Hydraulic systems can be complicated beasts, with hydraulic hose repairs one of many things you need to do to keep them in tip-top shape. One of the more common causes of leaks in hydraulic systems are the fittings, but many people assume that replacing the fitting can solve the problem. Sometimes, the fitting leakage is a symptom rather than a cause.
If you handle your hydraulic system maintenance yourself, then consider this content a helping hand. Here are a few helpful tips for repairing your hydraulic fitting leaks safely and effectively.
Don’t Ignore the Leak
When you’re busy and don’t have time for lost production, you may decide you would prefer to ignore a hydraulic leak for the time being instead of addressing it. After all, it’s small, so surely it doesn’t matter? It does.
A small leak can indicate that a bigger problem is on the horizon. What’s more, if you don’t address a small problem now, it can turn into one that costs even more downtime than the smaller one might have.
The size of the problem is the tip of the iceberg. If hydraulic fluid can leak out, then what can get in? Contamination can cost thousands of dollars in repairs if you let it get out of control.
Put Safety First
When you work with hydraulic hose repairs and other problems every day, it’s easy to get complacent. You know your machine inside and out, and even dangerous components don’t seem all that dangerous after all. But they are.
Before you start to repair your hydraulic fitting leak, sit down and think about the task at hand. Your head must be clear and fully in the job. The first thing to think about is your hands. Never seek out a leak using your hands – even if it’s only around the fitting.
Pressurised fluid in a hydraulic hose is hot and, of course, pressurised. Even if you’re wearing gloves, contact with a pressured leak can cause a needle injury which may not feel painful but can end up being life-threatening.
Instead of using your hands to locate a leak, use a piece of wood or even cardboard. This method is far safer.
Along the same safety lines, you should also be careful when carrying your hydraulic fitting leak repair out around fire. Even lighting up a cigarette around a hydraulic leak can cause an explosion. Don’t weld, light smokes, or use a cutting torch. Use a flashlight if you need to take a closer look, and smoke on your break and away from your machine.
Remember to Depressurise your Hydraulic System
Whether you’re carrying out hydraulic hose repairs or a fitting leak repair, you need to make sure you depressurise your entire hydraulic system. If you don’t, you are putting yourself and workmates at risk of an eruption or explosion of hydraulic fluid.
Start by turning your machine off. Doing so doesn’t release trapped fluid or pressure entirely, but you can then release the remainder before you carry on with the repair task.
When you carry out any hydraulic system repairs – be it a fitting or hydraulic hose repairs, you probably don’t spare much thought for your surroundings. Your goal is to fix the problem then get on with your day. However, you need to make sure your working environment is clean before you open up your hydraulic system.
Make sure there is no dirt, grease, debris, or other grime present, and create a clean area to put parts to stop them from getting dirty. Once you open the system, use lint-free and non-shredding rags to clean parts and clean the connecting ends thoroughly. Contamination can be costly, so avoid it at all costs.
Identify the Source of the Problem
A hydraulic fitting can cause leaks, but so can many other things in a hydraulic system, including the hose. Before you begin the repair process on something that might not be the problem, verify that it is. Follow the leak’s trail. If hydraulic fluid is in other areas other than the fitting, then it may not be the problem at all.
Use the Right Parts
We established earlier that downtime could be expensive for any industry, so the sooner you’re back up and running, the better. While that’s true, it’s crucial not to take shortcuts. If you can’t get the correct fitting for your hydraulic system quickly enough, it’s tempting to use one that’s near enough. That can cause even more problems, so as much as it hurts, wait until the correct part arrives.
You then need to fit new O-rings which are tight and leak-free, then make sure you don’t overtighten the fitting.
A hydraulic fitting leak is not something anyone wants to have to deal with when they’re busy. However, it’s something you must deal with – regardless of your schedule. If you leave a leak to its own devices, it can cause a whole host of new problems. Choose the correct parts, identify the problem, and understand how to keep yourself, your machinery, and others safe. You’ll be back to work in no time.