By Gary Alexander, CFPHS
When it comes to troubleshooting a hydraulic system, nothing is more vital than a hydraulic pressure gauge. Pressure is the heartbeat of the hydraulic system, but monitoring the system operating pressure is not the only function for a pressure gauge.
A vacuum gauge, or absolute pressure gauge, on the inlet of the pump can provide an indication of the condition of the pump suction line and suction filter as well as prevent pump cavitation failure. Pressure gauges on the return line can detect restrictions in the return line and valve drain lines.
The hydraulic service technician should be equipped with a variety of hydraulic pressure gauges in various pressure ranges to accurately detect these pressures. Glycerin-filled gauges are recommended for most hydraulic gauge applications, especially when permanently installed in the system. The glycerin in the gauge helps protect the gauge from system pressure spikes. Additionally, to prevent premature failure, the range of the gauge should be 50% more than the maximum expected reading.
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