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5 Hints for Hydraulic Cylinder Maintenance ben lee

To ensure the smooth running of your fluid hydraulic power systems, it’s critical to schedule consistent maintenance of cylinders. Here are five hints on getting this right:


Regular inspections. Check whether the rod has any pitting, corrosion or uneven wear. Uneven wear could signal an impending disaster for the entire hydraulic system. Corrosion may indicate too much moisture either in the fluid itself or ambient moisture. It could also speed up wear on seals. Pitting can also lead to seal damage and can occur as a result of corrosion. There is plenty to watch for.


If you find that there is uneven wear on your rod, it is most likely caused by misalignment. If there is a load on one side only, it’s going to accelerate the wearing of the seals, bearing and of course, the rod itself. In almost all cases it’s possible to polish or re-chrome a rod that’s been damaged. If it’s not possible to refinish it to repair it, then a new one can be manufactured by a cylinder repair shop. Prior to reinstalling, check that the causal problem has been remedied, or you’ll find yourself needing to pass through the same process.


Cylinder rotation. If it’s critical that there is no downtime, keep a full set of cylinder spares that can be rotated regularly. You will retain fresh cylinders, even though you will be a high risk of particle contamination. When a cylinder is removed from service, inspect it and give it maintenance as required.

Once dissembled, replace seals as they are normally very affordable. You can then look for clues on how the rest of your hydraulic circuit is by inspecting the inside the cylinder interior. Look for varnish, and if you find it you know that your oil is running too hot and may need to be addressed.


A visual inspection of the piston and cap will give you an idea of whether the cylinder has trapped particles. If it’s pitted like somebody has been attacking it with an ice pick, then there’s no doubt that a piece of metal has been banging around in there for some time. If it’s reached your cylinder, then it’s already been elsewhere in the system.


Check lube oil system. If you have pneumatic cylinders, there is a need for a source of lubrication. Check whether there is enough oil in the associated reservoir. You may have a full reservoir of oil, but that doesn’t guarantee that the system is working. You may need to hook up a blow gun and a white paper towel to check. If you find oil is being squirted onto the towel, all is good. If not, then you may have a clog to sort out, or a lubricator to replace.

Not a large amount of oil needs to be introduced as a lube otherwise it can interfere with operations. A fine mist is enough to keep things moving.


Accessory service. In addition to the hydraulic cylinder being very important to service, pay attention to rod eyes, clevises, brackets and ball joints. Ensure that there is no major play in the cylinder joints from a worn clevis or pivot pin.


Keep oil clean. It’s an obvious point but still has to be made. Most hydraulic failures are caused by contaminated oil. Filter your oil! All those dirt particles like moving up and down inside a cylinder, so ensure that it’s clean as soon as it enters a cylinder for a first time.


Your filters will ideally be high efficiency and make sure they are regularly changed. If you use a pop-up indicator or a differential pressure-gauge then you’ll know when your filter needs to be de-clogged so that it doesn’t send oil down the bypass and enter your hydraulic system unfiltered.

If you have any hydraulic system questions you need answers to, drop us a line and we will see what we can do. 

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