Hydraulics 101: The Temperature Effect

You probably don't like the process of changing the hydraulic oil in your log splitter. It's often a messy affair, but it's necessary if you hope to continue to enjoy the convenience of having the hydraulic splitter.

You might not know it, but your actions probably contribute to the degradation of hydraulic oil in the splitter and the subsequent need for an oil change. This article discusses the effect of temperature extremes on hydraulic fluid and how your actions may be a contributing factor to the degradation of this fluid.

On The Lower Side

Low temperatures can have a highly destructive effect on hydraulic fluid. For one, when hydraulic fluids are exposed to low temperatures, they become more viscous (thicker). The increased viscosity generates an increased resistance to the flow fluid within the hydraulic system of the splitter.

If the hydraulic fluid continues to be exposed to lower temperatures, it might become too viscous to flow within the system. This leaves you with a splitter that's not well lubricated. As a result of poor lubrication, mechanical components of the hydraulic splitter will generate more friction as they operate and this accelerates their rate of wear and tear.

Hydraulic fluid is exposed to low temperatures when a splitter is used at a high altitude for extended periods of time. If you have to use the splitter in a high altitude area, shorter work cycles can protect the hydraulic fluid from constant exposure to low temperatures.

On The Higher Side

High temperatures can be even more destructive to hydraulic fluids. When hydraulic fluid is exposed to high temperature, it becomes less viscous (thinner). A less viscous fluid increases the possibility of internal fluid leakages within the hydraulic splitter.

Continued exposure to high temperatures may effect an irreversible change in the viscosity of hydraulic fluids. This often happens because the higher temperatures encourage the depletion of chemical additives used to improve the viscosity of hydraulic fluid. These additives are often referred to as Viscosity Index (VI) improvers. The oil layer in a (permanently) less viscous fluid is often less effective at preventing wear and tear on the hydraulic components of the splitter.

Hydraulic splitters are often exposed to high temperatures when they're routinely kept in non-air conditioned rooms (e.g. the basement) when outdoor temperatures are high, as they often are during the summer. If the splitter is used frequently, you might want to store it in conditioned space in between work cycles. If the splitter is to be stored on a long-term basis, you should drain out its hydraulic fluid before storage.

For more information on this topic, contact hydraulic repair services.