Causes of Corrosion in Hydraulic Systems

Blog | December 4th, 2017

Oxidation, a chemical process that’s commonly referred to as corrosion, occurs in hydraulic systems when the oxygen in the air around the equipment comes in touch with water trapped in the fluid lines. Pumps have a natural affinity for water. Even when the oil level drops low, again, there’s the water. Let’s see what other causes of corrosion we can track down, lurking there under the equipment housing.

Issues with Dissimilar Metals 

This time around, there’s no connection between the hydraulic oil, water, and the corrosion taking place on the vehicle chassis. It is two disparate metals, two touching alloys, that are inducing the problem. This is a galvanic reaction. In this instance, a small current is flowing because of a generated electrical potential. The current is imperceptible, but it will cause one of the metals to lose electrons. Lost electrons cause galvanic corrosion, a condition that breaks down metal. All that’s required for this corrosive effect to gain hold is a suitable electrolyte. Environments that are loaded with saltwater encourage galvanic reactions when dissimilar metals are in contact. Fortunately, there are special coatings and systems (sacrificial zinc anodes) that are designed to stop this metal-fatiguing action.

Aggresive Hydraulic Oil Activity 

When a heavy load generates heat in the system lifeblood, the distributing thermal energy encourages corrosion. As for low oil conditions, they also draw in humidity. Next, foreign contaminants can enter the fluid line. Again, the gear experiences corrosion. As a matter of fact, there’s a great deal of ‘knock-on’ influence at work in the equipment, probably because everything is connected. Like the arteries in a human body, those fluid-carrying channels carry corrosive deposits throughout the system. However, this corrosion connectivity problem isn’t exactly a secret. Engineers know just what action to take when oil issues spread. Check out hydraulic oil additives and their corrosion resistant properties for more on this topic. As for the rest of the chassis, superior paints and spray-on coatings stop rust.

Pair corrosion-resistant fittings with a hydraulic oil that’s formulated with a good corrosion inhibitor additive. Avoid dissimilar metals at all costs. If this latter issue is unavoidable, use detachable hoses to keep the active alloys apart. Alternatively, use a special coating or paint that’s designed to form an impenetrable shell around that metal part. As for the heat and stress produced by the hydraulic systems, any other potential corrosion sources can be identified and addressed by incorporating a scheduled preventative maintenance plan. If the ugly orange bloom is spreading, log it and have the problem promptly fixed.

Mobile Hydraulic Specialties Pty Ltd

Factory 89, 38-40 Popes Road
Keysborough, Victoria, 3173

Phone: (03) 9798-6511

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