SUBJECT: A sensible preventative
maintenance program for centrifugal pumps, cheat sheet
TO INSTALL CONSTANT MONITORING. With proper instrumentation
you can tell:
- If the fluid in the stuffing box is about to change state and
fail the mechanical seal.
- It could vaporize.
- It could solidify.
- It could crystallize.
- It could become viscous.
- It could build a film on the sliding surfaces and between
the lapped faces.
- The differential pressure between the suction and the
discharge can tell you how far you are operating the pump from its
best efficiency point (BEP).
- The suction pressure can tell you if cavitation is about to
- Comparing flow to amperage can tell you if you need an
- Comparing flow to amperage can tell you if the wear rings need
- A probe in the bearing case or an infra red light can tell you
if the bearing temperature is too high.
- A drop in capacity with no change in amperage consumption
could tell you the open impeller needs adjusting
- Be sure the pump and motor pedestal is at least five times the
mass of the hardware sitting on it.
- Be sure there are ten diameters of pipe between the pump
suction and the first elbow in the suction piping to prevent
- Be sure piping reducers have not been installed upside down.
They will trap air that will eventually enter the pump
- Dynamic balance the rotating parts of the pump.
- Do your pump to driver alignment at operating
- Eliminate pipe strain.
- Be sure the initial impeller adjustment is made at the pump
- Be sure the vertical pump stuffing box is vented to a low
point in the system.
- Use suction recirculation for most seal applications.
- Insure the bearing oil is being changed on a regular
- Insure that no water or solids are getting into the bearing
case. Replace the grease or lip seals with labyrinth or positive
- Stagger pipe hangers.
- Do not use hardened shafts, the seal set-screws can slip.
OPERATING PRACTICES WILL LOWER MAINTENANCE PROBLEMS
- Do not pump the supply tank dry.
- Be sure the tank vent is clear and will not freeze in cold
- Run as close as possible to the pump B.E.P. You may have to
reduce the impeller diameter to do this.
- Be sure to keep any environmental controls functioning when
the pump is stopped.
- Remember that constant running is easier on bearings and
SENSIBLE DESIGN FEATURES TO LESSEN MAINTENANCE PROBLEMS
- Make sure that the pump shaft L3/D4 is
less than 60 (2.0 in the metric system).
- Use the double volute design whenever possible.
- Be sure the suction specific speed number is less than
- Specify a C or D frame adapter.
- Specify a Centerline design pump.
- Look for designs that adjust the open impeller from the wet
end of the pump.
- Specify a positive bearing retention method. A simple snap
ring is not good enough.
- Specify face seals for the bearing case, with an expansion
chamber installed on the bearing case vent.
- Install a sight glass or dip stick to check the oil level in
the bearing case.
- Do not use grease fittings on the bearing housing. If you are
going to use grease, hand pack the bearings.
- Use only a solid pump shaft for mechanical seals.
- Specify a duplex metal for impellers to get the combination of
wear and corrosion resistance.
- Be sure there is adequate N.P.S.H. for the application.
- Specify the large diameter stuffing box for mechanical seals.
Do not use tapered versions.
- Select the correct diameter impeller to stay within 10% of the
best efficiency point.
- Be sure the impeller to cutwater clearance is no less than 4%
of the impeller diameter to avoid cavitation problems.
YOU MUST OPERATE OFF THE BEP
- Stabilize the shaft
- Be sure the shaft L3/D4 is less than
60 (2.0 in the metric pumps).
- Try to specify a double volute design if possible.
- Stabilize the shaft with a suitable non-sparking
- Move the seal close to the bearing. You can do this with a
stuffing box extension.
- Provide bearing oil cooling if the application is hot and you
are concerned about soak temperature through the shaft.
- Watch out for cavitation problems if you are operating on the
high capacity side of the pump curve.
- Throttle only the discharge side of the pump, never the
suction side unless you are certain that the extra heat caused by
discharge throttling will flash the product.
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