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OPERATORS GUIDE TO CENTRIFUGAL PUMPS

WHAT EVERY RELIABILITY-MINDED OPERATOR NEEDS TO KNOW


ROBERT X. PEREZ

Copyright 2008 by Robert X. Perez.


Library of Congress Control Number: 2008904945
ISBN:

Hardcover

978-1-4363-3985-8

Softcover

978-1-4363-3984-1

Ebook

9781462803453

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Contents
Preface
Acknowledgements
Chapter 1
The Operators Mission
Chapter 2
Centrifugal Pump Primer, Part I
Chapter 2 Bonus
Bernoullis Principle Explained
Chapter 3
Centrifugal Pump Primer, Part II
Chapter 4
Centrifugal Pump Primer, Part III
Chapter 5
How to Protect Your Mechanical Seals
Chapter 6
Motors 101 for Operators
Chapter 7
Pump Lubrication in a Nutshell
Chapter 8
10 Ways to Protect Your Pumps
Chapter 8 Bonus
Pump Design and Installation Problems Operators Should Look Out For
Chapter 9
How to Start-up a Centrifugal Pump, Part I
Chapter 10
How to Start-up a Centrifugal Pump, Part II
Chapter 11
Introduction to Field Troubleshooting
Chapter 12
The Road to Reliable Pumps
Appendix A
Illustrated Glossary of
Centrifugal Pump Terms1
Appendix B
Glossary of Electric Motor Terms2
Appendix C
Basic Centrifugal Pumps Formulas

Dedication
To my mother and father for allowing me to attend the best engineering schools. I will never forget their
sacrifice and encouragement.

Preface
We work in an industry where economic success is heavily dependent on the collective performance of our processing
equipment and their caretakers. Without highly trained and confident operators, we can never hope to realize the full
potential of our complex processes. Formal and informal training must be provided regularly if continuous process and
reliability gains are to be expected. There are no shortcuts to operational excellence.
One training topic essential to every operators education is that of centrifugal pumping technology. The ubiquitous
centrifugal pump is one of the workhorses of the process world, tirelessly moving fluids, ranging from the innocuous to
the toxic and flammable, from one stage of the process to the next. We would be hard pressed to find a processing unit
inside our complexes without a few of these in service. Their shear numbers and variety can make their mastery a
challenge.
While working in industry, I have frequently been called upon to teach operators about pumping technology. This has
forced me to think long and hard about what knowledge was needed for them to perform their jobs effectively. The more
training I provided the clearer the vision of operator instruction became, until the outline for this book emerged. My goal
soon became to write a book expressly for operators addressing principally those variables and factors under their
control, while limiting design theory and mathematics to a minimum.
In the following pages, I will first explain the importance of equipment reliability and what role operators play in this
mission. Then, I will cover centrifugal pump fundamentals, mechanical seals, electric motors, lubrication, and
troubleshooting basics; and end with a few recommendations on starting a reliability program. By the end of the book,
the reader should possess a clear understanding of how to operate and monitor their pumps. Four handy references are
also contained in the book to answer questions as they arise in the field: 1) Operators Guide to API Flush Plans, 2)
Illustrated Glossary of Centrifugal Pump Terms, 3) Glossary of Electric Motor Terms, and 4) Useful Centrifugal Pump
Formulas.
This book can be used as a self-paced, self-taught short course or as a companion to a live prepared short course for
both inexperienced and seasoned operators. It can also serve as a handy field guide after completion of the course. My
hope is that this book provides the latest generation of operators a body of knowledge that is relevant, complete, and
practical in an industrial setting for years to come.

Acknowledgements
This book would not have been possible without the support and assistance of my family and colleagues. I especially
would like to wholeheartedly thank:
1. My wife, Elaine, for supporting and proofing this book. She never lost confidence in me.
2. Mike Riley, former editor for Pumps & Systems Magazine, for encouraging me to write this book and for helping
me with some of the figures.
3. Joe Evans, Contributing Editor for Pumps & Systems Magazine, for reviewing the book and providing honest
feedback and advice.
4. Bill Stark, Senior Instrument and Electrical Engineer with Bath Engineering, for contributing an insightful
chapter on electric motors.
5. Dan Elwood, who works for A. W. Chesterton Company, for helping me with the text for all the API seal flush
plans in this book and acquiring permission from Chesterton to use their API seal flush plan graphics.
6. Ronald J. Carlson, Leader of the Process Industry Practices Machinery Function Team Member API 610, 685,
686 committees, for his instructive contribution on pump design and installation pitfalls.
7. Dale Atwell, Manuel Pena, and Alan Flores of Celanese Chemicals, for their help developing the outline for the
course that became the basis for this book.

