Troubleshooting Leaks in a Hydraulic System

Pressure testing is a helpful step in locating leaks and determining their cause.

TroubleshootingWith fluid being the lifeblood of your hydraulic system, naturally a leak has the potential to leave your equipment dead in the water. Even a minor leak can begin to affect performance and may create significant maintenance costs in terms of extra wear and tear on various parts and of course more frequent fluid top offs and replacements.

Common Ways of Noticing a Leak

Depending on what parts of your hydraulic system are leaking, you may first notice the problem in one of three ways:

  • Dipping Fluid Levels: If you are vigilant about checking your fluids frequently, you may notice levels dropping slowly or rapidly. In either case, this lost fluid must be going somewhere so you must have a leak.
  • Visible Leaks: Eventually the lost fluid may make its way out of the equipment housing to the point where you may actually see evidence of drips or puddles beneath the equipment. You may also be able to see wet spots on various hydraulic components or at joints within the system.
  • Pressure Drops: Sometimes a system with a leak will be unable to maintain pressure under certain conditions, so if you are experiencing unexplained pressure drops in the system a leak could be one possible cause.

Role of Pressure Testing

There are many different problems that could cause a hydraulic component to leak. With different components being affected in different ways by pressure, pressure testing can be a helpful means for identifying the location and nature of certain leaks.

  • High Pressure Leaks: When a hydraulic system holds under low pressure but leaks under high pressure, it is a sign that something is being forced open by that high pressure. For example, you might have a faulty valve or connector that can’t hold itself closed under high pressure.
  • Low Pressure Leaks: If your system is leaking under high pressure but does not leak when under low pressure or at rest, the culprit may be a seal that has become shredded, has a molding defect, has a poor finish, or has been compromised by contamination. Basically what is happening is the extra pressure is compressing the seal so that it fits properly, but when the pressure is released, the seal leaks.

Come to Bernell Hydraulics for Repairs

At Bernell Hydraulics, we can help banish leaks from your hydraulic equipment. We offer pressure testing as well as other diagnostic techniques to help correctly identify the problem so we can provide the necessary repair.