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To Flush or not to Flush (your oil system)… that is the Question

Flushing a lubricating system, when required and done effectively, can be helpful for your machines. Restoring system cleanliness can add years of life to your equipment. However, flushing is a disruptive practice to any lube system, and carries significant risk. Determining if a flush is required for your system is the first step.

There are many circumstances when flushing is required such as:
• Commissioning new machines
• Re-commissioning machines that have been taken out of commission for a period of time
• After a system components fails, leaving broken pieces in the lube system
• When an incompatible fluid has been inadvertently added to the system
• Changing to a new brand or formulation of lubricant and the compatibility is not well understood

Unless there is a catastrophic failure, the most common time that turbine oil users contemplate a flush is between oil changes.

Is a flush required each time you change your turbine oil? There is not an industry-accepted practice for determining this. Removing degraded oil and deposits from the internals of your lube system certainly seems to make sense before charging your system with new oil. You wouldn’t want to have a bath in a dirty bathtub. But, flushing can be costly and resource intensive. Is it really necessary?

Flushing is not required between oil changes if:
• More than 98% of the old oil can be removed from the system
• The new turbine oil is of the same type and brand as the in-service oil or if extensive compatibility tests (ASTM D7155) have been done to verify compatibility.

Flushing between oil changes should be done under the following circumstances:
• The current in-service oil is in poor physical or chemical condition and it is not feasible to remove more than 98% of the oil from system
• The new charge of turbine oil is going to be a different formulation which may not be compatible with the current in-service Lubricant.

The above seems fairly straight forward. However, when dealing with sludge and varnish issues the old default method was a chemical and/or high-velocity flush. Today’s much simpler, less risky and less expensive option is using an in-service solubility enhancer such as Boost VR. This solution makes the decision of whether to flush or not simple. By simply adding the solubility enhancer three months in advance of the oil change (during operation), it will remove deposited varnish and sludge and bring it back into solution ready to be taken out with the old oil. Are you planning your next oil change? Contact us now for expert advice on all your flushing options.

  • Fluitec
  • Fluitec International / About the author

    Our team of internationally recognized experts with a track record for delivering innovative solutions. Our expertise centers around increasing the reliability and profitability of manufacturing plants, rotating equipment and transportation industries. Our clean technology solutions also deliver environmental benefits to our customers. We strive on providing high level, rapid return investments that allow our customers to merge economics with sustainability.