The hydraulic cylinder is the actuator that is responsible for the force and stroke that the unit delivers. As a critical component of the overall system, when the cylinder fails you will have much larger issues. A key to avoiding a mishap is being able to notice a failure early on; here are some scenarios you can look for.
Bent Rod Bearing
A leading reason for cylinder failure is a bent rod bearing. If the weight of the load is not properly balanced, or aligned, this will put excess pressure on the cylinder. The result of this increased pressure is that the rod bearing will bend. If the load is very unbalanced, the piston rod may bend as well.
One issue that can often lead to an instant failure is seal leakage. When the fluid leaks out of the unit, it will not work properly and will likely cause even greater damage. In many instances, leakage occurs simply as a result of wear and tear and prolonged use. However, with a newer cylinder, an incorrect configuration, could also lead to leakage, but if this is the case, the leak would have to be present from day one.
If the barrel inside the unit is corroded, this will also cause a hydraulic cylinder to malfunction. Typically, this corrosion is the result of a leak that has been going on, that you may not have been aware of. As the fluid leaks, it causes a reaction with the metal that causes the corrosion to develop.
Poor Operating Conditions
Another issue that can cause failure and further cause the development of corrosion is using the cylinder in poor operating conditions. For example, if you are using the unit in an environment with high humidity levels, this can induce corrosion that leads to failure. Once the unit is repaired, you must make changes to where you operate your cylinder to avoid further damage.
If the fluid inside the hydraulic cylinder is contaminated, this will also lead to issues. Fluid often gets contaminated when debris particles get trapped inside the fluid. As the contaminated fluid passes through the system, the particles inside also travel and settle throughout the unit, which can cause problems. Ensuring the fluid is clean in the future will typically resolve this issue.
If your unit is displaying signs of failure, make sure you're taking the time to have it inspected by a professional. A hydraulic specialist will look at the cylinder to determine the best course of action.