What is Hydraulic Fluid Contamination?

  • Editorial Team
  • Cranes
  • 26 September 2022

If foreign particles like dirt, debris or moisture enter your equipment’s hydraulic fluid, they will contaminate it. If the hydraulic fluid of your equipment is contaminated it can severely damage the hydraulic system of the machine. According to reports over 75% of hydraulic system failures are due to excessive contamination of the hydraulic fluid. If the hydraulic system of a machine is contaminated it results in decreased efficiency and the machine eventually requires expensive repairs. System failures are quite common when hydraulic contamination issues arise, in order to be able to spot them you need to know about the different types of hydraulic fluid contaminations.

Different types of Hydraulic fluid contamination

Degradation is a natural consequence of hydraulic fluid contamination; it limits the ability of the fluid to properly lubricate the components of the hydraulic system. If the hydraulic fluid cannot protect the system’s components, the equipment’s performance is compromised. The following are a few different types of hydraulic fluid contaminations that you need to be on the look out for.

Abrasive particulate contamination

If your hydraulic fluid is contaminated with sand, dirt or metal flakes you are dealing with abrasive particulate contamination.  If your machine’s hydraulic fluid is contaminated by these types of particulates you might have to deal with problems like hydraulic pumps failure or even a failure of motors. With this type of contamination there is also the added risk of cavitation. Even small vapour filled cavities might form due to particulate contamination of the hydraulic fluid.

Non abrasive particle contamination

If things like shredded elastomeric seals or chemical by-products end up contaminating the hydraulic fluid of a system it would be called non abrasive particle contamination. These contaminants are also just as damaging to the hydraulic system of a machine as abrasive contaminants. Non abrasive particle contamination can end up clogging different parts of the system and can cause the valves to get stuck. If that happens you will have trouble controlling flow and pressure. The chances of cavitation also increase due to non abrasive particle contamination.

Moisture contamination

If the additives present in your equipment’s hydraulic fluid react with moisture it can cause chemical reactions. These chemical reactions can be problematic and can cause issues like corrosion or affect the elasticity and performance of the hydraulic fluid. If during pressure changes there is water trapped in your system’s hydraulic fluid, the likelihood of cavitation also increases.

Before you start working with hydraulic truck cranes or excavators, make sure to learn everything you need to know about properly maintaining the equipment. Make sure to be on the look out for any signs of hydraulic fluid contamination before it can cause corrosion. If your hydraulic fluid develops a thick sludge or silt, your problem will become a lot more serious and expensive.