3 Common Hydraulic Seal Problems And Ways To Address Them

Hydraulic seals are vital for a lot of machinery today, particularly hydraulic cylinders. They are used to block off or separate fluid in motion applications. Even though they are durable, they are not meant to last forever. Here are several common seal problems that might occur and ways to fix them. 

Improper Installation

A fairly common seal problem that is easily preventable is improper installation. Such a mistake can prematurely wear down seals and cause hydraulic cylinders to overheat. Proper installation involves knowing what hydraulic seal to use from the very start. There are many to choose from, including piston, rod, buffer, and wiper seals. 

Piston seals prevent fluid from passing the piston and ensure the motion for cylinders is correct. Wiper seals are unique in that they block containments from reaching the hydraulic system. Buffer seals are designed to protect rod seals from excessive pressure rises. Having this working knowledge helps you choose the right seal for a particular job. 


When a hydraulic seal is exposed to high temperatures on a consistent basis, it goes through a process known as hardening. Once a seal hardens, it can lose its elasticity, crack, and jeopardize the entire hydraulic system. High temperatures usually result from stroking operations that involve rapid movement. 

There are plenty of simple fixes to hardening, fortunately. For example, you could simply set lower operating temperatures for the hydraulic system. So right from the very start, the system doesn't work too hard and overheat. You can also select seals with special antioxidants that offer adequate protection, even when exposed to extreme temperatures during operation. 


If the wrong metal finish is used in conjunction with the seal, abrasions could result and break down the seal. It's important that the metal finish is not too rough or too smooth. The later problem could create insufficient lubrication and cause the hydraulic system to overheat. 

So what's the solution? It's as easy as using the right metal finish with adequate lubrication. Filters and specialty wiper seals should also be used to remove any abrasive materials within the system. Lastly, there are abrasive-resistant seals you can purchase that enable a long-lasting design.

For hydraulic systems to work in an efficient, safe manner, the seals within them need to work properly. You can ensure proper operation by installing hydraulic seals correctly and keeping up with seal maintenance. The life of your machinery depends on it.