Why Ultrasonic Cleaning Systems Fail and How to Prevent It

The principles of how an ultrasonic cleaning system works are fairly simple to understand. Ultrasonic cleaning is one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly ways to get excellent cleaning results for a wide variety of materials.

Transducers within a tank of liquid, generally a mix of chemical solution and water, send sound waves through the liquid causing a process called cavitation. The high frequencies of the soundwaves create a cavity, trapped as a bubble in the liquid solution, which then implodes with a force strong enough to dislodge the contaminants on the item being cleaned. This highly effective cleaning method ensures that even hard-to-reach places or parts too small for manual cleaning, such as hinges, valves and screw heads, will all be thoroughly cleaned by the end of the process.

Ultrasonic cleaners aren’t infallible, however, and they can break down or fail. Here are some ways that can cause the cleaner to break down and a few things to do that can help to prevent it:


Plumbing problems

  • Leaks. These can develop over time with ultrasonic cleaning machines and if these aren’t spotted in regular maintenance and service checks it can mean that the tank drains causing the transducers or generator circuits to overheat, resulting in generator failure.


Electrical problems

  • Short-circuiting. Plumbing problems can cause water solutions to be atomized over the transducers, causing arcing and short-circuiting of the electronics.
  • Incorrect voltage. If the cleaner is connected to too low a voltage, then the fan won’t work, meaning that the machine will burn out.
  • Fan failure. If the machine is in a room where the ambient temperature is high or where the air is full of debris such as dust or lint, blocking the fan up, then it can eventually fail meaning the electrics burn out.
  • Worn out electrical parts. Transducers, radiating surfaces and electrical cabling will all eventually need to be replaced as they do wear out.


Poor user problems

  • Damage to the radiating surface. If baskets or items to be cleaned are placed on the radiating surface causing scratches it will reduce the effectiveness of the machine and eventually lead to needing to replace the inside of the tank. These do eventually wear out and need replacing but taking care of them will prolong their lifespan.
  • Carelessness. Spraying, splashing or spilling liquids can cause damage to electrical parts or corrode areas that shouldn’t have chemicals on them.
  • Using corrosive chemicals or the wrong solutions can cause damage to the machine’s parts.


How to spot a problem before it breaks down

There are various things you can look out for to prevent a total breakdown of the machine. These include:

  1. A drop in ultrasonic power
  2. Loss of cleaning efficiency
  3. Increased chemical consumption
  4. Poor drainage
  5. Heating issues
  6. Noisy operation

For some ways to check if your machine is working at peak performance check out our blog.


How to prevent a failure on your ultrasonic cleaner

Prevention is always better than cure, so regular maintenance of your machine will help to ensure against a breakdown.


Make sure you use the right solutions in the tank and after use, empty, rinse and dry the tank to prevent the build-up of deposits and contaminants as these will reduce the effectiveness of the machine. Clean out the drain regularly and check the fans are clear.

Follow instructions

Always use the right volume of liquid, the correct temperature and amount of time in the machine for the item. Ensure that you don’t clean items that are unsuitable and pre-clean heavily soiled items as much as possible before using the machine, as this will prevent more contaminants building up in the tank.


Have your machine regularly serviced and maintained to check for wear and tear. Regular servicing will help to see when there are parts that need to be replaced and hopefully prevent a breakdown from occurring.


At EJ Ultrasonics, we have over 40 years in the field of ultrasonic cleaning ensuring we are a name you can trust. We are experts at the repair, maintenance and service of all ultrasonic cleaning machines.

To prevent your machine from breaking down we recommend regular professional servicing and offer a range of service plans to suit your business and machine requirements. A service plan is an economical investment to preventing a costly breakdown and repair, which would be more inconvenient for the functioning of your business. Get in touch to book your service today.