Combating Premature Seal Damage and Deterioration on Hydraulic Cylinder

9 December 2016
 Categories: , Blog

When buying spare parts for the hydraulic cylinders on your pneumatic equipment, the vendor or product packaging may tell you how long the seal will last. However, this is not always the case when you fit the seals in the hydraulic cylinders and start using them on the site. So what causes the premature wear of seals? Excessive fluid temperature in the hydraulic system and improper maintenance of the system can impart too much pressure, leading to their premature deterioration. Here are some important things you must know for you to combat the premature deterioration of hydraulic cylinder seals:

Invest in Heat Exchangers

Go over the manufacturer's manual to find out if your hydraulic cylinders are fitted with heat exchangers. If not, which is likely to be the case for a majority of old model machines, you can invest in aftermarket heat exchangers and hire a professional to fit them in the hydraulic cylinders. Basically, heat exchangers are portable devices that transfer heat from one material medium to the other. They are a reliable means of ensuring that the heat generated in the hydraulic cylinders is dissipated from the system. This will prevent excessive fluid temperature and maximise the durability of your seals.

Note that a small rise in temperature, by around twenty degrees Fahrenheit, is enough to cut down the life of your seals by an estimated one-half. Thankfully, heat exchangers will keep the fluid temperature well below a desired one hundred and fifty degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius).

Choose the Right Seal Material

Another thing that may lead to premature deterioration of seals is the lack of compatibility between the material used to make the seal and the fluid in the hydraulic cylinder. By matching the seal material and the fluid, you optimise the performance of the seal because it can stand up to the corrosive effects of the fluid. Some material alternatives at your disposal are:


Nitrile is widely used to make hydraulic cylinder seals. It overall resistance to high temperatures is good especially for hydraulic cylinders with petroleum oils, fire-resistant fluids and oils. However, its performance is dismal when it is subjected to fluids with phosphate esters.  


Fluoroelastomer is often costlier than nitrile, but it has the added advantage of a longer life, especially for machines whose fluid temperatures surpass the one hundred and fifty Fahrenheit mark. It can also be used in phosphate ester based fluids.


Polyurethane seals demonstrate good resistance to abrasion when exposed to fuel, silicate esters and petroleum oil. However, it deteriorates very rapidly when your cylinder is contaminated by hot water.