Contamination Control in Hydraulic Systems

Contamination Control in Hydraulic Systems

Contamination in hydraulic systems is now recognised as the most frequent cause of malfunction or failure of hydraulic equipment.

Depending on the nature, size and/or amount of contaminant, the effects can be:

  • Reduced component service life
  • Machine malfunction, mainly when operating near-maximum capacity
  • Risk of frequent breakdowns under the same conditions
  • Production rates below scheduled
  • High product scrap and defect rates

Nature of Contaminant

Contaminant can be either: Particle contaminant or the product of fluid degradation

Particle contaminant:

  • Particle contaminant can be singular by product
  • Several types of contamination can be present at the same time, i.e. metal, rubber, plastic, dirt, dust, fibre, sand, paint etc.
  • These can enter the fluid at any time after the fresh, clean fluid has been produced by the fluid manufacturer.

Fluid degradation results in:

  • Oxidation and the formation of deposits and sludge from the combined effects of high temperature, air, water and particle contaminants. Such contaminants increase viscosity, viscid deposits and clog orifices/small passageways which impair the smooth mechanical movements and eventually form sludge-like deposits.
  • Unstable emulsions of poor lubricity form when water is inadvertently emulsified with oil. Such contamination impairs the smooth mechanical movements and promotes wear.
  • Aeration or air bubbles in the fluid, at low pressures and in excess, can cause noise in pumps and valves leading to erratic or loose machine movements, resulting in premature wear and failure.

Preventative measures

Contamination affects all types of hydraulic equipment. Dirty fluids cause wear which accelerates leakage and the development of heat on a system. Temperature lowers the lubricity of hydraulic fluid and causes additional wear.

When hiring equipment from HTL, you don’t have to be concerned with fixing problems onsite or sourcing the correct solution yourself; HTL’s industry knowledge and expertise is available 24/7 to assist you. With express delivery available and our Fast Track Calibration Service, replacement equipment is sent direct to site reducing your downtime. In contrast, your equipment is being repaired or calibrated by our fully qualified Service Engineers.

For more information or for an instant quote contact us today: call +44(0)1670 700 000 or email

Related articles: