18 Jan 2024

Essential winter maintenance tips for hydraulic systems

winter maintenance tips

During wintertime, it’s crucial to think about the problems that might arise owing to the effect of cold temperatures on hydraulic systems.
This month’s post will delve into the challenges of cold weather, with practical tips for preparing hydraulic systems for winter.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the impact of cold temperatures on fluid power systems, discussing potential issues and offering valuable solutions to ensure the continued efficiency and reliability of hydraulic systems throughout the winter months.

Understanding cold weather challenges

When exposed to low temperatures, hydraulic systems face a number of challenges, starting with increased oil viscosity and cavitation.
These can lead to damaged or inefficient machinery, increasing the risk of system failure.

Taking a few simple measures to winterise fluid systems can save you from having to make a lot of complex repairs and replacements.
First, fluid viscosity should be carefully considered and fluid checks performed; next, equipment should be prepared before use; and finally, fluids, equipment, and components should be stored properly. Adopting these measures will ensure that your hydraulic systems can continue to run smoothly throughout the winter months.

Winterisation of hydraulic systems is essential to

  • Prevent damage owing to increased viscosity
  • Avoid ice formation
  • Prevent cavitation problems and lack of lubrication
  • Preserve the functionality of the hydraulic components, such as the hydraulic pump, hydraulic hoses, seals, fasteners, fittings and other rubber components

Viscosity and fluid checks

To tackle the problems that come with cold weather, it’s important to consider fluid viscosity.
Using fluid with the right viscosity for your specific application can help to protect equipment from the effects of friction, abrasion and adhesive wear.
The wrong viscosity can have the opposite effect.
In fact, it must be kept in mind that lower temperatures increase the viscosity of the hydraulic fluid, and that high oil viscosity can cause pump starvation, cavitation and a lack of lubrication.
For this reason, it is important to select hydraulic fluids with a high viscosity index (VI) to limit viscosity variation as much as possible.
It is also very important check fluid levels regularly and refill as necessary.

Equipment preparation

In addition to checking that the viscosity of the fluid is appropriate for the expected temperatures, it’s important to properly warm up equipment to ensure that the hydraulic system functions well during the cold months.
For optimal cold weather performance, run the hydraulic pump or use a hydraulic tank heater before operation to achieve proper system lubrication.

Proper storage practices

Keeping equipment in a closed facility is the most effective way to protect the exterior of a machine, and this is also vital for a keeping fluid system protected. Internal fluids can freeze if machinery is exposed to sub-zero temperatures, so make appropriate plans for storing even heavily used equipment. Further, make sure you have a room-temperature storage area for all your hydraulic oils and fluids to protect their properties and maintain their viscosity.

Other tips for winter storage to protect fluid power systems:

  • Remove attachment parts and store them separately
  • Inspect rubber components for cracks and tears
  • Store spare parts (seals, rubber mounts, replacement elements and fittings) in a closed container
  • Replace damaged hydraulic hoses, tyres, or belts

Preventing damage or failure in hydraulic systems during winter is achievable with comprehensive cold weather maintenance.
By making informed viscosity choices, warming up equipment, and adopting proper storage practices, you’ll ensure that your hydraulic systems operate without problems through the winter and into spring. Cold temperatures don’t have to translate into system issues when proactive measures are in place.

Do you need spare parts to maintain your equipment properly during the winter months?

For the maintenance of your hydraulic systems during the cold season, UFI Filters Hydraulics is here to help.
Explore our complete range of filters, elements, spare parts and accessories, and contact our sales team to make sure your filter system is ready for winter.