How to Keep Hydraulic Fluid From Freezing

Hydraulic systems are very important in the operation of numerous areas of contemporary life, ranging from enormous plants that rely on hydraulics to create parts to the hydraulic system that propels the local garbage truck.

how to keep hydraulic fluid from freezing

Temperature extremes are these systems’ classic Achilles heel, despite their size and capability! Both low and high temperatures can impact the performance and efficiency of large and small hydraulic systems.

If your system is not working as planned, you may need to identify and address a temperature-related issue. It is very important to know how to keep hydraulic fluid from freezing.

A vital component of your machinery is hydraulic fluid!

Hydraulic fluid’s performance might be affected by cold or freezing conditions. If this occurs, you face the danger of ruining your expensive machinery.

What are the best methods for winterizing hydraulic oil-powered vehicles and equipment?

Freezing Point of Hydraulic Fluid

Hydraulic components can be negatively affected by temperatures much below the freezing point. Your facility’s altitude may affect the temperature threshold. 

Although the freezing point of hydraulic oil is typical -10°F, the fluid can thicken or become more viscous even at low temperatures above its freezing point. Hydraulic pumps and motors may suffer as a result of this.

Cold temperatures can also affect the rubber used in hoses and other components. Although the exact freezing temperature of rubber depends on the compound and its hardness, the rubber hits its glass point at -40°F. Crystallization and brittleness ensue. 

Cracks or tears can develop in the rubber components of the system, such as hydraulic hoses, seals, mountings, and fittings.

How to Keep Hydraulics Safe from the Cold

If your hydraulic systems aren’t adequately equipped for the cold and icy conditions, they could suffer from issues. Rubber parts such as seals, fittings, mounts, and hoses can be severely damaged when hydraulic equipment is subjected to cold temperatures.

Hydraulic machinery can work well even in the coldest months of the year, thanks to these three guidelines.

  • Frequent checking of the hydraulic fluid levels is a must

Checking the fluid’s viscosity is more important than checking the levels since a viscous fluid will not function properly. Running your system, under those circumstances, is a recipe for disaster. It is also vital to let your hydraulic equipment warm up before operation because of this increase in viscosity. The hydraulic system and the fluids it relies upon the need to warm up before being put to use, so turn the equipment on and let it idle.

  • Take time to get comfortable.

Like the human body, hydraulics need time to warm up before they are tested. The system can be damaged if the equipment is run cold without any warm-up period. It may necessitate large-scale rework. As an alternative, before using any equipment attachments, ensure the hydraulic system is fully warmed up. Half-torque the engine and engage the attachments for ten to fifteen seconds before hitting full power.

  • Rubber components should be inspected 

Rubber parts can be severely damaged by exposure to low temperatures. As a result, before using the equipment, ensure that all rubber hydraulic components are free of tears or fractures. The same holds for rubber hoses and seals, as well as mounting brackets and fittings if you’ll be working in freezing temps.

What Happens to a Hydraulic System During Cold Weather?

When a hydraulic system is subjected to freezing conditions, failures occur. Oil viscosity and cavitation increase, possibly resulting in damaged or inefficient machinery and thus increasing the likelihood of a system breakdown.

Hydraulic systems can be prepared and winterized easily by conducting fluid checks and adhering to established procedures.

Preventing fluid power systems from malfunctioning during the winter months is essential as it prevents:

  • Viscosity rises negative impact.
  • Moisture in the pipework
  • Ice accumulation
  • Excessive friction in the joints, which leads to cavitation.
  • Hydraulic pump and motor failure

Even though the freezing temperature at which hydraulic oil becomes unusable is lower than the ambient freezing point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the fluid can still grow in viscosity before it gels, resulting in performance concerns for hydraulic pumps and motors.

Keeping Things Safe and Sound in the Right Place

The best technique to safeguard machinery is to keep it enclosed, protecting the fluid systems inside.

Make a plan to preserve even heavily utilized equipment to prevent internal fluids from freezing if machinery is exposed to sub-zero temperatures.

Additional precautions should be taken to protect viscosity by storing all hydraulic fluids and oils at room temperature.

Tips for storing fluid power systems safely over the winter include the following:

  • Attachments should be stored separately, so they can be retrieved as needed.
  • The rubber parts of your vehicle should be inspected for cracks or tears and stored in an enclosed area in case you need to replace any of them.
  • If the hydraulic hoses, tires, or belts have abrasions, promptly replace them.
  • Winter damage can be prevented by storing and using protective wrapping and sleeves for hoses and components.

FAQs on Hydraulic Fluid Freezing

  • When water gets into hydraulic fluid, what happens?

Your muscles and hydraulic equipment both require “warming up” time. Ensure the carrier’s hydraulic system has warmed up before using attachments. Hydraulic system health is indicated by the carrier’s oil feeling warm when touched.

  • What is the best way to avoid freezing hydraulic lines?

If you want to keep your hydraulic hoses safe from the winter weather, store them indoors. Ensure that it is a dry and clean area. Also, remember to operate the hydraulic system about an hour before using any attachments.

  • Is it true that heated hydraulic fluid expands?

Due to pressure and temperature variations, a hydraulic oil’s volume fluctuates. As the temp rises, the oil’s density drops, increasing its volume.

  • When hydraulic oil becomes too thick, what happens?

An improper pump suction line, thick oil, or a too high pump in respect to the reservoir can contribute to low pressure. There are several reasons why hydraulic systems fail, but one is that lower pressure can heat up the oil.