4 Reasons For Hydraulic Seal Failure

Hydraulic seals are used to seal liquid in or out of a mechanical application that is regularly in motion. The seal's presence is important because without the maintenance of an appropriate amount of pressure, the contained liquid may not be properly transferred throughout the application.

Seals can be fabricated from many different substances, such as polyurethane or rubber. They tend to be effective when used properly. However, there are instances in which a hydraulic seal may fail due to issues that could be avoided. Here are a few of them:

Wrong Installation

Hydraulic seals that are improperly installed are more likely to fail. Seals are sometimes installed backwards or upside down. In addition, a seal that is too large or too small may not be able to form a tight enough seal for the application.

Also, a hydraulic seal that becomes covered with dirt or oil during its installation may not form a tight seal. Care should also be observed to ensure that a seal is not overly compressed by the seal gland during installation.

Too Much Heat

Heat can cause the degradation of hydraulic seals. Seals that become brittle due to exposure to high temperatures or that melt cannot effectively contain the liquid and pressure of an application. To ensure that hydraulic seals have not been damaged by heat, the seals should be regularly inspected.

In addition, to help ensure that the material of a hydraulic seal is suitable for a high-temperature application, industrial suppliers should be advised of how the seals will be used. Often, heat-resistant hydraulic seals are available for instances in which the seals will be exposed to unusually high levels of heat.


As large amounts of liquid may flow through an area that is contained using hydraulic seal mechanisms, the seals are likely to be exposed to some contaminants. Dirt and debris may be introduced from external sources, and other contaminants, such as tiny pieces of metal, may already be present inside the application. Regardless of the origin of the contaminants, a seal that is regularly exposed to contamination may exacerbate the problem by becoming less effective at preventing the entry of additional contaminants.

Contamination can sometimes be controlled by simply installing a clean seal. If contaminants touch a seal during installation, the seal should be wiped clean before installation is complete.

Exposure to Corrosive Chemicals

The material of a hydraulic seal should be matched to the type of chemicals to which the seal will be exposed. If a chemical reacts with the seal material, a hydraulic seal may quickly wear away.

To ensure that an appropriate seal is purchased for your hydraulic applications, consult with an industrial supplier in your area.