An Overview of Seven Common Causes of Hydraulic Cylinder Failure

A high-quality hydraulic cylinder, like those manufactured at Best Metal Products, when properly maintained should last a very long time. However, you should be aware of the causes of hydraulic cylinder failure and how to prevent them.

Contaminated fluid. Perhaps the most common cause of hydraulic cylinder failure is contaminated fluid. Unintended particulates within the fluid can scratch the inside of the cylinder while liquid contaminates can degrade the cylinder’s fittings and seals.

Damaged seals. As mentioned before, seals can become damaged from contaminated fluid, but they also can become damaged from abuse. Damaged seals cause problems by affecting the cylinder’s ability to maintain the correct pressure.

Side loading. Side loading of a hydraulic cylinder occurs when they are installed improperly, and force is applied perpendicular to the intended direction of your hydraulic cylinder’s movement. Side loading causes unnecessary strain to all components of the cylinder and can lead to catastrophic failure.

Piston damage. Occurring because of a number of causes, piston damage can cause a hydraulic cylinder to fail completely. Pistons wear over time but can also be damaged by side loading or contaminated fluid.

Incorrect pressure.  It’s extremely important to monitor and maintain precise internal pressure according to manufacturer’s specifications. If your hydraulic cylinder experienced pressure variations outside of specification the cylinder will not perform as intended.

Physical damage. If there has been an accident, the physical damage can cause a number of problems to the hydraulic cylinder. It’s important to have your equipment thoroughly inspected by a professional if any amount of physical damage has occurred.

Improper maintenance. Hydraulic cylinders need to be treated as an important piece of precision machinery. You must always make sure that the cylinder is installed properly, the right seals and fluid are used, and the right amount of fluid is used.

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