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To flush or not to flush: does your turbine’s lubricant system need flushing?

Flushing a lubricating system can be a great move if it is performed correctly, and if there is a need to do so, in many cases adding years of life to a system, However, the process of performing a flush is almost always disruptive and it can be risky if not performed in the right way.

Bearing that in mind, the first thing you should do before performing a lubricant system flush is to work out whether you need to do it at all.

When might I need to flush a system?

There are several different circumstances that may require you to perform a lubricant system flush. One of the main ones would be if you are commissioning a new machine or bringing back into action a machine that has into been used for a while.

You may also need to complete a flush if any part of your equipment fails in such a way that component parts may break off and leave debris in your oil.

Oil changes

Many turbine operators believe that oil should be flushed each and every time turbine oil is changed. Whether or not this practice is necessary is hotly debated because, although it makes sense to flush the system of old and degrading oil and particles before adding a newer lube, there are other factors that come into play.

For instance, if you can effectively remove 99% of your old oil from your lubrication system, there isn’t really a pressing need to do a costly oil flush, which will put your equipment out of action for a while.

It also makes little sense to perform a flush prior to an oil change if the new oil you are replacing it with is either the same oil, or an oil that has been extensively tested for compatibility with your old one. Of course, even if the old oil is compatible, if it is significantly degraded, you may well want to bite the bullet and go ahead with a flush.

Although what you have read above may appear straightforward, you should not rest on your laurels. When dealing with industrial lubricants, you need to remain ever vigilant and weigh up every move you make before you make it. Otherwise, you might find yourself dealing with damaged equipment or angry bosses who are not happy with any interruptions to normal service.

If you are unsure whether you need to flush a system or not, it may be worth consulting an expert in the area to help you make the right decision.

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