Running a production operation takes a lot of your time and tons of commitment. On any given day, you are likely being pulled in a dozen different directions—managing a team, delegating tasks, authorizing orders and much more. So it’s not surprising that some things get pushed to the side for later attention or are accidentally overlooked. A hydraulic leak can fall into either category, but it’s a problem that requires swift action to prevent further damage to machines and high repair costs.
The thing about hydraulic leaks is that it can be a challenge finding the source of the oil leak. There will be a growing puddle of oil on the ground below the machine in question, yet you can’t seem to pinpoint which pipe or hose the leak is originating from. With everything all wet and oily and no obvious starting point for the leak, what can you do?
Here’s how learning the right skills and practicing preventative hydraulic maintenance in Minnesota can help locate leaks in your hydraulic system.
Let’s say you’re either a hydraulic equipment user or a worker at a professional hydraulic repair company. The first thing you’d do to find the leak is to visually scan the machine and surrounding areas for oil and anything that appears to be out of place. The machine’s oil level indicator will be low, but unable to show you the location of the leak.
Start by taking fluorescent oil dye and put it into the reservoir. Most companies that manufacture these types of dyes make them for locating refrigerant leaks in coolant lines, but some are safe to use in hydraulic oil—check the label or talk to the manufacturer before using in a hydraulic system. On average, you’ll need one ounce of dye for every four gallons of oil.
Watch the dye and it will seem like nothing is happening; however, the oil will glow a bright orange color under ultraviolet light. This is easiest to see when wearing filtered goggles, because they enhance the visibility of fluorescent materials. Most any ultraviolet light source, like an ultraviolet lamp or a UV flashlight, will help you see the dye doing its job.
For an easier time assessing the oil and dye, and to get the best visual, it’s recommended that you use both the filtered goggles and an ultraviolet light in your hunt to locate the leak. A handheld UV light allows for easy maneuvering as you look around the hydraulic machine’s lines, pipes and hoses with the goal of finding where the oil is escaping from. You should also have rags on hand to wipe oil off of fittings so you can see better and ensure you can correctly identify the origin of the leak.
After repairs have been made, clean the entire area affected by the leak with a solvent to remove oil and dyed oil. Check everything again with a UV light and goggles.
If you are in need of hydraulic system repairs or hydraulic maintenance in Minnesota, don’t hesitate to call the experts at M & M Hydraulic Company!