Using the wrong materials for any application leads to lost profits, whether from revenue that’s not made or from having to deal with customer issues. If you combine the wrong materials or wrong process with your hydraulic seals, at first you’ll think that it’s normal wear and tear. However, if you’re having to replace your seals on a constant basis, you’ll start to notice a trend that needs to be dealt with.

Here are seven reasons why seals end up causing more problems than they should.

1. Wear and Tear

Hydraulic seals aren’t usually meant to last forever. They need to be checked periodically because even short lapses in care cause them to start to break down. Once that process begins, it’s a short road to serious issues with your hydraulic cylinders.

Your seals could easily be broken down by excessive lateral loads. Seals need to be kept lubricated the more pressure you put on them.

The wear on the dynamic face of your seals could end up leading them to need to be replaced. You’ll find them considerably damaged after persistent pressure on the seal lip.

Replace all of your seals at the same time if you notice a problem.

2. Beware of Hardening

Your seals can easily become too hard when you expose them to excess temperatures. High temperatures change the makeup of seals as they heat the fluid around them and the seal itself.

If your fluid temperatures are climbing or if you’re putting a lot of friction due to fast stroking of the cylinders, the conditions make for a harder seal. Seals need a certain level of elasticity to be able to keep air, liquid, and debris out. Hard seals are likely to crack as they harden and dry out, leading to seal failure and even breakage.

3. Bad Installation

It’s not uncommon for a seal to be installed a little bit off. Proper installation is vital to the lifespan of your seal since there’s so much precision engineering involved in your system. Whether hydraulic, pneumatic, or electromechanical, if any element is even slightly off, it’s going to cause a serious issue.

If you install your seal incorrectly, it can let in dust and debris. Your system and any fluid in it could become contaminated and end up ruining your work or even damaging the system.

Make sure you’ve got the correct size when you’re deciding on a seal. Choose a seal prior to the build ensures that every element of the design is accounted for. You need a proper seal to make sure everything runs smoothly and you don’t end up with any costly repairs.

4. Watch For Contamination

Your hydraulic system needs to have space for air in order to move smoothly and efficiently. However, that air could make space for flotsam and jetsam to contaminate your motor.

If anything gets attached to the piston, it’s going to end up on your seal. That contamination, if organic, could turn into something bad for your system. If it’s merely an abrasive piece of solid material, it’s going to dirty your seal and make it hard to keep contaminants out.

These things get out of hand if you don’t keep the system clear, so be careful to protect your system from any kind of contamination that could end up in it.

5. Scarring Is Dangerous

The way that elements are designed to fit together is important to how well the process of your mechanical system runs. If you use a process that’s too rough on your seal, it’ll be scarred and damaged. Even an improperly installed tool is going to cause problems in the lip of your seal.

Seal efficiency is important to keep the system running smoothly. It’s also vital to ensure that you keep foreign elements out of your fluid. If anything starts floating around your hydraulic fluid, you’ll end up with with a system filled with inefficiencies or even one that breaks down.

6. Watch For Fracturing

If your seal ends up fractured, you’ll find burns, long cracks, and even a snapped off seal. If the dynamic side of the seal ends up being fractured, that means you’ve got to regulate your system.

One of the most common reasons for this kind of breakage is when there’s excessive back pressure on a seal. High-pressure shocks and spikes put undue stress on these seals.

If you use low-grade materials in manufacturing, you’ll find it’s more common to end up with this problem. Fracturing during the manufacturing process is going to cause you to waste materials and even damage your mechanism.

7. Chemical Erosion is an Issue

If your seal gets exposed to material that’s corrosive or that it reacts badly to, you’ll end up with an eroded seal. If your seal starts to erode, then you’ll have trouble keeping your fluid clean. If the seal material chosen for the application doesn’t vibe with the material you’re lubricating with or that you’re building with, you need to find another material.

Materials that aren’t compatible with the system lead to chemical attacks on your seal elements. If the seal’s lip loses its interface, the seal could swell or shrink, leading to more friction or the introduction of contaminants.

If you’ve noticed that your seal is discolored, you’re probably dealing with chemical erosion. Even if it doesn’t start to erode, you’re going to have to keep your seal free of chemicals.

Hydraulic Seals are Supposed to Help You

If you find that your hydraulic seals are causing you headaches instead of saving you from them, then you’re using the wrong kind of material. Otherwise, you’re implementing your system wrong. Either way, you’re making life hard for no reason other than because you didn’t do your research.

If you’re in the market for a new pump or need to get to know your current one better, check out our guide to find out what you should know.