Most Common Causes of Bearing Failure

November 3, 2017

Lubrication issues do come to mind first. When the moving parts lack a slippery coating, the bearing produces unmanageable quantities of heat. Friction and wear are the results. Contaminants in that oily film represent another causative factor, one that has dire consequences. Seen as two of the most common causes of bearing failure, there are other problems that vex machine maintenance crews. How about a nasty corrosion scenario?

Highlighting Corrosion Incidents 

Naturally enough, moisture is our first conspicuous culprit. The finely finished rolling elements can develop an oxidized surface when the water reacts with the metal in the bearing. Patches of grainy rust adhere to the steel-laced races. Bearing failure is imminent. Of course, there are other corrosive substances. Acid action ranks highly as a metal debilitating force, as does heat, especially when that thermal energy is assisted by steam. The solution, as ever, is to source a material alloy that resists these corrosive elements.

Poorly Maintained Equipment 

This next bearing failure instigator covers a multitude of sins, including the lubrication issue mentioned earlier. Insufficient care is the issue. During the operation of a loaded machine, that equipment is expected to function at its best. Maintenance programs have an important role here, so trained technicians are out on the floor or in the field. They check the oil gauges and lubrication systems that grease the proverbial wheels of the machinery. If the oil level is low, the techs add more lubricant. Thanks to this preventative measure, a greasy film of friction-cancelling fluid is sustained.

Overlooking Storage and Installation Procedures 

It’s easy to forget the sensitive nature of this otherwise robust component. Bearings are built to handle unimaginable stresses, yet they can also be hamstrung by a few incautiously implemented actions. Store the product properly, preferably in the supplied wax paper or the included packaging. If moisture penetrates an inadequately stored bearing, we’re back to the corrosion problem that oxidizes the finished metal. Installation problems introduce a whole other set of problems, including vibrational issues and misalignment blunders.

Having started with moisture, we’ve gone on to highlight numerous other bearing failure causes. Installation and storage errors are easily addressed, as are the maintenance issues that ensure the product is coated with a suitable lubricating agent. Loading problems would be the next likely stress inducer here, so do strive for a balanced load whenever possible. Finally, eliminate the water and contaminants that could potentially penetrate the bearing cage. A product with a bearing seal works well here, as does a labyrinth-type lip on the bearing housing.

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