Use 4 of Your 5 Senses to Troubleshoot Hydraulic Pumps

Every sense but taste plays a role in troubleshooting a hydraulic pump

Hydraulic PumpYou rely on your hydraulic equipment to be fully operational when you need it. Naturally you don’t want to wait for a hydraulic pump to actually fail before replacing it, as this can mean costly and inconvenient downtime at your business. Some operators follow a planned maintenance schedule dictating that various filters, fluids, hoses, and even major hydraulic parts be replaced at pre-set intervals. While this practice can protect against unexpected parts failures, it may also be inefficient and result in parts getting replaced while they’re still performing well. Routine inspections offer an alternative means of guarding against unexpected parts failures. Here are some tips for using 4 of your 5 senses to check for possible problems with a hydraulic pump during an inspection.


Depending on the type of application your hydraulic pump is being used in, you may be able to set up various types of instrumentation that will enable you to visually check for abnormalities. For example, you could install a pressure gauge in the pump drain line to detect any sudden surges that could indicate a problem. If a pressure transducer can be used instead and hooked up to a plotter, you’ll get a complete record of all surges. You might also consider using temperature probes to check for excessive temperatures in the pump and/or motor. If the pump isn’t easily accessible an infrared probe can be used.


Changes in the amount or type of noise created by your hydraulic pump are never a good thing. Knocking sounds may indicate loose components, while grinding sounds, particularly in a vane pump, can indicate a serious problem and imminent pump failure. It may be helpful to record your equipment’s normal noises using a tape recorder so you can have a standard to compare future noises against.


In some cases, your fluids might start to emit an odor if the pump is running too hot. Be sure to note any strange odors during your routine inspections of your hydraulic equipment.


Touching the pump housing and/or reservoir can help detect issues associated with excessive heat or vibration. Just be sure you don’t burn yourself if the system runs really hot.

If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it may soon be time to replace your pump. You can always call Bernell Hydraulics for a professional opinion as to the root cause of the change in your system’s performance. We’ll be happy to help you troubleshoot the issue, source any necessary replacement parts, and install them for you.

Posted on April 28, 2014
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