Troubleshooting Hydraulic Cylinder ProblemsJune 6, 2022
Whether it’s a truck lifting mechanism, a hoist, crane, or another type of industrial equipment required to secure a heavy-duty load, hydraulic cylinders are an essential component of any mechanical system. A troubled hydraulic system can be a massive headache. If left unaddressed, a broken hydraulic cylinder can cost significant time in repairs and result in monetary losses due to machine downtime. However, specific troubleshooting techniques can detect and fix hydraulic cylinder problems before negatively affecting the entire hydraulic system.
Tips for Troubleshooting & Testing Hydraulic Cylinder Problems
Questions to Ask for Proper Diagnosis
The easiest and most convenient way to troubleshoot a hydraulic cylinder or hydraulic system problem is to understand the symptoms of the issue and when the trouble first began. Some general questions that you may consider asking include:
- What operation was attempted prior to the malfunction?
- Did the malfunction cause a complete lapse of performance?
- Is the hydraulic system completely inoperative?
- When was the last time hydraulic system maintenance was performed?
- Has the hydraulic system gone through any significant changes before the problem?
Identifying the Hydraulic Cylinder Problem
If you can correctly diagnose the hydraulic cylinder malfunction from the initial inspection, you will save significant time and effort and be on your way to a timely repair. However, not all hydraulic system issues are easy to spot.
It is crucial to work with your entire team to understand the intricate details of the system properly, ensuring nothing is missed. Significant time can be saved if everyone is on the same page regarding the diagnosis. Utilizing a team approach will assist in addressing the problem as quickly as possible, which equates to less downtime and significant cost savings. Potential hydraulic cylinder issues to look for include:
- Cylinder leaks
- Pressure changes
- Abnormal sounds or vibrations
- Cylinder wear
- Loss of speed
- Low viscosity
- Lack of fluid flow
- Erratic or slow operation
- Number of problematic instances
Once the problem is located with the hydraulic system, finding the cause can be addressed. It is important to remember that the problem will not always be related to the cause. There could be other issues that disguise the overarching issue that needs to be addressed.
Utilize Hydraulic System Schematics
A hydraulic schematic shows the relationship between the various parts and components of a hydraulic system, including pumps, motors, valves, manifolds, accumulators, tanks, and other parts. Properly analyzing the interactions of the system components will assist in the understanding of how the potential problem began and help in interpreting the characteristics of specific issues. Studying the schematic can also save time by helping the technician decipher which components should be initially assessed.
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