The Importance of Routine Pump Maintenance

Proper periodic maintenance is keyIn order to maximize the life of your pump, it is crucial to perform the proper periodic maintenance at designated intervals.

The key to a good pump maintenance program is preventive maintenance. This includes adjusting and tuning up equipment and detecting and correcting minor problems before they become major problems. Routine pump maintenance not only maximizes a pump’s lifespan, it saves money with increased pump availability, improved productivity, and decreased repair costs.

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Limited, preventive maintenance checks should be conducted after every eight hours of operation. Full service maintenance is recommended after every 250 hours of operation. Be sure to record all maintenance activities for future reference. And always refer to the pump manufacturer and the engine manufacturer maintenance manuals before performing maintenance or repairs to the pump.

Safety is first. Always shut down the unit and allow it to cool before performing any maintenance.

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Routine maintenance after every eight hours of operation:
• For engine driven pumps, engine fluid levels and conditions should be checked after every eight hours of operation. In excessively cold or excessively hot weather, oil and coolant specifications may need adjusted. Be sure to refer to the engine manufacturer’s recommendations.
• Next, check the fuel system. Open the filler neck to check the fuel level or, if equipped, observe the fuel gauge, but make sure that the unit is level. Inspect all fuel lines, clamps, and connections for cracks, leaks, breaks or dark lines.
• If the pump is equipped with a water-cooled engine, the engine coolant level should be at or just below the filler neck in the radiator and the condition of fluid must be clean and free of oil. Be aware that certain types of coolant do not mix. Color is normally a good indicator of the coolant type, but not an absolute differentiator.  Check the MSDS to be sure.
• Continuing the eight-hour maintenance, the engine oil should be clean and the level should be within the operating range on the dipstick. Verify that the radiator core is clean and free of any debris or residue. If applicable, check the air filter and air-restriction gauge and clean the dust port.
• If the pump is equipped with an air cooled engine, inspect the oil cooler to be sure that the cooling fins are clean and free of debris.
Routine maintenance after every 250 hours of operation includes several advanced assessments, replacements, and lubrications:
• On the diesel engine, drain the engine oil. Be sure to use the engine manufacturer’s recommend oil type and dispose of used oil in a manner that is compatible with the environment. Replace the oil filter.
• Drain and replace the fuel filter. If applicable, check the air filter and air-restriction gauge and clean the dust port. Replace the engine inlet air filter.
• If equipped with a compressor-assisted priming system that is not integral to the engine, replace the inlet air filter on the air compressor. This is not required if the compressor is integral to the engine.
• Continuing the 250-hour maintenance, visually inspect the overall condition of the pumpset and note any items for further inspection. Check for signs of wear and leaking such as spots on the block, pump, priming system or the frame.
• Check all of the pump’s fittings, nuts, bolts and flanges, including mounting feet, for tightness. Inspect all the wiring, battery cables, and the fluid level in the battery. Use caution and wear appropriate eye and skin protection when opening battery ports.
• Check the fan, belts, hoses, guards and tensioner. Belt guards must be in place and free of cracks or damage. Engine belts must not be cracked, frayed or torn. If the unit is equipped with one, be sure the tensioner is operational and has restricted movement.
• Examine the radiator hoses and clamps; check for tightness or cracking, leaks or damage.
• Also, inspect the pump’s suction and discharge hose connections and clamps to make sure they are not loose or damaged.  
• Locate points that need to be greased or oiled. These areas are painted in red and outlined in the operation and maintenance manual.  Do not grease the mechanical seal while the unit is running. And only use two pumps of a hand-operated grease gun to grease the mechanical seal.
• Furthermore, be sure to check the discharge priming valve. Gaskets and O-rings should be smooth to the touch upon inspection.

While pump is running, monitor heat, flow, noise, speed.While the pump is running, monitor the following:
• Heat
• Flow
• Noise
• Speed
• Strain
• Pressure
• Vibration
• Liquid level
• Power Consumption
• Product contamination
• Leakage and Emissions

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Use of the pump in dusty, dirty, wet or otherwise adverse conditions may require more frequent inspection and maintenance.

Top Tips for Pump Maintenance
1. Safety First
2. Prioritize maintenance
3. Perform pre-shift inspections
4. Use maintenance logs
5. Audits those maintenance logs
6. Adhere to suggested maintenance intervals
7. Match the application to the use
8. Plan to avoid emergency repairs
9. Perform good housekeeping
10. Fix the root cause of a problem,
not the symptom
11. Keep common parts in stock
12. Use only genuine OEM parts
13. Read and make copies of the manufacturer’s manual
14. Commit to an employee training program or outsource to pump professionals
15. Operate the pump within its designed limitations

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The quality and timeliness of pump maintenance and repairs can make a real impact on the bottom line. Having an outside trained service technician perform these tasks may increase the initial cost of the service when compared to using staff, but a trained technician will do the job correctly and identify components inclined to fail — which avoids downtime and damage in the long run. Thus, reducing repair costs throughout the life of the pump and resulting in savings much more than the initial cost of a service call.

A good pump maintenance provider should offer 24-hour emergency service to provide on-site repairs or transportation to a full-service facility to enable quick repairs that minimize downtime and get you back to business faster. Look for a service company that provides their pump technicians with continuous product and repair training to assure they stay up-to-date on the constant evolution of pump and engine technologies and practices. A provider who is able to maintain and repair many different types and brands of pumps, including competitor’s pumps, is ideal for one stop shop time savings.

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Utilizing a factory-owned full-service pump service provider provides multiple benefits:
• Rental pumps are often available to keep the project on task in the unfortunate cir-cumstances of a major repair.
• Parts are usually stocked and readily available for most brands, makes and models. Automatic scheduling is avail¬able for pump preventative maintenance.
• In-house full repair capabilities are assured to be up-to-date and efficient for quality repair turnaround.

When choosing a maintenance and service provider, you should expect quality, value and timeliness. Qualified pump technicians assure your investment is well maintained and repaired. Utilizing factory trained pump technicians for scheduled and emergency field repairs ensures that every service is done right the first time and that you get answers to questions and solutions to challenges that can help you avoid future failures down the road.

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Kirsten Petersen Stroud is marketing manager at Thompson Pump, based in Port Orange, Fla.

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