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    • June 2021
/ How Weather Impacts O-Rings

How Weather Impacts O-Rings

  • o-rings
  • o-ring weather exposure
  • o-rings heat exposure
  • o-rings cold exposure
  • o-rings ozone exposure

Environmental conditions play a vital role in the effectiveness of o-rings and the elastomers that make up the o-ring. These rubber rings are durable and are suited for most environments, but the effects of Rain, temperatures, ice, ozone, and UV light are all factors that could impact the performance of your o-ring. It is easy to disregard the importance of weather, but if you do, it can lead to premature failure of the o-ring and cause catastrophic damage to your systems! Weather's impact should always be considered when deciding the suitable material for the job. 


How Weather Impacts O-Rings


Extreme Heat Exposure

Temperatures can affect the stability of any rubber elastomer. In high-temperature situations, these rubber elastomers can deteriorate quickly as a significant temperature change could cause a chemical change over a long duration of time. These changes are irreversible and can change the strength and integrity of the elastomer, cause o-ring failure, or system damage. However, specific elastomers can withstand high temperatures without affecting the integrity of the rubber. These materials are Nitrile and Silicone.


Extreme Cold Exposure

Exposure to cold weather can cause the rubber to lose its elasticity. This exposure can cause the o-ring to lose its compression set, become less flexible, and even become brittle and break off. As the compression set worsens, the o-ring cannot go back to the original size, causing the o-ring to leak and fail. However, some elastomers can withstand frigid temperatures. These materials are Ethylene Propylene (EPR) , PTFE, and Nitrile .


Water Exposure

Water and humidity, oddly enough, could present problems to these o-rings. Too much water or moisture could cause rubber elastomers to act like sponges and soak up water, causing them to swell. Too much swelling could cause the o-ring not to fit the application and cause the system to fail. Unlike temperatures, water affects rubber physically instead of chemically. However, some materials don't alter their physical appearance and are resistant to water swelling. These materials are Viton, Ethylene Propylene (EPR), and Nitrile.


O-Zone Exposure 

Another consideration when you are choosing the material for your o-ring is ozone exposure. If your o-rings are outside, they will naturally have ozone exposure, as the air can have up to .01 ppm of ozone at any time, and the presence of lighting or electrical equipment can increase this level. Ozone impacts the polymer chain, especially at the corner or edges of the seal where more stretch occurs. When the polymer chain is disrupted, the o-ring will usually form a crack, leading to leakage and potential catastrophic malfunction of the whole application. Aflas is a common material industries use to combat o-zone degradation. This material is heavily o-zone resistant and hosts a variety of other advantages.

It can be easy to overlook the weather that an o-ring will be exposed to, but it's essential to consider all environmental factors. The 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger is an excellent example of how a failure to consider weather can damage an o-ring and cause catastrophic failure.



APG Can Help You Choose the Proper O-Ring Material

Are you worried about how the weather will impact the performance of your o-ring? We can help you find the right material for your specific application and weather conditions. Taking a bit more time to make the proper product selection will help ensure the o-ring performs as expected. Whatever your particular needs, our o-ring selection will offer you the quality and performance you need.


Are you still uncertain which material is best for your o-rings?

Contact the experts at APG!


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