Don't Blow A Gasket: 3 Simple Steps That Will Safeguard Seals, Gears, And Bearings

Industrial seals fail for complicated reasons sometimes, but there's normally a simpler explanation for their breakdown. If you take these 3 simple preventative steps to safeguard machines, your seals and bearings will last far longer:

Be rigid about regularly scheduled oil analysis.

When you're serious about keeping your vital equipment in service, purchase the tools you need to keep a constant eye on the condition of lubricants. The chemical makeup and particle contamination present in sampled oil will give you clues about the condition of your machines. These clues can help you find problems before they shut you down for days.

If you find heavy wear particles in the oil, you should investigate possible gear or bearing failures. Early notice of these issues allows you to make plans for repairs rather than facing a sudden emergency shut-down.

Increases in the dielectric constant, water content, and changes in viscosity may indicate a seal failure that is allowing liquids to enter gear housing and other components. Replacing seals at the earliest stages of failure will save your machine and your repair budget from catastrophe, so monitor that oil like the life blood that it truly is for your equipment.

Use aluminum seals and other components designed for extremes.

In 1986, a simple O-ring failure led to disaster for the Space Shuttle Challenger. Colder weather than normal stressed out the gasket, which was not designed for use at lower temperatures. Be extra diligent in checking the specs for all of your gaskets, aluminum seals, and O-rings.

Know the operating temperatures inside the machines where components will go, but also educate yourself on the extremes in temperatures your machines may potentially face. If you lose winter heat or face unusually hotter-than-normal temperatures in a work space, don't keep a machine running until you make sure the internal components can tolerate the more frigid or scorching air temperatures.

Also make sure you have the correct types of seals for your processes. If you work in an area where there are frequent heavy wash downs or lots of dust and debris in the air, consider retrofitting lip seals with more appropriate labyrinth-style seals to protect bearings and other components.

Be very wary of refrigerants.

The wrong refrigerant or refrigerant mix can blow up machinery and possibly your plant. Wherever refrigerants are used, keep a close eye on the supply chain and the numbers.

With all of the new regulations in place, a black market has opened up for those refrigerants being phased out. Re-usable canisters are being filled with what may or may not be fluorinated refrigerants. Other unscrupulous people are dangerously mixing refrigerants. Additionally, some of the new legal refrigerants are highly flammable, and your compressors may need to be modified to handle them.

You should have an accurate, up-to-date list of the exact types of refrigerants used by every machine, know which are being phased out, and take steps to adapt or purchase new machines. You must also have refrigerant identifiers available on site to test for specific type, and you should never purchase refrigerant from an unknown, unlicensed source no matter how good a deal it seems to be.

For more tips on keeping your seals and gaskets in good shape, contact a company like Phoenix Specialty.