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Seal installation guide: Part 2

Tips for installing hydraulic seals

Hydraulic seals are used to seal the opening between components in hydraulic cylinders. They are vital in machinery in almost every industry. To help ensure they function correctly for their full expected lifespan, you first need to install them properly. Read our tips for success.

This article provides tips for hydraulic seals. For shaft seal installation tips, click here. 

So you’ve carefully considered your application’s requirements and selected the right seal for the job. Now, you need to ensure you get the installation right to prevent excessive wear or premature failure. Depending on a number of factors – such as the type of seal housing – the tools, methods, and difficulty of installation will vary. Here are some general step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process. 

1. Preparation: Cleaning and lubricating 

As always, preparation is key. Before you get started, you should check your new seal for damage and thoroughly clean the sealing system to remove any debris left behind by the old seal. You should then lubricate the new seal with a compatible lubricant to facilitate installation. 

2. Tools: Equipped for the task 

Having the appropriate tools at hand can save time and help prevent accidental damage to seals and bearings. Simple tools like seal picks and hooks can help remove old seals, while installation sleeves and hydraulic presses support installation 

3. Housing: Open or closed? 

The type of seal housing is crucial. Closed housing grooves are the most common, but require the most planning and effort to prevent damage during installationOpen housing grooves, on the other hand, allow you to press the seal in with minimal deformation. Some seals, such as press-in wiper seals, have a metal sleeve that retains the seal in an open groove by press forces. Others may require a retaining ring or a snap ring to hold the seal in place. 

 4. Check: Radii and chamfer 

Corner and groove edge radii help protect the seal from damage. They should be sized to prevent contact with the adjacent portion of the seal or with sharp edges. You can usually find radius recommendations in product information from your supplier. Installation chamfers ensure that the seal can easily transition from its free state diameter into its installed diameter. Recommendations for the chamfer angle and minimum length should be provided in product tables. 

5. Installation: Tools or no tools?  

Numerous factors determine whether or not you require tools for installation. Thin and flexible profiles can often be installed by hand. To insert the seal into a closed groove, bend the profile into a kidney shape, taking care to avoid sharp bending. Profiles of greater section thickness may require installation tools, and PTFE seals and small-diameter seals may require special assembly tools.  

As the installation procedure varies depending on the type of seal and the application, you should always refer to the instruction manual. If you require special installation tools, contact your supplier. 

Once your seal is installed, it’s important to keep it adequately lubricated. Check our Ask the Expert article to find out how to keep your seals in good condition.