January 12, 2024

Knowing When to Change Your Hydraulic Fluid Filter

Fluid contamination is the most common cause of failure in hydraulic systems, and the chances of contamination or other problems increase if you don’t have an effective plan for checking and changing your hydraulic filters. The best approach is to be proactive and to make sure you understand what’s happening inside your system.

What Happens When Hydraulic Filters Get Clogged?

Hydraulic filters protect your systems by catching contaminants and preventing their continued circulation. The buildup of material in the filters can eventually block the passage of fluids. Here are a few common scenarios:

  • If the system has a bypass valve, fluid will continue to circulate but it will not be filtered. As a result, contaminants in the fluid may damage interior surfaces.
  • If there is no bypass valve, pressure will continue to build and the filter may rupture or unload — contaminating the system and requiring repairs.
  • If fluid cannot be diverted to a bypass valve and the filter doesn’t rupture or unload, the resulting buildup of pressure and fluid can damage other parts of the system.

When Is the Right Time to Change Hydraulic Filters?

The loss of time and money caused by clogged hydraulic fluid filters might encourage you to change the filters more frequently than necessary as a precaution. However, that approach means you’re spending more money on maintenance than you have to and keeping equipment offline more often than it needs to be.

Manufacturers suggest regular filter changes based on service hours. While this guidance is useful, it may not always be accurate. Your filters can last for more or less time than expected based on how you use your machines, whether you use only manufacturer-recommended equipment, and other factors.

Instead of relying on time-based guidance, the better option is to track the performance of your systems and use that information to change your filters when necessary.

Clog Prevention and Maintenance

Filters should be changed when they are 80% full — almost at capacity, but before the system backs up or reroutes the flow of fluids to the bypass valve. Early clogged hydraulic filter symptoms include a drop in pressure on the filter’s downstream side, as more material builds up and prevents fluid from passing through at the same volume. You can use indicators to monitor pressure and send alerts when it drops below a certain level as a signal that the fluid filters should be changed.

Modern technology also allows predictive maintenance, which involves installing sensors that feed information to a computer program. The program will analyze the data and, over time, become more accurate at predicting the need for replacement. Setting up a predictive maintenance system requires an upfront expenditure. In the long term, though, you’ll spend less money on unnecessary filter changes or repairs for damage caused by clogged filters.

Contact Chase Filters & Components

If you’d like to learn more about the best approach to monitoring and changing your hydraulic fluid filters, contact Chase Filters & Components today. We can provide the advice and equipment you need to save money and safeguard your equipment.

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