The safety of your hydraulic hose assembly is an issue we all keep top of mind. Despite the technological advancements improving the safety of each component, fitting leaks are still a pesky problem that can have disastrous consequences.
Because the pressurized contents in the line can cause a major medical emergency, it’s important to know what not to do when you have a fitting leak.
Step 1: If you suspect it, check itDon’t: ignore the possibility of a leak. The number one thing you can do to ensure hose and fitting failure: blow off a potential leak. It’s common for a small leak to be the first sign of a bigger problem within the system.
Do: perform regular system checks and tracking the overall system performance can help you head off any problems before disaster strikes.
Step 2: Turn it offDon’t: leave the system pressurized; this can increase the risk of an explosive eruption of fluid, leading to possible injury and serious damage to the system.
Do: before you do anything, turn off the system.Remember that just because the system is depressurized doesn’t mean that everything is safe. There can still be pressure build up if any of the fluid became trapped.
Oh yeah – don’t use your hand!Most hydraulic hose assemblies are moving pressurized fluids that can reach pretty extreme temperatures. By using your hand to test for leaks you are exposing yourself to dangerous chemicals, extreme temperatures, and very high-pressure contents.
All of these elements present medical dangers that will result in the need for emergency medical care, surgical solutions, and can even be fatal if not treated right away.
Pro tip #1: Forget the fireMany leaks begin as pin-hole leaks that result in clouds of vapor gathering near the leak. These vapors can be incredibly flammable. The use of welding equipment, cutting torches, or even a simple lighter used to help you see better can cause an explosion. Taking extra precautions with an open flames or equipment that might cause a spark will help prevent an explosive outcome.
Pro tip #2: Tighter doesn’t mean betterWhile it’s true that some leaks can be attributed to a loose nut, over-tightening can be even worse.
When you torque a nut beyond sufficiently tightened, you can actually create a fitting leak and reduce the overall life of the fitting. So while your impulse may be to tighten it as much as you can, it’s a better approach to check the integrity of the fitting first.
Three “dont’s” to keep in mind:1. Don’t forget… Protect the systemOnce you start repairs on the leak, many people forget to protect the system and the components. Something as minor as dropping a part on the ground can introduce contaminants into the system. Even the smallest bit of dirt has the potential to damage the entire system. Taking extra care while making repairs can prevent bigger issues down the road.
2. Don’t… Assume It’s The FittingJust because there is fluid leaking around the fitting doesn’t mean that’s the origination point for the leak. So before you just slap a new fitting on the hose, check the entire assembly to make sure there is not a leak somewhere else in the system.
3. Don’t… Reuse The O-RingThe o-rings should always be replaced whether you are putting a reusable fitting back on or installing a new one. O-rings are easily cracked and should be replaced to ensure a tight and leak free seal.
Similar Doesn’t Mean SameNever replace a fitting with a different one, even if it’s similar. Even though you may have a longer down time while you wait for the right fitting, you will save yourself a lot of wasted time and money by using the correct parts the first time.
To fix it right means to fix it once.
Clean, Clean, Clean!When replacing a fitting, you are risking the introduction of foreign material that can destroy the integrity of your system. By cleaning the connecting ends of the fitting before putting them on you will significantly reduce the potential for dirt or metal shards to enter the system.
While leaks are not always preventable, there are things you can do to keep damage and fluid loss to a minimum. Keeping this list of what not to do on hand could just save you a lot of time and money.