4 Step Guide to Checking Your Factory's Hydraulic Rubber Seals for Damage

If your factory's hydraulic pistons have not been working properly, you may suspect that the rubber seals are leaking hydraulic fluid or allowing contaminants into the tube. If so, use the following four-step guide to check the hydraulic rubber seals for signs of damage that could make continued operation dangerous unless they are replaced.

Step 1: Wipe the Seals Clean

Before you begin inspecting the rubber seals, you need to be able to see them clearly. In this first step, wipe off any grease or hydraulic fluid that is covering the area. Use a clean rag dampened with water to do this.

If you find stubborn, stuck-on grease, use a small amount of degreaser that is gentle, such as the one you and your coworkers use to wash your hands. Do not use any harsh chemical solvents, as these could eat away at the rubber, causing more damage to the seals.

Step 2: Visually Inspect the Rubber 

After the seals are cleaned off, visually inspect the rubber seals. Normally, the ring should be intact with no signs of cracking or chipping.

However, if you see any cracks or areas where chunks or rubber are missing, these signs mean that the seal's integrity has been compromised. These open areas could cause a leakage of hydraulic fluid or let air into the piston shaft. To find out the extent of the damage, go on to the next step.

Step 3: Push on the Seals 

Whether or not you find visible signs of damage, this next step involves pushing and feeling the rubber seal. To do this, turn off the hydraulic system, then let the machine cool down so you do not burn yourself.

If the seal is in good shape, the rubber will bounce back when pressed on because it is still soft and supple. The surface of the seal will also be smooth with no rough areas when you rub your finger across it.

When you press down on the seal and it is damaged, however, your finger may leave an indentation. This is caused by a lack of moisture in the seal. If the rubber has become extremely dry and brittle, pieces may break off even when you apply the smallest amount of pressure.

In this case, the seals should be replaced as soon as possible. This is especially true if you find evidence of a leak, as described in the next step.

Step 4: Look for Leaking Hydraulic Fluid

This next step involves looking for fluid leaks around the seals. Even if you have only found hairline cracks, see if there is any hydraulic fluid leaking around and through the seals. If the seal is brittle and breaking, check these areas closely.

If you are unsure if any moisture you see if hydraulic fluid, wipe the seal with a rag. Then, watch for a few minutes to see if a bead or a small stream of fluid runs out from the area between the seal and metal or from the seal itself. 

Since hydraulic fluid prevents the pistons inside from creating too much friction, leaking hydraulic fluid can eventually cause the machine to burn up. It also creates a drop in pressure inside the cylinder, making the machine sluggish. If you have a hydraulic leak, replace the seals before operating the hydraulic system.

If you have discovered some of your rubber seals have been damaged. you will need to replace them to ensure that the factory's hydraulic systems continue to operate safely and properly. If you are unable to find seals to fit the system exactly, contact an industrial supplier like Accurate Products Inc. that can provide custom rubber seals to make ones for your machine.