There are various types of oil filter failure modes and you should be aware of them. Every type of filter failure represents a distinct failure mechanism and a detection method. While each of these failure types is not good for your equipment, you must be proactive to detect and avoid them with simple system analysis. In this blog post, we will discuss four types of oil filter failures and how you can prevent them:


It’s easy to blame the oil when you’re having a filter plugging issue which occurs when the oil in the system has been circulating for too long without change. The absence of routine maintenance activities is also the reason why filter plugging takes place. In most situations, the filter is likely to be covered or saturated in carbon sludge or other products like varnish. Your oil-analysis efforts might be unable to indicate filter plugging. However, as the flow path is all but stopped, the system will register increased pressure differential across the filter. One of the solutions to avoid this problem is routine changes in the oil system and the filter.

Fatigue Cracking

Media matrix deformation or fatigue cracking is another type of failure which occurs in situations where the filter weave warps due to violent cycle shifts of pressure and flow. While you can reinforce some forms of woven material with simple metal screens, some cases require the filter to move inside the system to avoid high pressures. Fatigue cracking restricts oil flow through the filter, which leads the analysis reports to show an upward trend in the total particle count


Media pore erosion or channeling is a situation where the filter screen is bombarded by fast-moving abrasive particles such as wear metal or sand. When the filter screen has to withstand the bombardment as a non-stop process, these particles slowly erode the filter material. Abrasive particles lodge in the filter pros, irreparably expanding the pores. You can prevent this issue by simply checking and maintaining the system’s seals and gaskets. The analysis reports also show the failure when there is an upward trend in the number of large particles in the particle count test.

Media Migration

Media matrix rupture, also called media migration, is a filter failure similar to fatigue cracking. However, in the case of media migration, the high-pressure transient partially destroys the filter and rupture the material. Apart from the failure of a filter to catch normal contaminants, new contaminants are introduced in the form of failed filter pieces. In addition to this, there is a risk of previously captured elements being released again in the system. The presence of abrasive materials like wear metal and sand cause increased rupture problems.

The oil system showing low or no pressure drop across the filter is an indication of media migration. In oil analysis reports, you’ll observe an increase in the total particle count. It’s difficult to identify media migration immediately. When large and broken filter pieces enter the system, they can cause irreparable damage to downstream components.


Visual inspection of the system on a daily basis can help you prevent these failures. Analyzing oil samples, observing pressure and flow behavior, and performing other preventive maintenance activities will further strengthen your lubrication processes. Apart from implementing a sound preventive maintenance strategy, make sure to use high-quality filters and filtration systems. For example, Kaydon Filtration offers premium filtration products.

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Micro Lube is a full-service maintenance company in Canada. We offer premium-quality industrial lubrication and maintenance products such as Kaydon Filtration Systems and Whitmore lubrication solutions. Browse through our site to learn more about our products!