Troubleshooting is the process of solving problems in systems. Effective trouble­ shooting requires a good understanding of pneumatics and the flow circuit in trouble. Safety is an important consideration when troubleshooting circuits. Very often high pressures and large loads are involved. Always ensure that you, and the machine, are protected from injury that could occur during analysis, testing, or repair. The follow­ ing is a general troubleshooting procedure.


The first step is to gain a practical understanding of the pneumatic system. This under­ standing must begin with a design review. Study the circuit and its diagram to be sure you understand the function of the circuit and the air flow paths under all operating conditions.

After studying the circuit and observing the problem, you should have an indication of where the problem is occurring. If the problem cannot be pinpointed, the following steps outline an overall troubleshooting program.

First, check for obvious problems, such as inadequate air pressure, large leaks, empty lubricators, clogged filters, or plugged or chinked air lines, that would result in system failure or reduced efficiency. Then, check the control valves to ensure that they are shifting properly. Valves are usually very durable, but they can cause problems in the long run or if they are improperly maintained. If electrical or mechanical actuators are used, these should also be inspected to ensure proper operation.

Actuators, such as cylinders and air motors, should then be tested for proper function. Again, it should be stressed that an understanding of the concepts of pneumatics and a thorough knowledge of the circuit are the most important aspects of successfully trou­ bleshooting a circuit.

In many cases, these simple steps can be used to isolate problems that result in partial or complete failure of pneumatic circuits. In those cases where these steps fail to find the problem, each of the system’s components must be tested for proper operation.

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