6 Common Causes of Pump Failure
Pump failure can be a devastating problem for manufacturers. When a pump stops working effectively, it can stall an entire production line and take a long time to fix. Manufacturing maintenance techs should know the common causes of pump failure, and learn how to identify and assess them before they cause a breakdown.
Keep reading for six of the most common causes of pump failure, and learn to recognize the signs, so you can fix them quickly.
1. Damaged or leaking mechanical seals
Failing to prime a pump, or improperly lubricating it, will quickly dry out the seals. Dry seals tend to crack and leak. To prevent this common problem, create a protective fluid barrier around the seal by priming pumps before starting them. And verify you’re using the correct seal for the fluid running through your pumps.
2. Bearing malfunction or failure
It’s difficult to ignore the signs of failing bearings. Excessive vibration, unusual noise, or abnormal heat during operation are all signals that a faulty bearing is to blame. Don’t wait for your pump to lock up before you investigate. Remediation and prevention are usually as simple as routine, proper lubrication. Never mix lubricants, and don’t over grease.
3. Impeller malfunction or failure
Impeller erosion is another common cause of pump failure. Corrosion is usually created by a combination of a lack of maintenance and the routine wear caused by whatever fluid is being pumped. Cavitation (i.e., air in the line) only accelerates this issue and can sometimes lead to an abrupt failure in critical circumstances. To prevent impeller malfunction or failure, use a routine inspection schedule for early problem recognition.
4. Buildup or contamination
Pump buildup is occasionally inevitable and caused by wear from whatever substance is continuously flowing through the pump. Buildup happens most often at pump intake and outflow points, and regular cleaning is necessary to ensure buildup and/or contamination issues don’t hamper a pump’s function. Buildup can lead to failure, and the simplest way to prevent this pump problem is regularly scheduled cleaning.
5. Improper lubrication
Lubrication is essential for preserving pump seals, but it’s also the backbone of healthy pump operation. Be sure to choose the proper lubricant composition and viscosity, and follow an OEM-recommended lubrication schedule. Signs of improper lubrication are difficult to ignore and include excessive temperature, vibration, and noise.
6. Human error
Operator or maintenance tech errors are often responsible for pump failure. Following standard operating procedures (SOPs) for proper pump operation and service minimizes the potential for human error, as will implementing checks and balances to ensure pumps are not put into operation without passing critical safety standards. If root cause analysis shows operator error as a source of failure, you may need to revise your SOPs and retrain operating and maintenance staff.
Pumps are critical pieces of equipment
Pumps are essential pieces of factory equipment, but they can be fickle. They require constant attention and thorough servicing to keep them free of defects. Make routine pump service a priority to keep ahead of potential problems with pumps and the factory machinery relying on them.