Many hydraulic systems leak. In fact, some businesses can and do waste vast amounts of money by not being serious about tracking down and rectifying fluid leakages on their machines. As with any task, it’s critical that you start at the beginning. We recommend to our clients that they keep a record of how much oil is going into any system, and how much oil comes out when it’s time to do a swap out. If you put in a certain number of litres, but you’re getting less out, you know that it must have gone somewhere – whether it’s an internal or external leak. However, these measurements will need to be scheduled into your top-off process or they are quite unlikely to happen. Those that do perform this task are most often very surprised about the amount of fluid that is going missing from their hydraulic system and the associated financial cost of it. One of the most common places to find a leak is around the rams, motors and pump. It’s down to the high pressure and the constant movement in this area. With pressure being anywhere in the range of 1000 PSI and 5000 PSI, it’s not surprising that some fluid gets pushed out of the system. If looking for symptoms, the first thing that operators will notice is a lack of power or force. Alternatively, they notice a drip or a leak. If this is coming from seals, it’s a highly skilled job to replace hydraulic seals. Not only is it necessary to have familiarity with the system in question, but specialist tools are required to perform the job. Components are sensitive to damage due to close tolerances or if the wrong tool is applied or through improper handling. Unfortunately, there is an associated downtime with fixing leaks. If leaks are left to get out of hand, then it can even get to the point where it’s going to be cheaper to take the machine out of service and get a specialist in to fix the leaks rather than to continue to keep topping up the fluid level. We know of a business that had a terrible leakage issue. They looked into how much it would cost to repair including the hire of the specialist and parts and found that £20,000 was a lot to stomach. However, when they looked into how much their oil was costing to replace on a weekly basis, it was around £1000. This meant that over a period of time, they would reach the point where it would be far cheaper to fix the leaks rather than to continue to pay out for the replacement fluid week after week. What we’ve put here though is actually a simplified interpretation of the costs involved. Not only is there the cost of the oil, but there is also the associated cost of safety risks, proper clean up and disposal of the fluid. There is also the issue that where oil can exit, it’s also possible for contamination to enter. There is then the cost of the filters to remove those contaminants. If you want to eliminate risks, here is a checklist of the approaches to take: · Design them out. Remove connectors as that is where the leak is coming from. Do what you can to install integrated hydraulic circuits. · Replace connectors. Select the more superior connection types that do not have threads, and therefore do not have leak paths. · Tighten them. Quite often the torque is incorrect and this means improper contact. · Eliminate vibration. Vibration can affect connector torque. · Run the machine cool. Hydraulic fluid needs to be maintained at reasonable levels of temperature to avoid seal damage.