A barber’s workspace and work conditions revolve around their barber chair—the place where all the magic happens. It is where they transform shabby locks into stylish cuts, bringing out each client’s personality and style through their hair. The experience at the barber chair forms client and barber relationships and determines customer experiences. Hence, a reliable and fully functioning barber chair is not just an equipment piece or furniture—it is an essential ingredient to a barber’s artistry and a barbershop’s success.
Hydraulic systems play a crucial role in properly functioning barber chairs, allowing barbers to adjust the chair’s height and reposition the clients in a position more comfortable and ideal for work. A failed hydraulics mechanic can cause multiple issues, jeopardizing the barbers’ performance, customer comfort, and the overall result of the haircut or shave. Keep everything at your barbershop running smoothly with our ultimate guide to fixing barber chair hydraulics. Reduce the risks of malfunctioning chairs in the shop.
Understanding the Basics of Chair Hydraulics
Before diving into repairs, it’s crucial to understand the basic functioning of barber chair hydraulics. The hydraulic system of a barber chair operates on a relatively simple yet effective principle—Pascal’s principle of pressure.
At the system’s core is a hydraulic pump, a small piston that moves within a cylinder. When the barber steps on the foot pedal, it pushes the piston down, compressing the hydraulic fluid (typically oil). The pressure from the compressed fluid then pushes another piston in the system upward, lifting the chair and allowing for easy height adjustments.
When the barber releases the foot pedal, the hydraulic fluid decompresses and flows back into its reservoir, enabling the chair to lower under the weight of the client. This fluid movement creates a smooth, controlled motion, allowing for precise chair adjustments to cater to the needs of both the barber and the client.
Detecting Hydraulic Issues
The first step in fixing a problem is identifying it. Recognizing the early signs and potential causes of a hydraulic fault can help barbers address issues proactively and ensure the longevity of their equipment. Some key indicators to look for include slow or no chair lift, oil leaks, or inability to maintain a specific height. Persistent issues with these functions could indicate a fault in the hydraulic system.
Signs of Hydraulic Malfunctioning
Inefficient Height Adjustment
The main purpose of a barber chair’s hydraulics system is streamlined height adjustment. If the chair is not lifting or lowering smoothly or requires considerable effort to adjust the height, it may indicate a problem with the hydraulic pump or the hydraulic fluid.
Inability To Maintain Height
A functioning hydraulics system allows you to maintain your desired height after adjustment. A chair that slowly sinks or rises without any manual adjustment signals a hydraulics issue with the mechanical system.
Hydraulic systems operate on fluid pressure. However, you typically don’t see any of this fluid. Any visible signs of oil leakage around the chair, especially near the base or the hydraulic pump, could point toward a malfunctioning system. Leakages can occur for many different reasons, including a cracked hose or a faulty seal.
Unusual noises are a universal sign of malfunction, no matter the issue at hand or the system in question. If you hear odd squeaking, clicking, or groaning when adjusting the chair, you probably have a malfunctioning hydraulic system. Unusual sounds typically arise from a lack of lubrication, air trapped within the system, or mechanical damage to the hydraulic pump.
Potential Causes for Hydraulic Malfunctions
Hydraulic Fluid Leakage
One of the leading causes of a malfunctioning hydraulic system is a leak in the hydraulic fluid. This issue can result from cracked hoses or faulty seals within the system, leading to a decrease in fluid pressure and hampering the chair’s ability to maintain a specific height.
Air entering the hydraulic system can lead to a variety of issues. The presence of air bubbles within the hydraulic fluid can cause the chair to behave erratically when adjusting height, resulting in a jerky, uncontrolled motion. It can also cause unusual noises during operation.
Worn Out Seals or Components
Over time, the constant pressure and usage can wear out the seals within the hydraulic pump or other critical components. This wear and tear can lead to inefficiencies in the system, such as the inability to maintain height or a slow response to adjustments.
Insufficient or Degraded Hydraulic Fluid
The hydraulic fluid is the lifeblood of the hydraulic system. If the fluid level is too low or the fluid quality has degraded due to age, it can negatively impact the system’s functionality.
Any form of mechanical damage, such as a broken foot pedal or a damaged piston, can significantly impact the chair’s hydraulic operations.
Required Tools for Repair
Before you begin any reparations, you need the right tools for the job. Some essentials for any hydraulics system repair include the following.
- Rubber gloves
- Hydraulic fluid (oil-based or water-based, depending on your system)
- Replacement seals, cylinders, and O-rings
- A cloth or mat to avoid staining your floors
- Wrench and screwdrivers
Starting the Repairs
Hydraulic repairs involve multiple steps and can vary depending on the issue. The basic repairs of a hydraulic system include:
Dismantling and Locating the Hydraulic Pump
The first step in the repair procedure is to remove the chair from the hydraulic base. Once you remove the chair, use an appropriate-sized wrench to open the hydraulic pump assembly. The main contraption of the hydraulic pump is typically underneath the base.
Inspecting and Replacing the Seal
Once you open the hydraulic pump, check for any visible damages on the seal or O-ring. If damaged, replace it with a new one. Generally, the standard size for most barber chairs is 25mm.
Refilling the Hydraulic Fluid
After replacing the seal, it’s time to refill the hydraulic pump with hydraulic fluid. Make sure to fill it up to the recommended level. Too little fluid can lead to poor functionality, while too much can result in leaks.
Reassembling the Chair
After refilling, carefully reassemble the pump and the chair. Ensure all parts are tightly secured to prevent leaks or loose parts.
Testing the Chair
Following the reassembly, it’s crucial to test the chair’s functionality. Adjust the chair’s height and recline it to ensure the hydraulics function correctly.
Regular Maintenance for Longevity
A properly functioning barber chair offers many benefits, from maximized customer comfort to enhanced work conditions for the barber. With a regular maintenance routine, including inspections and pump lubrication, you can prolong the life of your barber chair and ensure the hydraulics system remains in top shape.
With this guide to fixing barber chair hydraulics, you can enjoy your all-purpose barber chairs for longer and reap the many benefits of functioning chairs. Don’t let hydraulic malfunctions hinder your barbershop business and client experiences!
If your chair is beyond repair, don’t despair. Shop for replacements with Keller International. Check out our selection of all-purpose chairs.