of heavy hydraulic construction equipment may wonder why they keep incurring high costs to repair hydraulic components, such as cylinders and seals. This article discusses how entrained air may be the cause of the frequent equipment failures.

Reduction of Viscosity

Many manufacturers of hydraulic equipment specify the viscosity of the fluid that should be used in the hydraulic equipment. That recommended viscosity is usually determined after extensive research to find out what kind of fluid will be able to perform reliably in the different applications, such as excavating, to which the equipment will be put to use.

Trapped air can alter the viscosity of the hydraulic fluid in the equipment. This is because the air molecules may break the bonds between the molecules of the hydraulic fluid. This can cause equipment components to wear out quickly due to overheating.

Explosions Can Occur

Cavitation refers to the formation of bubbles within a hydraulic system due to the accumulation of trapped air. That trapped air can explode if it is compressed excessively as the cylinder rods move up and down as the equipment is being used. Those explosions can cause system seals and other components to fail catastrophically due to the extensive damage that they suffer once the trapped air explodes. This can put your hydraulic equipment out of service for a long time as you conduct repairs.

Low Control Responsiveness

Trapped air can cause clogs within the hydraulic system. Such clogs may slow down how the equipment responds to the commands executed by the equipment operator. For instance, the operator may push a lever to lift a bucket that is attached to an excavator. The bucket may delay to move up because the rate at which the fluid is flowing through the hydraulic system is low. This delay can cause the operator to push harder on the control lever. This can displace the clog suddenly with the unwanted result that the bucket will hit an overhead barrier. Such an accident could have been avoided if the hydraulic equipment was responding to control actions promptly.

As you can see, entrained air can have several damaging effects on your hydraulic equipment. It is therefore very important for you to ensure that air does not enter the hydraulic system of your equipment. For instance, all fluid lines should be bled after major repairs so that air does not remain trapped within the hoses. Consult an expert for help regarding the other steps that you can take to keep air out of the system. You will then notice a reduction in the frequency of hydraulic failures and repairs.