If some of the equipment being used in the factory in which you work uses rubber O-rings as seals for the fluid lines, you may start to worry about their age and whether they are still holding up to the constant pressure and temperatures that are placed on them every day. If so, look for the following signs that the O-rings are starting to wear down and need to be replaced.
1. Surface of the O-ring Shows Signs of Wear or Damage
The first sign that the equipment's O-ring needs to be replaced is any type of damage on the surface. To see if there is any damage, use a flashlight to fully illuminate the rubber surface to make it easier to inspect it.
While looking at the surface, look for any cracking or splitting of the rubber. Either one of these types of damage usually indicates that the rubber has become old and is incapable of staying moist, causing it to break down.
Also, look for any bubbling or blisters on the surface. If the rubber is exposed to extreme heat on a consistent basis, the high temperatures can eventually burn the rubber from the inside out, creating air pockets.
2. O-ring Feels Either Too Wet or Too Dry
Another sign that the rubber O-ring is wearing down can be detected by running your finger along the surface. However, to perform this test, make sure you turn off the equipment and let it cool down, especially if the fluid flowing through the lines is hot.
When you run your finger along the rubber surface, try to discern whether the material is either too wet or too dry. The moisture content of the O-ring's rubber can give you a good indication of its overall condition.
Normally, the rubber should feel smooth and supple. However, if it feels wet, this is usually a sign that there is a leak caused by fluid seeping around the edges or pushing its way through the rubber.
However, if the rubber feels dry and crackles when you push in on it slightly, this usually means that the material is so worn that it is unable to maintain the correct moisture level. Eventually, the rubber will start to crack and split.
If you discover any of the above signs of wear or damage on an O-ring, you should replace it before it breaks down completely and causes fluid leaks. If you are unsure of which size you need, or if the O-ring was specially made for a particular piece of equipment, contact an industrial supply company that offers custom manufactured rubber parts to discuss your options for having one made.