5 secrets to increase the life of a pump
Have you tried anti-ageing cream on your pumps? No, it didn't work for us, either.
If you're responsible for looking after pumps you'll know that it can be a bit nerve-racking at times, particularly towards the end of a pump's life. There are early warning signs but sometimes a pump can suddenly go down, leaving you high and (literally!) dry. Here's 5 top tips on how you can increase the life of your pump after it's been specified and installed, with some specific examples to help implement these ideas.
1. Check the water temperature
Pumps always come with a maximum and minimum temperature rating. The seal is often the most likely part to fail outside of those design temperatures. You should check what these temperatures are for your pumps; they'll be available online if you don't have the original manual to hand. You'll then need to check the temperature of the fluid being pumped. If you haven't got a temperature gauge already you can pretty cheaply buy a non-contact infrared thermometer. Then if it's too high, look at ways of reducing it. For example, if it's on a primary heating circuit, do you really need the circuit to be at that temperature, or can it be lower? If it's a submersible pump in a pit, is there any way you can reduce the temperature of the water before it gets to the pit? Bear in mind that there's a maximum temperature for wastewater sent to mains drainage of around 40-45 degrees Celsius, depending on where you're located.
2. Cut down on start/stops per hour
A pump puts increased load on the motor when it starts up. That's fairly obvious considering it has to build up momentum, and to start with it's pushing against a dead head of water. What this means is that the life of the pump can almost be measured in how many times it starts. Consider ways you can reduce the number of times your pump starts and stops per hour. For example, if you have a booster set you could increase the size of the expansion vessel, or adjust the parameters to allow for greater flexibility.
3. Reduce the load on the pump
The pump is working at its hardest when it's pumping a high flow at low pressure (relative to the duty point of the pump). Look at ways to change the load on the pump. Do you need all that pressure on the cold water? It's nice to be getting 3 bar from the kitchen tap, but it uses more water and puts extra load on the pump. Do you need the heating on all day? If you can turn it off for a period in the middle of the day, you'll save on the pump wear as well as the energy bill.
4. Consider Soft Starting mechanisms
You know that sound when your pumps kick into life? As mentioned above, it really does put a strain on the pump every time they start. This can be largely overcome by installing a device for a 'soft start' on the pump - where the pump ramps up more slowly to full power, rather than being full on from the word go. A inverter, or variable speed drive (VSD), will usually have a soft start function built in, and if you don't want to go for a full VSD you can install a soft starter.
5. Ensure duplex pump systems have duty changeover
Any system with two or more pumps in should be configured to take turns at being the duty pump. This means that each time a pump is called for, a different pump comes on. There are several ways this can be done, but the end result is always the same. It spreads the load between the pumps, and prevents any one pump sitting idle for a long time (which is always bad for a pump, particularly one which has a self-lubricating seal). If you don't have this function already, get in touch to discuss the options. They're often not expensive, and can make a big difference on how long your pumps last. The VSD's that we install include an intelligent system which always chooses the pump with the least hours run, so regardless of which pump ran last it will always keep their usage balanced.
With our experience of working on pump systems, we've found the above five techniques to be the most overlooked, beneficial, and easy to implement ways to increase the life of your pump after it's been installed. It's got to be specified correctly, it's got to be maintained properly, but those things are often pretty well taken care of. Remember that not all of these suggestions will work for every system, but open your mind to alternative options. For example, now you know what makes big differences, maybe having another look at variable speed drives is more worthwhile.
If you want any support with implementing these, contact us now - it's what we do!