Desiccant breathers can be attached to any reservoir, drum of oil or any piece of equipment that needs clean, dry air going into it. In humid or wet environments, these breathers may not last very long. This 1-minute, 51-second video explains how breathers work as well as some simple things you can do to increase their service life.
One hardware change that is very simple to implement but often overlooked is spacing the breather away from the reservoir. By adding a length of pipe between the breather connection and the reservoir, you can help protect the breather against oil mist that can quickly reduce both the effectiveness of the desiccant and the overall service life of the breather.
Taking reservoir spacing considerations even further, it is possible to port out your breather as far as 30 feet from the reservoir connection point. This can accomplish two things: protecting the breather from the oil mist of the reservoir itself and also protecting the breather from any ambient conditions that may be shortening its life.
If steam exhaust, water spray, or jets of moist air are frequently coming in contact with the breather, porting it to a different spot may offer significant protection from these environmental issues and give the breather a much longer service life.
If there is no way for the breather to escape the ambient moisture in your facility, it may be time to consider other ways to reduce the moisture level in the air overall. Focus on reducing steam leaks or leaky water lines resulting in a spray. This can help extend the life of breathers, but it also may help in other aspects of caring for your machines and keeping your lubricants clean, cool and especially dry.
As mentioned above, reducing the moisture level of your lubricants before they even enter the machine by adding desiccant breathers to lubricant storage equipment can help extend the life of the breathers on your machines. The desiccant not only reduces the humidity of incoming air, but also that of the headspace. The use of desiccants can reduce the moisture level in a lubricant over time.
There are many other tools out there for reducing moisture in lubricants and some of these may come into play if you are looking for ways to combat moisture while extending the life of your breathers at the same time.
The headspace you are dealing with is important to keep in mind, as it can help determine the amount of “breathing” that will occur inside the machine. Therefore, it is imperative to understand how much the headspace can fluctuate.
For instance, the headspace in a splash-lubricated gearbox will fluctuate less than that of a hydraulic system reservoir where there are large volumetric changes within the sump. This volumetric flow rate must be within the breather’s capabilities, or it may cause a vacuum or pressurization condition inside the component.