Nearly every part of an excavator is tied to the hydraulic system. If the system is not maintained, the excavator won’t give you peak productivity and may require costly repairs.
Here are six tips to keep your excavator’s hydraulic system running smoothly. If you follow these tips, you can help extend the life of your excavator.
Hydraulic System Maintenance Starts With Fluid
Your excavator’s hydraulic system runs on fluid. You should be using the correct oil to flow through your excavator to keep it working properly.
Hydraulic oil is designed to work with the system in your excavator. Additives in the hydraulic oil keep the system components clean. Additives also ensure that any water that gets into the tank is separated properly.
If you suspect that the incorrect fluid has entered the hydraulic system, it’s best practice to speak to your service technician or dealer as soon as possible to
avoid further damage to the system.
Perform Daily Maintenance
Start your workday with a machine walkaround. Check the machine’s overall condition. Look for any leaks or damaged hydraulic pipes or hoses.
“Examine your excavator’s hydraulic pipes and hoses and note if they’re well-secured to the machine,” says Aaron Kleingartner, product and dealer marketing manager. “If not, fix the mounting hardware immediately. A damaged hydraulic hose can vibrate excessively and can leak oil. Repair any sign of wear on pipes and hoses as soon as possible.”
Avoid unplanned machine downtime by working with your local dealer’s service department. Make sure your excavator’s hydraulic pipes and hoses are properly installed and maintained.
Cold Weather Warmups
If you work through winter, it’s recommended that you follow a hydraulic system warmup process. If you follow the process, your excavator’s hydraulic system will work more efficiently because the hydraulic oil flows smoothly.
Check your manual for a complete description of how to perform the warmup procedure. A simple method is to allow the hydraulic system to reach an ideal operating temperature.
“The pressure of the hydraulic system helps to increase the temperature, allowing the oil to flow through the machine more easily,” Kleingartner says.
A gradual warmup is less harmful to other machine components than if you immediately try to operate an excavator in cold weather.
Protect Hydraulic Components
Pay close attention to these critical hydraulic system components for your excavator.
- Oil cooling system
- Machine panels
- Cylinder guards
Make sure your excavator panels close and latch. If your excavator has cylinder guards, inspect them regularly and replace as needed. Contact your local dealer to secure parts to avoid unplanned downtime from a damaged cylinder.
Storing Your Excavator
If you stop working during winter, it’s important to properly prepare your excavator for storage. Refer to your Operation and Maintenance Manual for a complete list of suggested storage guidelines. Contact your local dealer if you need a copy of the manual.
“Top off fluids and drain any water from the hydraulic system before you store an excavator,” Kleingartner says. “You may have a frozen or broken pipe if the water isn’t drained from the system.
“You may want to periodically check your machines during winter. Pay particular attention to any leaks. If you find one, contact your local dealer to secure the parts to fix it. Don’t let the machine leak hydraulic fluid throughout winter.”
As you prepare to get your excavator ready for the next season, check again for any hydraulic leaks. Repair them before putting the excavator back on a jobsite.
Always wear the correct personal protection equipment (PPE) when you’re working on your excavator’s hydraulic system. It’s especially important to protect your eyes and skin.
Check your Operation and Maintenance Manual or contact your local dealer for a list of the recommended PPE.
Find more maintenance tips for construction equipment in this Cutting Edge blog post: Preventive Maintenance Tips for Heavy Construction Equipment
Examine your excavator’s hydraulic pipes and hoses and note if they’re well-secured to the machine. If not, fix the mounting hardware immediately.