A pump maintenance program would generally involve a periodic check of the pump performance, an inspection of the wearing parts and lubrication of bearings and joints. Spotting an issue early is one of the best methods of troubleshooting and preventing pump breakdown. Routine pump maintenance helps keep the system performing efficiently.
As often as required, carefully inspect mounting points, seals and packing, pump flanges, filters, and couplings for signs of damage, leaks, or accumulation of grease, dirt, or debris to ensure that the pumps function optimally. Most of the things to look out for should be easily visible, these include:
- Leaks – Check the pump and pipework for any leaks that need to be dealt with, as they will result in reduced performance and loss of pump output as well as mess. Common leaking points are from the stuffing box or the mechanical seals. Mechanical seals are a wearing part and need to be routinely replaced.
- Unusual noise – One of the first signs of a problem with your pump is noise. Like anything with a motor, a consistent hum when the pump is running is quite normal. However, abnormally loud noises or a clunking or crunching sound is likely to indicate an issue e.g. worn bearings. A popping sound, particularly if it is near the impeller, could mean the pump is experiencing cavitation which can cause a lot of damage.
- Extreme vibration – A properly installed, well-working pump should not overly vibrate, and therefore any level of vibration deemed excessive should be investigated. Common causes include impeller imbalance, damage, and misalignment of the pump and motor.
- Corrosion – Rusting, cracking or discoloration of the pump casing or pipework need to be acted on immediately as these are all signs of corrosion. Corrosion can not only result in pump failure through a weakening of the casing and components, but also contamination of the fluid being pumped.
- Overheating – The pump, motor, or bearings getting really hot is not something that should be ignored as it always indicates some form of problem. Some explanations may be internal rubbing/wearing of parts, that the wrong power has been put into the pump, the pump has been running against a deadhead or that it has been running at a duty it cannot efficiently maintain.
- Clogging – The presence of solids can result in the clogging of impellers or valves if the pump is not capable of handling the size of the solids that have attempted to pass through. You will usually notice clogging quite quickly as the pump will not be delivering the same quantities of fluid.
Replacing the lubrication
Changing the lubricant in your centrifugal pump is essential to prevent damage of the bearings, but it must be scheduled according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You might, however, want to increase the frequency of replacement if you use the pumps more frequently than indicated.
Inspecting the electric motor
The electric motor is the powerhouse of the pump. Since it contains both mechanical and electronic components, it requires frequent maintenance to function correctly. Include physical inspection and testing of the motor in your pump maintenance schedule to check for loose electrical connections, faulty windings, blocked vents, overheating problems, etc.
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