Dealing With Overheating Hydraulics
We rely on hydraulic systems every day. From getting to work, filling up our car, building houses, drilling, and mining all rely on hydraulic systems to get the job done right. And much of this work relies on everything operating as it should. That includes equipment and parts staying at the right temperature.
Unfortunately, overheating is the second most common hydraulic issue behind leaks. When things start to get heated, hydraulic parts can break and things can go south - very quickly. Dealing with overheating hydraulics and carrying out hydraulic repairs should be done as soon as possible. Here’s all you need to know about overheats and how to prevent them.
Overheating is caused by inefficiencies within the operating system. Be it a loose part, an inefficient pump setting, or anything that impedes the normal running of the system, the total power loss is converted to heat. When this heat is not able to be dissipated faster than the rate of heat build-up - this will result in overheating. Hydraulic systems can also overheat due to operating in a hotter environment - Australia’s climate is no exception.
This largely depends on the type of system you’re running and its normal ‘safe’ operating range. But generally, a hydraulic system starts to overheat when the oil temperature exceeds 82 degrees Celsius. Anywhere above this point and you’re going to want to stop operations. Keep a close eye on temperatures as you complete tasks - noting down inconsistencies will be key when it comes to maintenance and regular check-ups.
At this point, the oil starts to degrade faster, and seal compounds will start to be destroyed. As heat builds up the hydraulic fluid starts to lose its viscosity allowing parts to rub together causing ware and tare. This in turn causes heat to build up creating a vicious cycle.
First thing is to shut down the entire system. By doing this you can mitigate against any further damage that might be caused by overheating such as wear and tear of internal parts. Begin inspections and repairs ONLY once the system has cooled down. Attempting to conduct maintenance can be dangerous if the system is still running hot.
Keeping the temperatures down both within and outside your system is key. Here are five ways you can maintain a stable hydraulic fluid temperature:
It’s often the case that the heat exchanger core is blocked. The heat exchanger relies on an uninterrupted flow rate and proper circulation of cooling fluid within the system. Any abnormalities with the water circulating system or coolant should be fixed without delay.
While it’s not entirely possible to change the weather, ensuring there is minimal ambient heat is key to ensuring your system does not overheat. Everything can be in working internally, but a 40-degree day can put a stop to almost any activity if your system falls prey to the heat. The same goes for hot, underground environments or if you’re close to a fire or another machine producing excess heat. There are ways to lessen the effect of ambient heat. Any way of cooling your work environment down by use of air coolers or fans is advisable.
Heat dissipation is carried out by the reservoir. If your reservoir isn’t full or running low this can cause overheating. Check regularly on the fluid levels, and be sure to clean the area to ensure airflow is unhindered by dirt or debris.
Leaks in a system will create low pressure and increase the heat load. A relief valve may not be working - which could further reduce the ability of the system to maintain optimum pressure. Target low pressure instantly with a check-up and servicing.
This can’t be stated enough. Running a system that isn’t well maintained is not only risky but can leave you prone to major overheating problems down the track. Hydraulic repairs should be undertaken whenever something isn’t quite right or there is a failure within the system. Mitigating against system failure is an ongoing process dealing with hydraulics. As environments change and as the nature of work changes, issues can spring up almost unexpectedly.
Targeting issues before they actually “become” a problem is the best method of dealing with overheating hydraulics. By recognising the early warning signs of overheating you can then take steps to minimise the effects or even better stop it from happening in the first place.
You’ll want to ensure your maintenance is up to date and your planned servicing targets overheating related issues. Having a reliable and trustworthy hydraulic repairs company to take care of these issues on your behalf can greatly reduce the likelihood of overheats.