Vacuum pumps are industrial workhorses, keeping the supply chain running and helping many sectors of industry to run smoothly. Unfortunately, pumps are susceptible to wear and tear, and there are many factors that can cause real maintenance issues. There are ways to keep your pump running smoothly between services, and we’ve compiled our top 7 here.
1. Check the oil regularly
This is the most important thing you can do to keep your pump running smoothly, as dirty oil can cause your vacuum pump to become saturated with contaminants, which reduces its efficiency. Change the oil according to the manual or if it looks dirty or smells off.
2. Warm up the pump with the inlet blocked.
To prevent vapours from condensing in the pump oil, run the pump for around 20-30 minutes with the inlet blocked before you connect it to your vacuum application. Installing a manual valve in-line will simplify the warm-up procedure.
3. Ensure the pump outlet isn’t blocked.
If the pump outlet is blocked it will, at best, cause the pump to stop. If you’re unlucky the overpressure in the pump will loosen the seal around the oil sight-glass, causing leaking, which will require repairing.
4. Protect the pump from corrosive vapors with an inlet cold trap.
A cold trap used at the inlet will protect the pump from corrosive vapours and reduce the vapour load on the pump, meaning it will operate more effectively. Make sure it is cold enough for your solvents. Liquid nitrogen, for example, should be used for very volatile solvents.
5. Use gas ballast when working with condensable vapors.
When pumping gas in a vacuum system, it will undoubtedly contain some vapour.
During the compression process, this vapour will condense, which if not removed will form a contaminant that will prevent the pump from achieving its optimum vacuum pressure. It may also enter the pump’s mechanism where it can have a detrimental effect.
A gas ballast valve incorporated into the system will allow a flow of air into the final part of the compression cycle and allow the vapour to be expelled without condensation or affecting the pump’s overall performance.
6. Protect the pump from particulate with an inlet filter
To keep abrasive particulates out of your pump oil and rotating mechanism use an inlet separator. Rubbing a little oil between your fingers will tell you whether there are particulates present. Installing an inline filter will extend the life of your oil.
7. Run the pump after use to purge solvents from the oil.
To purge solvents in the oil and reduce internal corrosion during the shutdown it can be useful to block the pump inlet, open the gas ballast and run the pump for a few minutes before shutting it off. Operating the pump near its ultimate vacuum level but with good airflow will help to prolong its life and keep it free from contaminants.