Topping up the hydraulic reservoir is a vital piece of routine maintenance, because – if it is not done correctly – the ramifications are severe. A sure sign of a leaking system is one that requires make-up fluid regularly. Identifying where the system is leaking and repairing it is essential, to ensure that the system runs smoothly.
Why Is The Fluid Level Important?
When there is a fluid deficit in the system, the pump can start whining and aerating the fluid and risking air contamination. This might not happen to mobile hydraulic systems with smaller reservoirs, although a low level of fluid will cause these systems to overheat, due to inadequate cooling. Bear in mind that the reservoir capacity cannot exceed the pump’s GPM flow rating. If this capacity is reduced with a fluid deficit, it will result in increased circulation of fluid throughout the system. The fluid will then accumulate extra heat.
When this happens, typically, fluid will flood the pump inlet, so long as the pump is positioned beneath the reservoir. If noise from the pump suggests that aeration is occurring, the system has no fluid left and should be switched off straight away. This will stop the pump from overheating.
If the pump is positioned over the reservoir, air can enter the fluid while the level falls beneath the inlet. This enables air to get into the pump, circulate throughout the system with the fluid, then aerate the fluid inside the reservoir. This will produce reservoir foam and make the pump whine. Also, the cylinder operation will become jerky and spongy. In this situation, continuing to use the system will harm the pump and be hazardous to operators.
How To Check Fluid Levels
Most of the time, a machine’s fluid level is recorded at operating temperature, using a dipstick or sight gauge. Avoid filling up a cold machine completely. Doing this will cause the oil to expand and overfill the machine once it heats up. Only when the machine has become warmer should enough fluid be added to make it full.
It is a constant challenge to add fluid, without also adding contamination and dirt to a system. Sadly, when new fluid is added to a system, it frequently surpasses the system’s acceptable contamination level. A filter should be used to screen fluid pumped into the reservoir. Filter carts are produced by the majority of filter manufacturers for this very purpose. To reduce the risk of contamination, fluid containers should be opened only when the fluid is about to be used. Refrain from storing containers that are not completely full, to stop oil source contamination.
It is important to add the right quantities of the correct fluid, because lots of fluids are incompatible with one another. The wrong fluids can destroy a system by clashing with the oil, or making the seals soft. This can cause a machine to malfunction and require expensive repairs. All machine manufacturers recommend the best type of hydraulic oil to use. This will be stated in the instruction manual. Read the manual prior to adding any oil, to ensure no errors are made in this regard. It is unwise to mix oils, so stick with a single type and brand of oil. Be mindful that using oil that is not recommended by the machine manufacturer will invalidate most warranties.
Filling The Reservoir
Prior to filling up the reservoir, use a lint-free cloth to clean the fill cap. Double-check that the right fluid is being used. Avoid pouring fluid from unlabelled oil containers. Examine the relief breather and filler screen. Always clean any funnels before use. Funnels made from seamless plastic tend to gather fewer contaminants and dirt than metallic funnels. Using the fill cap, just enough oil should be poured to bring the reservoir’s level up to full capacity. Lastly, the fill cap should be replaced, and a lint-free cloth can be used to wipe away any oil drips from the machine.
Our technical team at Hydrastar can troubleshoot technical issues with hydraulic equipment and find efficient design solutions for specific requirements. Using our hydraulic design service can help you reduce downtime by keeping maintenance issues to a minimum, and keep your production lines running efficiently.
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