Expert tips to keep your hydraulic equipment running during winter.

Posted on: 30 August 2016

It is no secret that there is a heavy reliance on hydraulic equipment when the snow starts to fall. Automobiles such as bulldozers are often called upon to clear accumulated snow from the road in order to make them passable. This is made possible by hydraulic equipment that is part and parcel of the snow-clearing machines. However, winter can pose a number of challenges when dealing with hydraulic tools or their attachments. The cold temperatures can interfere with hydraulic fluid and severely limit your system's efficiency. Fortunately, there are ways of keeping your hydraulic equipment more functional. If you're planning to ensure that your equipment runs smoothly in the winters, then here are some tips to keep your hydraulic machine in great operating condition.

Check the oil

Cold winter temperatures often cause the hydraulic fluid to thicken and become more viscous. This will limit its flow within the system thereby restricting its function. Before you start your engine, it's prudent to check that the oil in the hydraulic system, engine and in the transmission. You can do this by checking each dipstick. If the oil drips from the dipstick, then it's fluid enough to use. Use arctic hydraulic oil during the cold season for better performance and avoid oils diluted with kerosene. Kerosene will cause the oil to thicken considerably.

Conduct a prior warm up

Before you begin your work in earnest, keep your engine running for some time. This will build up its operating temperature and help prevent intake and exhaust valves from sticking due to cold conditions. Cycle through your machine's functions to distribute the heated oil. This is particularly important for your hydraulics attachment. Alternate between engaging and disengaging your attachment with a few seconds' interval before operating it at an actual work setting. This will warm up the oil in the hydraulic system and prevent damage to the components that are sensitive to cold.

Inspect rubber components

Low temperatures can seriously affect the rubber components of the hydraulic system. They are prone to crack and tear when subjected to stress while they are cold. Rubber seals, mounts, hydraulic hoses and fittings are among the components you should inspect before beginning your work. Maintain adequate spares to easily replace the vulnerable components in case of damage. Additionally, remember to store your machine and its attachment in an enclosed storage location to protect them from extreme cold. Doing this will also save time by reducing the warm-up time.