As your industrial lubrication specialist team, we at LH Travis talk a lot about the importance of avoiding contamination and its detrimental effects on lubricant quality. While this is often focused on particle contamination, there is another substance that can cause serious problems that lead to component failure – water.
The Undesired Effects of Water
It’s hard to completely eliminate the presence of water in any industrial process, after all, it’s in the air around us as humidity all the time. The problem comes in when water becomes too concentrated in places where it shouldn’t be at all, like in oil.
Typically, we think of water and oil as never mixing, but that’s not really accurate. Tiny droplets of water can become dissolved in lubricating oil, and, generally, you won’t even know it’s there. Most industrial oils can contain from 200 to 600 ppm of dissolved water without significant issue. Aged oils can hold more dissolved water than new oil.
Once the amount of water reaches a saturation point in the oil, the water starts to condense, first forming an emulsion within the oil, giving it a hazy cloudiness. After that, any more water that enters the oil will cause the mixture to separate, creating a layer of water and a layer of oil. Once it gets to this point, there are a lot of things that can go wrong.
When water is present in lubricating oil, the oxidation process speeds up aging of the oil. Some types of synthetic oils will also form an acidic byproduct in the presence of water. This can lead to corrosion of components, the washing away of dispersants and rust inhibitors, and a buildup of sludge and sediment.
Water can greatly reduce the life expectancy of your oils and cause erosion and damage in a number of ways.
Make Maintenance a Priority
LH Travis can help you develop a maintenance process that takes into consideration the environment and ambient humidity of your job site to reduce the amount of damage to machines caused by excessive moisture.