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Cole-Parmer Technical Library

Sure Signs Your Pump Needs a Tune-Up!

Whether your equipment is new, or part of a system found sitting unused on a dusty shelf, a pump maintenance and reconditioning program is key to long-term system performance!

by Mike Whitaker, Service Supervisor, InnoCal® Calibration Services


If you’ve been hearing faint grinding, whirring, or popping coming from your pump system—or if you’re about to begin a critical process run you cannot afford to have interrupted—it may be time to get your system overhauled. Periodic pump maintenance is the best way to ensure your equipment continues to operate at optimum levels...or in some cases that it continues to operate at all.

Benefits of a Pump Maintenance Program
Periodic pump maintenance ensures optimal equipment performance and prevents unplanned shutdowns and failures. It saves money by extending the useful service life of existing equipment and reduces capital expenditures. Plus, it can be used to establish independent documentation and record keeping when you must meet ISO and quality guidelines.

Preventive Maintenance
There are sure signs that a pump is ailing and may be about to break down. If these signs should manifest, you will want to pull the pump off line immediately and have it checked out by a qualified service technician.

Put simply, you know your pump needs a tune-up when:

  • Pressure/flow rates within the system fluctuate abnormally
  • There is very little or no flow passing through the system
  • The motor or pump head is making excessive noise or is hotter than normal
  • The motor intermittently kicks out on overload
  • Components exhibit abnormal wear (powder, dust, or shavings are evident)
  • Pump leaks fluid

Predictive Maintenance
Instead of waiting for signs of trouble, many companies follow a program of Predictive Maintenance, in which they schedule a pump to be taken off line and rebuilt based on the average time a certain type of pump should last under specified operating conditions. For example, based on an eight-hour-per-day running cycle, diaphragm or metering pumps should last six to 12 months; the gears on gear pumps should last three to six months; and motors should last for years—although many DC motors require periodic brush replacement. It is recommended this be done every nine months (45 weeks).

Having a Pump Reconditioned
Not all plants and laboratories are liquid enough to have a pump specialist on the payroll. If your facility is in this position, you should ask your pump distributor if they offer a factory-authorized service, or if they can recommend a trained technician in your area.

In either case, you should expect the following services to be performed:

  • Pump disassembly and cleaning
    The pump should be disassembled. All parts should then be cleaned and degreased.
  • Pump parts inspection
    After disassembly, each part should be carefully inspected and compared to manufacturer tolerance to ensure proper operation. All warn parts should then be noted on an inspection/service report that will accompany the newly reconditioned pump.
  • Replacement of all wearable parts
    During pump re-assembly, all parts subject to wear should be replaced. This would include:
    • Gears, bearings, and bushings
    • Motor brushes, grease
    • Valves, diaphragms, and seals
  • Performance/safety checks
    After the pump has been re-assembled to manufacturer’s specifications, it should be thoroughly tested for performance and safety. These checks can take from two to 72 hours, depending upon the type of pump and its application.
  • Asset tagging
    Finally, the pump should be given a tag showing the date it was checked and the date it will be due for its next service.
  • Inspection/service report
    When the pump is returned to your facility, it should be accompanied by an inspection/service report unique to the instrument that contains a checklist of items inspected and replaced—with any abnormal parts wear duly noted.

More Details or Order Online:

InnoCal Pump Reconditioning Program (full details to come)

Routine Maintenance
One way to ensure your pump does not end up on a repair bench—or in the trash heap—prematurely, is to perform routine maintenance as recommended in the manufacturer’s operating manual. This generally consists of keeping the pump housing clean and the drive well-lubricated.

Don’t forget: a well-maintained pump is a happy pump.

Mike Whitaker is the service supervisor for InnoCal® Calibration Services. He has more than 15 years of experience in scientific instrument and pump repair, and each year handles hundreds of service calls, aiding customers with their fluid handling needs.

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