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Seals and gaskets are the type of items that wear frequently. As such, they are subject to limited life and need to be replaced. That being said, there are ways to reduce wear and maximize the operating life of these critical parts.
In order to extend the life of your seals and gaskets, you must first have detailed knowledge of your operational parameters and environment:
- Seals and gaskets must meet or exceed speed, load, pressure, sealing dynamics and mounting factors.
- You must know of and consider ambient conditions including temperature, contamination and UV exposure when selecting materials and designs.
- You must confirm media and product compatibility with seal and gasket materials.
Next, you must ensure that your seals are installed properly. Seals, gaskets and even bearings often prematurely fail due to installation issues. Maintenance staff must be properly trained and given suitable tools to ensure that installation conforms to manufacturer specifications.
Additionally, it is extremely important that the surfaces that come into contact with your seals and gaskets are clean and free of imperfections such as tooling marks and dimensional irregularities. Dynamic surfaces must be sufficiently hardened so that they can endure seal contact without experiencing accelerated wear.
Once you have installed your seals and gaskets, it is critical to maintain appropriate housekeeping and maintenance. If your application requires them, lubricants, cleaners and sanitation chemicals should be carefully chosen to guarantee that they will work well with your equipment. You should always apply the proper amounts of these chemicals by the correct means according to manufacturer instructions. Applying too much of these compounds is as damaging as not applying enough, and the same goes for application pressure of such fluids.
Lastly, you should know your protected asset value—bearings, machine components, products, environment—and know the application’s value and costs for production and maintenance time. Putting a high-cost seal on a low-value application (or vice versa) just to reduce seal wear does not make good business sense.
Seal and gasket product are often low-cost items by themselves, but their application value is usually thousands of times greater than their purchase price when they are properly selected, installed and maintained.
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