hydraulic valve

Part 2 Of Hydraulic Troubleshooting Guide 101

Here’s part 2 of our 3 part series on hydraulic trouble shooting 101. 

STEP 3 – Pump or Relief Valve…

If high pressure cannot be obtained in STEP 2 by running the pump against the relief valve, further testing must be conducted to see whether the fault lies in the pump or in the relief valve. Proceed as follows: If possible, disconnect the reservoir return line from the relief valve at point H. Attach a short length of hose to the relief valve outlet. Hold the open end of this hose over the reservoir filler opening so the rate of oil flow can be observed. Start the pump and run the relief valve adjustment up and down while observing the flow through the hose.

If the pump is bad, there will probably be a full stream of oil when the relief adjustment is backed off, but this flow will diminish or stop as the adjustment is increased. If a flowmeter is available, the flow can be measured and compared with the pump catalog rating. If a flowmeter is not available, the rate of flow on small pumps can be measured by discharging the hose into a bucket while timing with a watch.

For example if a volume of 10 gallons is collected in 15 seconds, the pumping rate is 40 GPM, etc. If the gauge pressure does not rise above a low value, say 100 PSI, and if the volume of flow does not substantially decrease as teh relief valve adjustment is tightened, the relief valve is probably at fault and should be cleaned or replaced as instructed in STEP 5.


If the oil substantially decreases as the relief valve adjustment is tightened, and if only a low or moderate pressure can be developed, this indicates trouble in the pump. Proceed to STEP 4.

STEP 4 – Pump…


If a full stream of oil is not obtained in STEP 3, or if the stream diminishes as the relief valve adjustment is tightened, the pump is probably at fault. Assuming that the suction strainer has already been cleaned and the inlet plumbing has been examined for air leaks, as in STEP 1, the oil is slipping across the pumping elements inside the pump. This can mean a worn-out pump, or too high an oil temperature.

High slippage in the pump will cause the pump to run considerably hotter than the oil reservoir temperature. In normal operation, with a good pump, the pump case will probably run about 20F above the reservoir temperature.

If greater than this, excess slippage, caused by wear, may be the cause. check also for slipping belts, sheared shaft pin or key, broken shaft, broken coupling, or loosened set screw.


I’ll give you step 5 and 6 in my next post.
Craig Cook

Fluid Power Safety Products

Fluid Power Safety 101
Safety is a critical aspect to any fluid power system, not just from the basic level of keeping components plumbed properly, but also in overall levels of machine safeguarding. It is critical to evaluate the entire system, including the electrical portion, to minimize exposure to unnecessary risk. Systems are rated based on the weakest link in the control chain. a Several standards (including ISO 13849-1:2006, ANSI/ASSE Z244.1-2003 (R2008) and ANSI/PMMI B155.1-2011) define the control system as including input, sensing, and interlock devices as well as output devices such as pneumatic and hydraulic valves. a The function of a fluid control valve mimics that of an electrical-control relay and, therefore, is subject to the same rules for classifying safety integrity. Thus, properly specified machine safeguarding systems include provisions for pneumatic valves, including: 
  • Must be functionally redundant.
  • Must be monitored for faults (including diminished performance faults, which may create the loss of redundancy), without depending on external machine controls or safety circuitry.
  • Must return to a safe position in the event of a loss of pressure or other such event.
  • Must be able to inhibit further operation upon detection of a fault condition until such condition is corrected.
  • Should have a dedicated, specific function-reset input and should prohibit the ability to perform a reset by simply removing or re-applying pneumatic or hydraulic power.
  • Must not automatically reset. 

Providing control reliability with fluid power is not quite the same as with electrical controls, however. For instance, plain redundancy in a safety circuit requires the equivalent function of four valve elements, not just two. Two of the four valve elements handle the inlet function while the other two elements handle the stop function (energy release). Many self-designed systems risk having hidden, potential flaws, which can lead to unsafe conditions because they are unseen, unexpected and, therefore, excluded from design and safety reviews. A good example is the spool cross-over conditions or ghost positions of a valve, which are usually not shown on schematics. a

Two general abnormal conditions can affect valve safety. The first is similar to an electrical-control fault, such as when a relay might be stuck in the open or closed position. The second is when a valve develops diminished performance, as when a valve becomes sticky or sluggish. In such cases, the valve reaches the proper position, but slower shifting affects safe stopping distances or precise timing. The ANSI B11.19-2010 Standard mandates a monitoring system that detects these conditions for critical applications and the ANSI/PMMI B155.1-2011Standard requires diminished performance monitoring if stopping time can be affected. An easy solution is to use a self-monitoring, Category-3 or -4 valve, designed to detect both conditions. a

The use of double valves remained relatively unheard of for many years except in a few select industries, such as stamping presses, which first initiated control reliability requirements. Double valves provide dual internal functions (redundancy) so that an abnormal function of one side of the valve does not interfere with the overall normal operation. At the same time, the double valves sense abnormal operation on either side of the valve and then inhibit further operation until the problem has been corrected and the valve deliberately reset. This sensing and inhibiting function is commonly referred to as monitoring. a

Two standard air valves, whether in parallel or in series, cannot perform the same safeguarding function as does a double valve critical function. By simply incorporating two standard air valves into the circuit, no provision is made to sense the abnormal operation of one side of the valve or, even more preferable, diminished performance such as slow shifting. In addition, there is no provision for inhibiting further operation of the circuit until the valve is repaired. If one valve actuates abnormally, the second one continues to function and redundancy is lost. The circuit doesn’t recognize lost redundancy nor would it halt operations as a warning that redundancy has been compromised. Then, if the second valve also actuates abnormally, there is no back up and control integrity no longer exists. a

Double valves are appropriate for pneumatic and hydraulic equipment anytime reliability is an issue. Typical applications include E-stop, two-hand-control, light curtains, safety gates, pneumatic locking devices for safety gates, hydraulic brakes, air brakes, amusement rides, hoists, elevators, pinch-point applications, or any other application where control system integrity depends on valve operation.      a


Craig Cook

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