It’s hard to believe winter’s almost upon us. With cold weather just around the corner, now’s the time to pay attention to your hydraulic equipment and prepare it for freezing temperatures.
Regardless of what kind of hydraulic equipment you use, if you have hydraulic machines that operate outside or in unheated buildings all winter long, a little pre-season maintenance will go a long way in preventing cold-weather disasters that can cause serious damage and sideline your equipment.
Like many liquids, lubricants and hydraulic fluids can thicken in cold temperatures. Instead of flowing easily through your systems, these liquids can turn to sludge that barely moves. In technical terms, this increased viscosity can result in high fluid and mechanical friction and prevent machine surfaces from being lubricated. You know what that means. Parts overheat, seize up, and stop working. Ouch.
High oil viscosity can starve hydraulic pumps so that they work improperly. It can cause a drop in the oil’s static pressure because the pump’s working too hard trying to suck fluid through the inlet. This reduction in pressure causes bubbles to form that implode on the high-pressure side of the pump parts, resulting in equipment vibration and increased wear. As you might imagine, none of this is good – for your equipment or your checkbook.
Fortunately, there’s something you can do about this before you’re faced with diminished performance and the risk of equipment damage and even personnel injury or death from equipment malfunction or failure.
A preventative hydraulic equipment maintenance program can keep your equipment in top shape, acting as an insurance policy against cold weather equipment disasters. By having your hydraulic machinery regularly serviced and all fluids kept clean and at the proper viscosity based on the manufacturer’s published safe temperature thresholds, you can operate worry-free all winter. In some situations and conditions, cold-weather preparation may include the installation or servicing of hydraulic equipment heaters to keep your machines at the proper temperature to prevent hydraulic fluids and lubricants from congealing.
New England winters are tough enough without causing your hydraulic equipment to work harder than necessary. Treat it right with some early cold-weather maintenance and you can be assured of topnotch performance all winter long.