The Effects Of Water Contamination On Oil Filters

December 23, 2021

The Effects Of Water Contamination On Oil Filters Keeping in mind the effects that contamination has on lubrication and machinery, it is not difficult to understand why the oil filtration system is important for industrial machinery. Without proper oil filtration the contaminants pile up in the machinery and result in disrupted lubrication that make the machines prone to premature failure. Hence you should use oil filters to protect your machinery from water contamination. Depending on your equipment’s needs there are many types of oil filters and as they are designed to capture various kinds of contaminants with varying degrees of performance. The primary contaminant targeted by oil filters are solid particles, but there are many oil filters that absorb water. These include filters made from coiled paper or cellulose fibres. However, know that these filters do not work properly when exposed to too much water and high amounts of water can clog the oil flow in your machines. In this blog post, we will talk about the effects of water contamination on oil filters.

History Of Oil Filters

The first known filters were used to remove unwanted dirt, dust and other contaminants from the water. The Romans invented this process, but it is believed that there are some other origins of this process as well. The word filter is derived from the Latin word feltrum or filtrum which means compressed wool. The function of this compressed wool is to filter the contaminants when the water passes through it. In the early 1900s, filters used for oil cleanliness came into existence before that filters were only used to clean water. These oil filters were first used to purify crude oil but now they are used to filter contaminants from industrial machinery.

Water Induced Filter Failures

An oil filtration system is generally configured and sized to handle the expected amount and types of contaminants to which the system will be exposed. The differential pressure gauge reading helps to determine the exact time for filter changing. If the lubricant is contaminated with water and the pressure gauge reading shows that it is time to change the filter, avoiding filter replacement at this time can cause premature water induced failure. If the water gets into this system the whole system will fail miserably and the oil filter will not function properly. The addition of water to lubrication causes corrosion in different parts of the machine. Here are some of the situations in which water will cause oil filtration system failure:

Large Amounts Of Water

Various oil filters are designed to tackle a certain amount of water and if this limit is exceeded these oil filters will stop functioning properly. When an unexpected amount of water enters the system, it clogs the oil filter and causes drastic changes in the differential pressure and that puts a lot of strain on the oil filter. If this is left to continue the water element will form a bypass gap in the damaged media and then the oil will flow through the machine unfiltered. So while these oil filters are designed to absorb a certain amount of undesirable water, if excessive water is left to keep on going into the system and is ignored for a long period of time then this will compromise the oil filtration system. Hence you should keep a close eye on the amount of water entering the system and if there is a large amount of water then you should regularly change the filter so that the filtration system is not affected.


Oxidation is another way through which water can damage the oil filters. You cannot avoid small amounts of water in oil which usually enters the system in the dissolved state. So when the water is in small amounts it will not affect the filters and will not have any significant consequences on the filtration system. But if the water amount increases and goes beyond the filter’s saturating point then an oxidation reaction will affect the machine’s lubricants and impact the filter’s performance.

About Harvard Filtration

Harvard Filtration provides efficient solutions for oil contamination control. We offer numerous high-quality products for filter carts and filtration systems at affordable rates. Get rid of contaminants from your engines and motors with our top-quality oil filters. Contact us today for more information about our products and services.

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