November 22, 2021

The Main Factors in Hydraulic Pump Failure and What You Can Do About Them

The Main Factors in Hydraulic Pump Failure and What You Can Do About Them

Hydraulic pumps are essential components in countless different types of applications. In many cases, they’re expected to run around the clock, and any downtime can grind operations to a halt.

Hydraulic pump failure has a number of different internal and external causes, and understanding what those are can help prevent issues in the future. Poor maintenance, extreme operating conditions, and problems with other components can all contribute to failure and can all be carefully planned for and monitored to prevent any issues.

How to Tell That Your Pump Has Failed or Could Fail Soon

Hydraulic motor maintenance

Ideally, you’ll discover that there’s an issue with the pump before a complete failure. Identifying any problems earlier will give you more time to plan a response instead of scrambling when operations shut down unexpectedly. Minor fixes can even be incorporated into your regular maintenance schedule, adding no additional downtime.

Loud noises are going to be one of the most serious indicators of hydraulic pump failure. While your pumps will be making noise during regular operation, various faults can cause a loud knocking or banging. If you start to hear these noises from your pump, failure is likely right around the corner. Consider it your pump crying out for help.

Temperature is another key factor to watch for hydraulic pumps. Most hydraulic systems recommend operating at no more than 180 degrees Fahrenheit or 82 degrees Celsius, and temperatures climbing higher than that are a clear indication that something is wrong.

It could just be resistance from a filter that needs changing, but the high heat can quickly damage the pump permanently in any case.

Finally, the clearest sign that something is wrong is going to be the system performance itself. If your system is operating slowly, it’s likely due to internal leakage or other issues.

Continuing to use the system with a partially damaged pump will only speed up the complete failure of the hydraulic pump, so it’s best to address these issues as soon as you notice any signs.

The Most Common Causes of Pump Failure

clogged hydraulic filter

Many different factors can lead to hydraulic pump failure. No matter what the specific cause, it’s important to remember that pump components likely haven’t broken for no reason at all. Pump failure is a sign that something must be wrong somewhere in the system, with the effects ultimately leading to the failure of the pump.


Air and water contamination are major causes of hydraulic pump failure. In terms of air contamination, you’re going to have to worry about both cavitation and aeration.

Cavitation is a likely cause of loud banging noises coming from the pump. Dissolved gasses within the oil can react to pressure differences by coming out of the oil and then being collapsed by the high pressure.

This compression generates loud banging and a shockwave that can cause serious damage to the pump and other components in the long run.

Aeration can have similar effects. This issue occurs when external air enters the system through leaks, loose connections, or other problem areas. It generally creates a much more mild knocking but is still causing damage that eventually leads to hydraulic pump failure.

Water in the oil can be another major issue, especially when it is allowed to freeze. This problem can be much more difficult to identify as it won’t be making identifiable noises.

The look of the hydraulic oil itself can give an indication of water contamination by appearing hazier and less clear than usual. Water contamination will wear down hydraulic components and can cause oxidation over time as well.

Operating Conditions

A variety of process and environmental factors can affect the temperature and other qualities of the hydraulic fluid, potentially leading to hydraulic pump failure. When pumps run too hot, the fluid becomes thinner and more liable to leak. This heat also reduced the ability of the fluid to provide lubrication, leading to wear and further issues.

Significant overheating can lead to oxidation of the hydraulic fluid, which causes the fluid to become thicker. This thickening can limit flow through the system, further reducing heat dissipation and potentially causing even more severe overheating.

Low temperatures can also cause problems. The hydraulic fluid can only effectively flow once it approaches operating temperatures. Pump failure can be caused by increasing the load before the operating temperature is met, which is more common with lower ambient temperatures.

Installation and Maintenance Errors

Many different mistakes can lead to premature or even immediate hydraulic pump failure. A faulty installation could result in instantaneous and catastrophic damage to the system or gradual wear that isn’t discovered for years. Poorly fitted pipes and other pump components could contribute to leaks.

An incorrect combination of different parts can cause hydraulic pump failure as well. A motor might have excessive drive speed for a pump, or various types of control equipment can be incompatible. In any case, these issues can lead to increased wear or even immediate failure.

Failing to implement effective maintenance will also lead to premature failure. If the proper maintenance schedule isn’t followed, excessive wear can develop. This risk is true for both the pump and other system components that can affect the pump if not properly maintained.

Handling the Cause of the Issue Itself Helps Prevent Hydraulic Pump Failure

hydraulic hose preventative maintenance

Even if a hydraulic pump is replaced or repaired, the issue is likely to occur again if the root cause isn’t identified and resolved. This diagnostic could mean evaluating the entire system to find out just what went wrong. There could be other components that allow for fluid leaks or air and water to enter the system.

There could also be some issues with the system leading to over-pressurization. As the load on the pump increases, it’s liable to overheat, develop leaks, and increase wear in general. Other components can be responsible for this overloading, and identifying the cause is crucial to implementing an effective solution.

To prevent future hydraulic pump failure, you should ensure that the system follows all relevant specifications. Operating outside of these specifications could cause damage to the pump and other components that eventually lead to hydraulic pump failure.

Keeping up with scheduled maintenance is also essential and can help identify problems before they lead to pump issues.

After a pump failure, a professional inspection of the entire system may be in order. Avoiding this precaution could lead to another failure shortly or even more excessive damage to your hydraulic systems.

Many hydraulic components are relatively quick and inexpensive replacements, and avoiding necessary repairs can only lead to serious issues down the line.

MAC Hydraulics Troubleshoots, Repairs, Replaces, and Maintains Hydraulic Pumps

The team at MAC Hydraulics can provide all of the services you need for your hydraulic system, including professional troubleshooting. We offer replacement hydraulic pumps, repair pumps, and cover maintenance to prevent unexpected hydraulic pump failure.

For fast and effective troubleshooting, you can reach out to us as soon as you notice issues like increased noise, oil leaks, loss of power, limited flow, or overheating. Our team will determine the root cause of the problems you’re experiencing with your pump to ensure that they won’t happen again.

We’re experienced in handling all hydraulic components, including the pump itself, motors, valves, and all of the auxiliary equipment that goes into your hydraulic systems. Our on-site repair services can give you the most comprehensive support for your system, delivering exceptional reliability for all of your hydraulic components.

That also includes effective resealing to help you get the most out of your existing components, instead of having to replace them before their time. Our experienced team can go over your options and find the best solution for your hydraulic systems today.

Taking All Aspects of Hydraulic Pump Failure Into Consideration

You rely on your hydraulic systems every day and can’t afford to let hydraulic pump failure grind operations to a halt. Whether the issue is air or water contamination, overheating, over-pressurization, human error, or anything else, the end result will be the same when your pump quits.

Every component within a hydraulic setup will affect the overall system. Hydraulic pump failures can indicate further issues with other parts of the system. Looking into exactly what the real cause is can help prevent additional failures in the future.

Whenever your system suffers from pump failure, it’s best to go with trusted professionals for the replacement or repair you need to get running again. An experienced team can ensure that you have the right pump for your system and that the installation is carried out safely and reliably.

MAC Hydraulics Can Handle All of Your Hydraulic Pump Needs

Whether you’re just starting to notice potential signs of wear or you’re experiencing hydraulic pump failure at this very moment, you should contact the team at MAC Hydraulics today for a rapid response and reliable service.

Our experienced technicians can find the true cause of the failure and take the necessary steps to ensure it won’t happen again.

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