Even if a sample of lubricant looks clean to the naked eye, it may contain an abundance of microscopic particles. Such particles can include dirt, sand, metal particles, dust, and more, and there are numerous potential sources.
Luckily, you can always have a high-velocity oil flush (HVOF) performed to remove contaminating particles and keep your machinery running in prime condition. To understand why that is such an important maintenance job, read on to discover four common dangers of particle contamination.
1. Blockages and Jams
Though particles may be too small to be seen by the naked eye, many will still be unable to fit through the smaller gaps in your machinery. This means they can start to block ports and orifices, which can increase the pressure that is placed on those parts. Particles can also clog and jam moving parts — for example, it's possible for particles to lodge inside valves and cause them to lock up. Even when parts can still move, the contaminants inside will cause wear. Such issues can lead to anything from inefficient performance to complete mechanical breakdowns.
2. Abrasive Wear
Many contaminant particles are sharp and jagged, which makes them excellent at creating damage. As they go through your system, those tiny particles can cause surface fatigue and abrasive wear. Such damage will tend to occur on the microscopic level, but it can still cause serious problems over time and lead to the weakening of key parts. Eventually, even small particles can cause macroscopic damage, such as the scratching or gauging of surfaces. This tends to form a vicious circle since any small particles of metal that are worn away will themselves become contaminants.
Oxidization is one of the main causes of lubricant degradation. It's a process that can impair the properties of both the base oil and any additives, such as rust inhibitors and anti-wear agents. Particle contamination can increase the risk of oxidization since particles often attract and emulsify water. This will cause catalytic reactions with your machinery's oil and inhibit the performance of those often vital additives.
4. Noise and Vibration
When your machinery is suffering from particle contamination, it's easy to focus on specific internal issues. However, machinery suffering from particle contamination also tends to create more noise and vibration than healthy machinery. This can negatively impact your working environment, and excessive vibration can cause unexpected wear to key parts.
For more information on oil flushing, contact a professional near you.