top of page

Contamination Control - Going Clean

Why Control Contamination?

Experts agree that the number one enemy of a hydraulic system is fluid contamination. Consider these statistics as evidence supporting the negative effects of contaminated oil:


  • -80% of all hydraulic system failures can be attributed to contaminated hydraulic oil

  • -85% of wear is a direct result of contaminants


Premature failure and excessive wear both translate into higher operating costs not to mention unscheduled downtime and the resulting lost production. Contaminated systems are also less efficient which leads to an increase in heat, slower cycle times and less output overall.


What Is Contamination?

Simply stated, contamination is the presence of any unwanted substance in the fluid above acceptable levels. Contaminants can be classified into 2 broad categories those being chemical and particle.


Water is the most common chemical contaminant. Some sources of water could be:

  • Condensation

  • Environment

  • Make up oil


Particle contaminants are ever present and comprise a lengthy list; some examples include:

  • Dirt

  • Cloth fibers

  • Wear Particles


Sources of particle contamination are nearly unlimited; below are a few common sources:

  • Make up oil

  • Replacement components, hoses and fittings

  • Wear particles

  • Environment


How Does a System Get Contaminated?

All hydraulic systems are, or will become contaminated at some point. The level of contamination varies based on applications and environment. Contaminants come to exist in a hydraulic system in one of three ways:


  • Built In – These contaminants are part of the system and come from components, hoses and fittings.

  • Ingress – Contaminants enter a system in a variety of ways such as leaky seals and improper breathers

  • Creation – Wear is example of created contamination and heat can cause chemical contamination



Contamination Control Practices

Hydraulic systems will always have some level of contaminants present. Listed below are 4 fundamental concepts that every system owner should consider regarding a comprehensive contamination control program.


  • Exclude contaminants from ever entering a system

  • Remove contaminants before the system is damaged

  • Measure system contamination at regular intervals

  • Monitor results and continuously seek out improvements

bottom of page