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If you work with hydraulic equipment, you’ll know the importance of a well-functioning accumulator. It’s essential for the smooth running of equipment and can be extremely damaging if something goes wrong. So given their importance – how does one avoid hydraulic accumulator problems and what strategies can you implement to safeguard your equipment from potential bust? 

Here’s a rundown of the problems and solutions for your accumulator system. 

Understanding the function helps prevent issues down the track 

Hydraulic accumulators store built-up energy or pressure in a hydraulic system. Incompressible hydraulic fluid and gas are kept inside the accumulator reservoir – and are used to either cushion against internal shocks, or supplement pressure when needed to ensure the smooth and efficient working of the machine. They work as an intermediary between different components of a hydraulic system to ensure full working capacity. Accumulators essentially regulate the pressure in a closed hydraulic system, allowing for better efficiency, improved balance, and a longer run time. 

Different kinds of hydraulic accumulators 

While there are many different kinds of accumulators out there, only a few are used in industry today. Depending on the machinery or tools you’re operating, these different types appear in various ways to fulfil a variety of functions:

1. Bladder

This hydraulic accumulator system works by pre-charging the internal flexible rubber “bladder” with pressure from nitrogen gas to the right parameters depending on the kind of machinery and nature of work being done. Once pre-charged with potential energy, this bladder works to balance out pressure differences, softening sudden valve closures or the movement and shudder from moving machine parts. 

 2. Diaphragm

The diaphragm system works in a similar way, but is made from a one-piece design that delivers excellent gas and fluid separation – and can deal with higher pressure and is typically a smaller unit.

3. Spring-loaded piston

These accumulators work on a similar principle but the preloading is achieved through spring. These are similar to the early kinds of piston accumulators that can be found on older machinery and equipment.

3 common accumulator problems

Being such an important part of the machinery, it’s no surprise that when something goes wrong – it can be disastrous for the integrity of the machinery and the job being performed. Here are three common hydraulic accumulator problems:

 1. Wrong pre-charge level. 

This is one of the most common problems with hydraulic accumulators. If the pre-charge level is too low, the bladder within the accumulator can be crushed into the shell and punctured. This will permanently hinder the normal function of the accumulator. 

Likewise, if the pressure is too high, the bladder may be ruptured or torn by being forced under the poppet. One small hiccup like this and you can expect severe damage to the accumulator function. Generally, piston accumulators are more flexible when it comes to overloading or weaker pressure, either way, you’ll want to avoid this. 

2. Wrong compression ratio

This occurs when the diaphragm or bladder is subject to inconsistent or excessive compression ratios which greatly reduce the lifetime of the accumulator. The compression ratio is easily calculated by dividing the maximum pressure of the entire hydraulic system (P2) by the accumulator’s pre-charge pressure (P0). If you’re unsure about what pressure you’re dealing with or your equipment isn’t clear about either value – don’t experiment – call an expert for assistance. 

3. High temperatures 

During heavy workloads, it’s important to keep an eye on higher than average running temperatures. Typically, you’ll want to keep your system running below 80C. Any higher than this and you’ll want to take a break or check for issues. Higher temperatures can have a negative impact not just on your accumulator, but on the entire system generally. 

Hydraulic accumulator failure and how to avoid it 

Any of the above issues can easily result in accumulator failure. When stretched too far, or improper pre-charge levels or compression rates impact the bladder, you can be faced with a complete shutdown. Not only is it costly and potentially dangerous, when your system experiences hydraulic accumulator problems, but your job will also ultimately be delayed until a replacement is found. 

Avoiding accumulator failure is key to ensuring continuous, efficient work. 

Ways to prolong accumulator life

Observing regular servicing and keeping a log of what is done and when will greatly assist technicians when it comes to maintenance. If you haven’t already, schedule maintenance and checkups for all hydraulic systems and pay attention to your accumulator’s performance over time. Make the most of your system by keeping it in good shape. 

Where can I get professional preventative maintenance?

Get the most out of your accumulator and keep your hydraulic system healthy by getting expert technical assistance and regular check-ups. Don’t let the inevitable happen – reach out to the team at Hydraulic Solutions and Sales – we’ll be happy to talk about your servicing needs.