Protecting Your Industrial Gearbox From Contamination

Protecting Your Industrial Gearbox From Contamination

Date: August 30, 2017

With all of their moving and revolving parts, industrial gearboxes are extremely vulnerable to malfunctions if contaminated or improperly lubricated. Fortunately, most gearbox breakdowns are preventable with a proactive maintenance plan. Here are a few techniques that can help you protect your industrial gearbox from contamination and failure.

Common sources of contamination

Contamination occurs when foreign particles or substances enter your industrial gearbox and damage it, or noticeably decrease its performance. A few common contaminants include dirt, hard particles, water, heat, chemical compounds, improper lubricants, and other environmental debris.

How to protect against gearbox contamination

It is much more expensive to eliminate contaminants than it is to prevent them from ever entering your industrial gearbox. To help avoid pricey repairs later on, there are a few components that you can maintain.


Most regular gearbox lip seals are more affordable and require regular replacement. While these are sufficient for preventing oil leaks and pollutants from getting in, their efficiency is much lower than that provided by labyrinth seals. Labyrinth seals are more expensive, but are sometimes preferred and believed to be much more durable and better at filtering out contaminants.


To enhance contaminant protection, it is wise to install a high-grade breather or exhaust tube in your industrial gearbox, if it does not come with one. This can help to eliminate moisture and airborne debris before they infiltrate your equipment.

Drum pump filters

Filtering storage drum lubricants also helps to prevent industrial gearbox contamination. Drum pump filters help to minimize particle pollution, expel pre-existing contaminants, and prevent chemical spills.

Sampling valves

Sampling valves allow you to take oil samples from commercial machines during operation to determine the oil’s quality. These valves can also detect any contamination before it inflicts damage to your equipment. Routinely obtaining and testing these samples is very important to maintaining your the integrity of your industrial gearbox.

Oil testing

Frequent oil testing is an integral component in any proactive maintenance plan. Testing involves ensuring the oil has the proper viscosity and required additives, then keeping the oil clean and well-maintained. The three primary things to consider while testing your lubricant are oil composition, contaminants, and overall gearbox health.

Oil composition involves checking the oil’s physical attributes, like viscosity, and acidity, to see if it is still usable or needs to be changed. If the lubricant lacks the correct physical attributes, it will increase the wear on your equipment.

Environmental contaminants like dirt, moisture, and particles are the top reason behind untimely gearbox damage and malfunction. Regularly checking contaminant values enables you to extend your machine’s lifespan.

Polluted oil results in heavier gearbox wear weakening overall equipment health. By frequently analyzing your lubricant for wear particles, it is possible to identify which industrial gearbox components require maintenance or repair to prevent more damage or a serious failure. You can also choose a GSU option like an oil filtration machine from Amarillo gear Service, which lets you easily change the oil in your cooling tower gearbox.

Analyzing your industrial gearbox oil

When the time comes to analyze your oil, you will want to perform a certain set of steps.

You will first need to identify at what point your oil should be changed. The lubricant purity standards published by the AGMA and the AWEA for wind turbine gearboxes recommend an ISO code of 16-14-11 for fresh oil. Factory-tested oil and oil that has been in a continuously operating gearbox for 24 hours should have a code of 17-15-12. Oil sampled at a random point from a running gearbox should have an ISO code of 18-16-13. These standards are good guidelines for your machine’s oil purity.

To be able to achieve these standards, it is crucial to prevent contamination of your industrial gearbox and to optimize filtration. Along with the proactive strategies detailed above, always store your lubricant in a dry and clean area, and avoid blending it with unfamiliar oils.

Once you’ve established a benchmark and carried out the appropriate precautionary measures, you will need to ensure that you don’t veer from these ranges. Regularly analyze your gearbox lubricant, and act immediately if the purity levels are not correct. By eliminating polluted oil from your industrial gearbox, you can prevent serious damage.

A little extra time and expense is well worth it

These contamination prevention devices and diagnostic procedures might seem to require a little more time and money in the beginning. However, their long-standing benefit of protecting against premature wear, malfunctions, and replacements is well-justified. Simply using the right oil and sticking with a contamination prevention routine is your best line of defense against unnecessary machine wear and expensive equipment failures.

Amarillo Gear Service offers expert industrial gearbox repair and maintenance

Although you will greatly reduce the need for professional gearbox repair by following the preventative tips mentioned above, machines do wear out and accidents do happen. If you are looking for a reliable service provider that understands your industrial gearbox, call Amarillo Gear Service in Amarillo, Texas today. You can call us at (806) 622-1273 for more information about our Amarillo Gear™ and Marley™ gearbox repair and Renewal services. You can also view the Regions We Service or Contact Us by email to learn more.

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