Seal failure can be catastrophic, and in some industries cost millions of dollars in unexpected downtime. There are many conditions that lead to seal failure, and an accurate analysis is critical to eliminating future problems. So we’ve identified five of the most common issues below. For a detailed review of seal failure, we invite you to download the free System Seals Seal failure Handbook here.

 

Abrasion

 

1. Abrasion

Abrasion is accelerated seal wear by outside influences. Some factors include surface finish that’s too rough, a damaged sliding surface, insufficient lubrication or contamination. To maximize seal performance and durability, System Seals recommends the following finishing values for hydraulic seals:

Abrasion Chart

 

 

Ext1

2. Extrusion
Extrusion is seal damage caused by the gap between the sliding surface and the housing. Excessive gaps allow the seal to deform under pressure, causing material to creep out or break. Changing the seal material or operating pressures can help prevent extrusion, as well back-up rings and reinforced materials.

gap

Contamination

3. Contamination

Sealing components can be damaged by solid particles contaminating internal operations. This includes a dirty assembly area from clogged filters, dirty oil, metal particles or poor wiper performance. Keeping the internal components free from contaminants is essential to top performance. 

 

Heat damage

4. Heat Damage

Excessive temperatures can harden elastomers and cause permanent deformation, discoloration, cracking and material break off. Additional heat can come from high-speed operation, hot oil and environmental conditions. Be sure to use the correct materials and seal design in high-temperature conditions.   

 

Fluid Incompatibility

 

5. Fluid Incompatibility

Certain fluids can be absorbed into some seal materials and cause the seal to deform and swell. Water exposure and water-based fluids at elevated temperatures can also breakdown certain materials. Be sure that your seals are fully compatible with all fluids that your seals may encounter.  

System Seals is an international research-based seal manufacturer that works in close collaboration with OEMs and maintenance-and-repair customers. The company’s Cleveland-based engineers use state-of-the-art testing and design tools such as finite element analysis to identify and overcome weaknesses in stock seals, as they identify how multiple seals can be optimized together within a system. For more information visit  systemseals.com.