Turbine Oils Protection

Protect against Varnish Buildup

Many reliability engineers see varnish buildup as just a way of life that can only be addressed after operating problems occur. But the cost of waiting to fix that problem is more than you’d think, because the related hidden costs can add up before you even realize you have a varnish problem in the first place.



The best way to prevent varnish from attacking your equipment is to detect it early and take decisive action. As we look more closely, a new problem begins to emerge: assumptions about varnish-related issues might be costing engineers more than they realize in the long run:

  • Varnish isn’t always considered a top priority vs others needing immediate attention and efforts.
  • Varnish is an issue that leads to other problems like valve stiction, reduced oil cooler performance, failure to start and trip event.
  • The estimated ongoing maintenence costs to combat varnish build up: USD 40,000 per turbine, per year



To defeat varnish, you first must understand it

How much do you really know about varnish?

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the ways varnish impacts your operation, including why it forms in the first place, which equipment types and operating conditions are more likely to experience varnish formation, and how some methods work—and don’t work—when you’re trying to halt varnish buildup in its tracks.


Are there different types of varnish?

Yes. And the treatment—or removal—of varnish depends on the type of varnish that has formed and how it was generated in the first place.

What are some of the most impactful costs associated with a reactive varnish approach that we might not realize are building up?

There are several examples of costs and fines associated with varnish buildup in combustion turbines. The costs may include chemical treatments, parts replacement for plugged filters, and the actual labor costs to replace those filters. Additionally, there may be fines and lost revenue for turbine trip events or failures to start. 

How do we measure varnish formation or impact in between drains or flushing when the equipment is still running?

There are several laboratories that perform tests to identify the varnish precursors in the oil before varnish forms in the turbine systems. Some of these include membrane filter patch tests or colorimeter tests. 

Oil analysis

Solution to your Varnish problem

Varnish-related issues can only be solved cost-effectively with a proactive solution, not a reactive one—and that means starting with a turbine oil that reduces the amount of varnish created and establishing an effective predictive maintenance program so that you can also reduce the risk of outage events..

The experts at Caltex Lubricants have developed a new cleaning solution to help you protect equipment from varnish and ensure peak productivity in your operation - The VARTECH™ Industrial System Cleaner (ISC).


LubeWatch® Oil Analysis Program

Track the performance of your turbine lubricants to optimize equipment life, oil replacement intervals, and help the precise scheduling of maintenance that reduces downtime and the risk of failure. Include this into your preventive maintanence program today.