There are more than a few reasons O-rings may fail. Knowing some of the most common causes of failure can help you know what to expect and when to act. Keep reading to learn what these causes are.


One of the most common causes of O-ring failure is abrasion. Visual indications of this problem include a grazed surface on the sliding contact fact of the O-ring or excessive wear and deep lacerations. You may also notice the O-ring has broken in certain places.

There are several reasons this damage may occur. In dynamic applications, abrasion can occur because of repetitive contact between the surface of the O-ring and the housing. This can result in too much friction between these two. Another common cause relates to improper lubrication. Also, the surface finish of the network may increase the risk and allow abrasive contaminants to reach the O-ring itself.

The best way to prevent this issue is to ensure adequate lubrication is used for the sealing system.

Chemical Attack

Based on the chemical media that is being sealed, the O-ring may show several signs of a problem, including discoloration, a change in overall hardness, cracking, or blisters.

Some chemicals react with specific elastomers. In some cases, this will increase the cross-link density, which creates a brittle and hard material. As this happens, it reduces the ability it has to provide the necessary reaction force. If chain scission occurs, it can reduce the strength of the O-ring, as well.

Before choosing the elastomer material to use, make sure the seal is compatible with the media being used. Sometimes, chemical-related attacks are made worse if the elastomer seal is put under stress. Knowing the best materials for the application will help you avoid this issue.

Chemical Swell

Does the O-ring seem bigger than its original size? If so, it could be consistent through the entire seal or in localized areas that were exposed to the chemical.

The swell can be the result of the ingress of the media into the elastomer. This is an increased seal volume, resulting in the component filling, extrusion, and no sealing power. If a chemical swell occurs, it may also result in the loss of tensile strength and other physical properties of the O-ring.

One of the best solutions to this issue is to choose an elastomer sealing material that has been proven to resist the chemical environment. You can work with the professionals to figure out what material you should use to withstand the chemicals used in your processes.

Purchasing the Right O-Rings for the Job

If you want to minimize the possibility of O-ring failure, knowing the common causes of this is best. It is also smart to work with a professional service provider that can help you find the best material for the job. With the right materials and components, you can feel confident

the seal made by the O-ring is going to withstand any environment.