Hydraulic oil leaks are more common than you might imagine. However, such leaks pose serious issues for the hydraulic equipment owners as they amount to significant expenditures in terms of oil costs and the need to continually top up. According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), more than 2.65 billion litres of oil enters the environment on an annual basis, most of which is from illegal disposal. Out of the total disposal, 370 million litres is due to leaky hydraulic hoses. Research indicates that only 1 litre of such oil is needed to pollute almost 1 million litres of water. While leaks may be inevitable due to general wear and tear of equipment, there are a few ways leakage can be minimized and controlled.
Re-engineering your system
Hydraulic systems need connectors to function properly. Make sure to utilize valves and manifolds instead of connectors to minimize the occurrence of leakages. Cleverly designed internal mechanisms can help in the significant reduction of leaks. Though a machine designer can usually design such a structure, if you have a hydraulic system that has too many connectors, you can have a specialist such as the crew from S & T Hydraulics to make the necessary changes for you.
Using the right connectors
As described earlier, most leaks occur due to connectors. Use connectors that have minimum threads. For instance, NPT and BSPT both have threads. This means they have a propensity to leak. When these connectors are tightened, the threads may become deformed which increases gaps in the grooves. This is one of the major causes of leaks. Switch to connectors that have fewer grooves. You can also opt for an elastomeric seal that can be found on the ORFS, SAE, BSPP and UN-O-ring connectors. Not only do they provide superior sealing but also help to prolong leakages.
Try to replace the threaded connectors with an elastomeric seal. One of the most commonly found hydraulic connection is the JIC 37 flare which uses metal to metal style of the seal. This kind of seal is prone to leaks so you may want to install a conical washer connecting the flare and the joint’s nose, that helps to minimize the leak.
Tighten Them Properly
A majority of leaks are attributed to incorrect torque, especially those related to the 37° flare joints. Its seat contact is not enough for the connector and a higher than prescribed torque can result in damage to the tube. Moreover, it can also ‘crush’ the ferrule.
Hydraulic pumps vibrate when in function. However, if the vibration is too much, it can result in deterioration of joins and in-between valves. Make sure to check the signs of vibration. Ensure that the clamps support tubes and pipes adequately to reduce the vibration.
Keep your hydraulic pump from overworking and overheating. Maintain adequate lubrication and temperatures. Check and replace oil regularly and check for leaks so that you can continue running your pump without major repairs.
Amidst growing environmental concerns, many companies have realized the importance of fixing leaks in a timely manner. However, as there is always a downtime involved, many companies put off fixing leaks, ultimately resulting in the price of replacement of oil being almost as much as the cost of repairs. If you are a company that deals with hydraulic equipment, it may be prudent to invest in a preventive maintenance schedule as regular checking and maintenance minimize chances of leakage, and leakages getting ignored, not to mention the long term environmental hazards.
If you want to know more about how you can prevent and rectify leaks, contact S & T Hydraulics and get our experienced team to perform a detailed assessment of your hydraulic equipment for foolproof hydraulic maintenance and a leak repair plan.