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Confined Space Entry Reservoir Cleaning - Best Practice

The periodic internal clean-out of hydraulic and lube oil reservoirs is “best practice” and an important part of any world class reliability program.

One purpose of a hydraulic or lube oil reservoir is to provide enough residence time for the oil to allow sediment and other particulate contamination to settle to the bottom via gravity. When a reservoir is sized and configured properly, a significant amount of dirt, sludge, and metal fines will accumulate at the bottom, especially in applications with high ingression rates of particulate contamination.

Even with a high-quality kidney-loop filtration system installed, the suction and return ports are rarely right at the bottom of the reservoir, so a significant amount of sediment that settles to the bottom of the reservoir tends to accumulate and stay there. Then, during normal operations and especially when new oil is introduced into the reservoir for top-off, small but significant amounts of contamination can be stirred up off the bottom and put into suspension, where they can cause premature wear and failure of rotating equipment.

Completely draining all the oil from the reservoir into a temporary storage tank, sucking out all residual oil and sludge from the bottom with shop-vacs, and then wiping down the floor and walls with lint-free rags is a proven way to restore hydraulic and lube oil reservoirs to “like new” condition, meeting or exceeding OEM cleanliness specifications. To perform this work safely, personnel are often required to undergo “Confined Space Entry” training, obtain “Confined Space Entry” permits, and use specialized safety equipment per site specific regulations.

At the same time a Confined Space Entry Reservoir Clean is being performed, an offline kidney-loop filtration system loaded with high efficiency filter elements rated Beta>1000 can be used on the temporary storage tank to filter and “polish” the oil. Clean filtered oil that meets or exceeds the OEM cleanliness specifications can then be pumped back into the reservoir, ensuring both clean oil and a clean reservoir.

A complete Confined Space Entry Reservoir Clean can be performed in 1-2 days start-to-finish, even on large 6000–8000-gallon reservoirs. For this reason, it can almost always be included with other critical maintenance activities during most scheduled plant outages and turnarounds.

Contact us today for more information on our reservoir cleaning field service - or +1 (830) 816-3332.

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