Written By: Corey Foy

Bearings are the unsung heroes of our machines. These workhorses keep things running smoothly, reducing friction and allowing for efficient movement. However, even these components can face challenges. Specifically, this blog post dives into the world of bearing corrosion, exploring its causes, consequences, and, most importantly, how to prevent it.

What is Bearing Corrosion?

Simply put, it is the deterioration of a bearing's surface due to a chemical reaction with its environment. This reaction can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Moisture: Water can cause rust on steel bearings and degrade lubricants, accelerating wear.
  • Contamination: Dust, dirt, and other contaminants can act as abrasives, damaging bearing surfaces and promoting corrosion.
  • Acids and Chemicals: Exposure to acids, alkalis, or other harsh chemicals can eat away at bearing materials.
  • Electrolytic Corrosion: When dissimilar metals come into contact in a wet environment, an electrical current can flow, causing corrosion on one of the metals.
  • Fretting Corrosion: Lastly, this occurs when slight movement between bearing components creates wear and exposes fresh metal to the environment, accelerating corrosion.

The Consequences

Specifically, Corrosion doesn't just make bearings look bad; in fact, it significantly impacts their performance and lifespan. Here's what you can expect:

  • Increased Friction: As the bearing surface gets roughened by corrosion, friction increases, leading to higher energy consumption and decreased efficiency.
  • Premature Wear: Corrosion weakens the bearing material, causing it to wear out faster and potentially fail prematurely.
  • Noise and Vibration: A corroded bearing will generate more noise and vibration, impacting the overall operation of the machine.
  • Seizure: In severe cases, corrosion can cause a bearing to seize entirely, leading to catastrophic equipment failure.

Prevention: A Proactive Approach

The good news is that bearing corrosion is largely preventable. Here are some key strategies:

  • Using the Right Bearing Material: Different bearing materials offer varying levels of corrosion resistance. Choose bearings made from materials suited for your application's environment.
  • Proper Lubrication: High-quality lubricant creates a barrier between the bearing surface and its environment, reducing friction and preventing corrosion. Regularly reapplying lubricant based on your manufacturer's recommendations is crucial.
  • Sealing and Contamination Control: Implement effective seals to prevent the entry of moisture, dirt, and other contaminants.
  • Galvanic Compatibility: When you using bearings with multiple components, ensure they're made from compatible materials.
  • Storage and Handling: Store bearings in a dry, clean environment and handle them carefully to avoid damage that can accelerate corrosion.
  • Regular Inspection: Regularly inspect bearings for signs of corrosion and wear. Early detection allows for timely intervention and prevents catastrophic failures.

In conclusion, it is important to understand the causes and consequences of bearing corrosion. Furthermore, by implementing these preventive measures, you can ensure your bearings operate smoothly and efficiently for years to come. Remember, a little proactive maintenance can save you a lot of trouble (and money) down the road.

If you want to browse 49 North's products, check out our online store here. Alternatively, if you have ever wanted to learn how to understand a viscosity chart, check out this blog here.

Lastly, for any questions please call 1.800.463.0354 and speak to our Technical Specialist - Corey Foy or email info@49northlubricants.com.