Handling with Moisture Contamination Inside Lubricants and Machines

August 28, 2023


Moisture contamination in lubricants and machines is a persistent challenge that can have detrimental effects on equipment performance, longevity, and overall operational efficiency. Water intrusion can lead to corrosion, wear, and a breakdown in lubrication, resulting in costly downtime and maintenance. In this blog, we’ll explore the various sources of moisture contamination, its effects on lubricants and machines, and effective strategies for dealing with this issue to ensure smooth and reliable equipment operation.

Understanding Moisture Contamination

Moisture can infiltrate lubricants and machines through several sources, including environmental factors such as humidity, temperature changes, and exposure to rain or water spray. Additionally, poor storage practices, improper maintenance procedures, and faulty seals or gaskets can contribute to moisture ingress.

Effects of Moisture Contamination

Moisture contamination can have a range of negative effects on both lubricants and machines:
  1. Corrosion: Water in contact with metal surfaces can lead to corrosion, weakening the components and reducing their lifespan.
  2. Reduced Lubricating Properties: Moisture can disrupt the lubricating film between moving parts, causing increased friction and wear.
  3. Oil Degradation: Water contamination can accelerate the degradation of lubricating oils, reducing their effectiveness and leading to the formation of harmful byproducts.
  4. Foaming: Water can cause lubricants to foam, leading to air entrainment and reduced lubrication efficiency.
  5. Microbial Growth: Moist environments can promote the growth of microbes, which can lead to the formation of sludge and deposits that impair equipment performance.

Dealing with Moisture Contamination

Addressing moisture contamination requires a comprehensive approach that involves both prevention and mitigation strategies:
  1. Proper Storage and Handling: Store lubricants in clean, dry environments and ensure that containers are tightly sealed to prevent moisture ingress. Implement proper handling procedures during lubricant transfer to minimize the risk of contamination.
  2. Regular Equipment Inspection: Perform routine inspections to identify and address potential sources of moisture intrusion, such as damaged seals, gaskets, or vents.
  3. Desiccant Breathers: Install desiccant breathers on equipment to prevent moisture-laden air from entering the system. These breathers absorb moisture and maintain a dry environment within the equipment.
  4. Oil Analysis: Implement a regular oil analysis program to monitor moisture levels in lubricants. This can help identify contamination issues early and guide maintenance decisions.
  5. Water Separation Techniques: Utilize water separation techniques such as centrifugation or coalescing filters to remove free water from lubricants.
  6. Maintain Proper Seals and Gaskets: Ensure that all seals and gaskets are in good condition to prevent moisture from entering critical areas of the equipment.
  7. Operating Conditions: If possible, maintain consistent operating conditions to reduce temperature fluctuations that can cause condensation.
  8. Lubricant Choice: Opt for lubricants that have good demulsibility, which means they can separate from water easily, reducing the risk of emulsification.


Moisture contamination is a persistent challenge in maintaining the health and efficiency of lubricants and machines. Its effects can be far-reaching, impacting both the lubricant’s performance and the machine’s longevity. By implementing preventive measures such as proper storage, regular inspections, and the use of desiccant breathers, as well as employing mitigation techniques like oil analysis and water separation, industries can effectively tackle moisture contamination. Through these strategies, businesses can ensure smooth operations, minimize downtime, and extend the lifespan of their equipment, ultimately leading to increased productivity and cost savings. Contact our Micro-lube experts for more information about moisture contamination inside lubricants and machines.
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