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The Basics of Oil Flushing

Oil flushing serves as a way to clean the parts of a system that regularly come into contact with a lubricant. For many machine operators, oil flushing is often an afterthought when the system fails and it is imperative to get it up and running again.

Regular oil flushing helps to clear and control any contamination that can adversely affect the oil or the running of the machine. Flushing should be incorporated into a regular maintenance programme for each machine to keep them running smoothly.

There are four categories of oil flushing, all of which can be performed at different levels of operation.

Circulation Filtration

This flush can be performed while the machine is running as it only involves the external filtration system and the oil reservoir. Often referred to as a simple oil flush, the cleanliness level achieved with this method usually falls below the manufacturer’s operating specifications. The circulation filtration method is usually performed as part of an annual maintenance programme.

Rinse/ Purge

This method is mostly used when the system is being filled with new fluid or undergoing a full oil change. Steps of the rinse / purge flush include completely draining the system, refilling the reservoir and using the systems pumps to circulate the new lubricant.

System Flush

This flush is used when light maintenance work needs to be undertaken. A system flush is used to clear out any foreign particles that may be contaminating the oil and machinery. Bypasses are installed around critical components of the machine and any items that could be damaged are removed. The system pumps are then used to flush out any materials that don’t belong in the machine.

High Velocity Flush

The most thorough oil flush is the high velocity flush which utilises an outside high velocity pump to generate a turbulent flow of oil within the machine. An external pump is essential to create the right velocity which should be a minimum of 2-3 times the normal system flow rate.

A high velocity flush is used for major maintenance or to restart the system if there is a failure. It can also be used if large amounts of foreign material have been introduced to the system and they need to be cleared urgently.

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