Dealing With An Overheating Hydraulic System
One of the most common problems that can plague a hydraulic system is the presence of high heat. The insidious nature of the problem is that it often causes other problems. You may think these other problems are the cause of your system issues, but it's the heat that's the root cause.
How Much Heat Is Too Much?
It's a given that there's going to be some heat generated in a hydraulic system. But you need to know how hot is too hot for your particular system. If you have a manufacturer's system, then you should look at the operational parameters in your owner's manual or on the manufacturer's website.
If you feel much more heat coming from a part of the system where there wasn't that much heat radiating before, then that component is overheating. Once you know the operational parameters, you can occasionally check your system for overheating by touch and feel. In addition, if you find yourself constantly replacing seals and hoses, the temperature of the fluid going through them is most likely far too hot.
High Fluid Temperature
Remember that excess heat will in turn cause other components in your hydraulic system to wear prematurely. It's not just the heat of the component though. High heat means high fluid temperature. When the temperature of the fluid is too hot, it does a number of detrimental things to your system.
At their core, all fluid control systems depend on the integrity of the fluid itself. The fluid flowing through your hydraulic system has a viscosity grade. That grade must match the operating temperature range of your hydraulic equipment. In fact, many consider viscosity one of the most important aspects of a hydraulic system.
The hotter the fluid gets, the lower its viscosity. Low viscosity means that the fluid is no longer properly lubricating the system's components. This will lead to deterioration of those components. It will also lead to the deteriorated material getting into the fluid and further lowering its efficacy. No matter what viscosity grade you work with, remember that 180°F is the temperature where your seals will start to fail you.
So What's the Cause of the Heat?
Is the hot fluid causing the overheating? Or is the overheating component causing the hot fluid? Here's a few things you can check yourself.
- Check if you're using the right fluid rated for your system
- Check for buildup of debris that can cause airflow obstruction
- Check the reservoir
- Check the heat exchanger
Checking the reservoir is probably the first order of business. Heat dissipates into the reservoir, so checking the level of fluid there may help. If it's low, then it's not doing its job properly. It's located beneath the pump. The heat exchanger, by its very nature, can be a problem spot when it comes to heat issues.
You can also use a system temp monitor or a fluid temperature alarm to help you monitor your hydraulic system. If you cannot pinpoint the issue, then you need to have a professional take a look. Operating a hydraulic system that's running hot will definitely cause system failure. If you do it for too long, it can become a problem much larger than just replacing a single component. Contact a company like DEWCO Pumps & Equipment, Inc for more help.