While the causes of leakage are now identifiable, the results can vary widely. One sure consequence is that leakage will cost money. The obvious cost associated with leakage is the loss of system fluid. A small leak can seem inconsequential until the long-term impact is carefully considered. For example:

1 drop of oil = .002 cubic inches
3 drops of oil per minute = .006 cubic inches
180 drops of oil per hour = .36 cubic inches = .001558 gallons
8-hour shift x 3 = .037392 gallons of oil per working day
250 working days = 9.348 gallons of oil per year
$18 average cost of gallon of oil = $168 of oil per year

Remember this is for one leak point. Multiple leak points can drive the loss and cost of hydraulic oil up significantly over the course of one year. You can calculate the approximate cost of lost fluid using Table 4.

Table 4

Table 4. Basic oil loss calculator.
Select figure to enlarge.


In addition to system fluid loss, there are many costs associated with leakage that are often overlooked. These include energy loss, downtime, lost revenue, rising insurance premiums, maintenance costs, warranty issues, safety hazards, and environmental responsibilities. Escalating EPA and OSHA scrutiny in recent years makes avoiding the consequences (fines; litigation) of hydraulic system leakage ever more important. In the event of an oil leak or worse, it is important to do the following:

  • Stop the leak/release

  • Contain the leak/release

  • Clean up the leak/release (necessary training/certification of clean up personnel will vary depending on the type/amount of oil and the media impacted; i.e. soil, groundwater, wildlife habitat, etc.)

  • Dispose of or remediate impacted media

  • Dispose of contaminated devices

  • Replace contaminated devices

  • Report leak/release (if required) to applicable government agencies (i.e. EPA, Coast Guard); follow up with regulators

  • Implement a corrective action to prevent a future, similar leak/release

  • Modify leak/release control plans, if required

There is no substitute for proper knowledge when working to ensure a leak-free system. Consider enrolling your employees in a training course to learn/refresh hydraulic connection and safety best practices. Parker’s Dry Technology Guide (Bulletin 4300-DT) is also a valuable resource for system designers, assemblers and technicians. The full-color, 100-page guide is a complete reference manual that allows the user to build a base of knowledge for creating and maintaining leak-free systems. To obtain a copy, call Parker Catalog Services at (800) C-Parker or contact your local Parker distributor.

Jeremy Haller, CFPS, is Product Sales Manager, at Parker Hannifin’s Tube Fittings Division
And Gary Kleiner, is Value Capture Manager for Parker’s Fluid Connectors and Hydraulics Groups. Contact them at jhaller@parker.com, (614) 324-8209 or gkleiner@parker.com, (330) 298-4043 or visit www.parker.com/tfd.