How To Install and Remove O-Rings?

Posted on September 19, 2022 David Atkinson Aviation

O-rings are circular mechanical gaskets designed to sit in a groove and be compressed when assembling two or more parts, creating a seal at the interface. They are commonly employed in static or dynamic applications, like rotating pump shafts or gas sealing applications, respectively. More than that, O-rings are the most common seals used in machine design due to their low price points, easy manufacturing processes, and simple mounting requirements.

When removing or installing O-rings, you must always avoid using pointed or sharp tools that can scratch or marr hydraulic component surfaces or damage the O-rings. When utilizing seal removal and installation tools, it is important not to make contact with cylinder walls, piston heads, and related precision components. For instance, if you are using a hook-type removal tool and pull-type extractor tool, position the former under the O-ring and lift slightly to allow both tools to pull the O-ring from its cavity with ease.
 
Apart from hook-type and pull-type removal tools, there are also spoon-type and wedge-type extractors on the market. Once all the O-rings have been removed, you must clean the affected parts and contaminated areas that will receive new O-rings. Each replacement O-ring should be removed from its sealed package and inspected for defects like blemishes, abrasions, cuts, or punctures. While they may appear perfect upon first look, microscopic surface flaws may be present which produce unsatisfactory O-ring performance under fluctuating operating pressures.
 
Since many defects are difficult to detect, aircraft manufacturers recommend using a 4-power magnifying glass with ample lighting to thoroughly inspect each ring before it is installed. If you roll the ring on an inspection cone or dowel, you can check the inner diameter surface for small cracks, foreign particulates, among other irregularities. By stretching the ring between your fingers, without exceeding its elastic limits, you can check for more defects otherwise not visible.
 
By carrying out the aforementioned assessments, you save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run. It is better to routinely check your O-rings to prevent wear and tear than wait until a functional issue is no longer reversible. Once the O-rings have been inspected, dunk them in clean hydraulic fluid before installation. During installation, do not roll or twist the O-ring as this can damage it. In fact, it is recommended to keep the O-ring mold line constant.
 
For installation in sharp threaded areas, ridges, slots, and edges, additional protective measures should be taken. Such measures include using O-ring entry sleeves made of metallic or paper materials, covers using a seal package, or lint-free bond paper. Keep in mind that adhesive tapes cannot be used to cover danger areas on components as gummy residues left by such adhesives have a massive effect on hydraulic systems. After the O-ring is positioned in the provided cavity, gently roll it with your fingers to eliminate any twist that may have occurred during installation.

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