Choosing Bearings And Seals For A Corrosive Environment

Posted by Bradley Irwin on January 26, 2018

When it comes to replacing parts on a car, truck, machine, or boat, it’s always a good idea to get both a proper fit for easier installation and a part that can withstand the working environment as well.

Some parts can fail rather quickly if oxidation sets in and isn’t corrected during maintenance. When it comes to bearings, some of them are made of metal alloys that can withstand certain corrosive chemicals, and some of them are better sealed to keep out the chemicals, dirt, and other contaminants.

It’s also important to note that in some cases different lubricants can also extend bearing longevity as well.

Limiting Foreign Contaminants From Entering The Bearing

There is no limit to the number of chemicals and other contaminants that can ruin a bearing. In coastal areas there is always salt and salt water that is present for miles inland due to ocean spray. These salts are similar to the salts used on roads during the winter months in nearly the entire northern United States. When mixed with water they increase corrosion in most metals while attracting other debris as well.

Many bearings that are made for use in corrosive environments have employed a tighter seal of higher quality materials. This is the first line of protection for the bearings. By limiting the salts, alkalies, and acids from ever reaching the bearings their effects are reduced. These three types of corrosives are almost always present in water, so if water is visibly present in the bearing, then they can be prone to corrosive deterioration.

If you have a specific application that requires a better seal, there are specialty seals made to keep out water, metallic micro dust, and other chemicals that might be encountered. The variety of contaminants is endless since bearings are used in manufacturing plants that are exposed to food wastes, chemical wastes, mining wastes, and regular outdoor exposures too. The key is to learn what the environmental exposure is, and then look for the appropriate counter measure that’s available.

Keeping The Lubrication To The Proper Amount

It is possible to have too little or too much lubrication in a bearing. It’s important to always have just the right amount and keep it topped up on a regular basis. If there are air spaces not occupied by grease it’s all too easy for them to be filled with corrosive contaminated water. Then the grease and seal will only serve to hold the contaminates in close contact to the bearing and cause faster wear. There are also specialty greases that can be used that are better at combating certain chemicals, and care should be taken to always use the proper grease or oil lubricant.

After a bearing failure, it can be advantageous to perform a failure analysis to determine the cause. Any bearing that fails sooner than expected has most likely been exposed to some kind of negative environmental condition. It’s possible to look closely at the bearing and make a determination as to the best way to prevent the same problem from arising again in the future. Such evidence as bearing creeping, flaking, pitting, and other corrosion can be carefully analyzed in order to choose a replacement bearing and seal that will give a longer service life the next time around.

If you’re having, or expecting, early bearing failure there is a lot of information available online to help you choose a more adequate replacement bearing and seal for future use. In some cases a phone call placed to the manufacturer will help you choose just the right bearing since not all the technical details on every bearing are immediately obvious in their descriptions. By doing your research you’ll know that you’ve found the best option for your application.

If you have any questions, you are always welcome to call us or fill out a contact form at Bearings Inc.

Last modified on February 10, 2018

Categories: Bearings, Lubricants, Seals

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