Chapter 1
The Operators Mission
This equipment pays your salaryTake care of it!!!
Author Unknown

This in-your-face reminder was placed on expensive equipment in a south Texas chemical complex where I worked. It
quickly drives home the point that we wouldnt have jobs if not for the mechanical equipment at our sites that tirelessly
power our processes.
To be gainfully employed, we need our processes to be profitable. This means that the revenue from products we
manufacture has to exceed the expenses incurred. The way to maximize profits is to maximize the pounds, gallons, or
barrels of product we make in a given reporting period, while minimizing equipment expenses.
To maximize production, production units must achieve a high level of process availability. Availability is whether (or
how often) a system is available for use by its intended users. Since downtime (the opposite of availability) is usually
very costly, this is a vital component of process reliability. The availability portion of the profit equations is controlled by
what we call critical equipment. Typically these are unspared equipment that result in unit outages when they fail to
function properly.
You probably are well aware of the critical pumps at your site. These are usually the pumps that get an inordinate
amount of attention when they fail or begin to fail. Critical pumps may only represent less than 5% of your total pump
population, but they are vital to your operation and your profits. These pumps definitely pay your salary.
The other pumps in your plant falling into the other two categories, essential and nonessential do not get near the
attention as your critical pumps when they fail. Essential pumps are those pumps that can cause a major upset of your
unit upon failure, due to switching delays; and nonessential pumps are pumps that represent little consequence when
they fail. I recommend you compile a list of all your critical, essential, and nonessential pumps at your site for future
reference.
Now lets focus our attention to pumps and see what makes up pump-related expenses. They include:
Energy costsAll centrifugal pumps need power to operate. You will learn that there are simple ways to
reduce pump energy costs.
Repair costsAll centrifugal pumps fail. However, not all pumps are created equal. Larger and more
complex pumps cost more to repair. You may want to use relative repair cost as a means of prioritizing the
importance of your pumps.
Secondary damageIf a pump failure is severe enough, it can cause damage to nearby assets, such as
piping, structures, vessels, etc.
Fines due to environmental emissions.

Lawsuits as a result of injuries and releases affecting nearby residents. Some pumps handle hot,
flammable, toxic, and even lethal fluids that must be contained at all costs.
Pump repair costs usually get most of the press at your site due to their visibility. Pumps are constantly failing so they
always show up on monthly and annual maintenance budgets. Each pump failure represents a cost of anywhere from
$1000 to $50,000. An average repair cost for an ANSI pump is around $3000, while an average API pump repair runs
about $6000. (Note these average repair numbers can vary widely depending on local labor rate, seal design utilized,

and pump sizes.) For sites with 1000 pumps or more and an average pump life of four years, or 250 repairs per year,
this equates to an annual repair budget of $750,000 for a population of ANSI pumps to $1,500,000 for a similar
population of API pumps. If these pumps had an average mean life of only two years, or 500 repairs per year, these
numbers would rise to $1,500,000 for ANSI pumps and $3,000,000 for API pumps. Its no wonder site management is
always interested in improving pump reliability.

Pump construction standards


ASME Standard B73 (Formerly ANSI Standard): This Standard covers dimensional interchangeability
requirements and certain design features to facilitate installation and maintenance.
API Specifications: American Petroleum Institute Specifications. This specification is usually adopted by oil
refineries for petroleum applications. Also included in these specifications are seal gland and piping
recommendations.

Reliability Tracking
If you want to track how reliable your pumps are, you must have a means of analyzing your repair or failure records.
Here are three simple means of tracking how your pumps are doing:
Mean time between repairs
Reliability growth
Spending growth
The mean time between repairs (MTBR) metric is one of the most widely used metric for tracking centrifugal pump
reliability by pump users throughout the industry. To calculate it, you simply need to know the number of failures in a
given period of time and the total number of pumps in your population. The equation for MTBR is:

Where M is the total pump count, T is the reporting time, and R is the total number of repairs during the reporting period.
For example, lets say we have 200 pumps in our population and you have 20 failures in 3 month period. This means
your MTBR is 200x30/20 or 30 months between repairs.
To be useful, MTBR data must be trended over a significant period of time (12 months or more) and compared with
similar populations of pumps. For example, it doesnt make much sense to compare the MTBR for water pumps with
those of pumps in hot oil service. Similarly, it doesnt make sense to compare centrifugal pump MTBR with reciprocating
pump data.

MTBR Data from Across the Industry


One of the first questions asked by management is: What benchmark should we compare our pump MTBR against?
There are many factors to consider before answering this question, such as type of industry, pump type (API or ANSI),
and average experience level of the operators and mechanics. Well-known author and machinery guru, Heinz Bloch,
listed the following MTBF statistics for pumps in his March 2006 column in Hydrocarbon Processing Magazine as a
guideline for pump users:

ANSI Pumps, US average

2.5 years

ANSI/ISO pump average, Scandinavian pulp and paper plants

3.5 years

API pumps, US

5.5 years

API pump, Western Europe

6.1 years

API pumps, repair focused refinery, developing country

1.6 years

API pumps, Caribbean

3.9 years

API pumps, best-of-class, petrochemical plant, US, California

9.2 years

API pumps, best-of-class, petrochemical plant, US, Texas

10.1 years

All pumps, major petrochemical company, US, Texas

7.5 years

You can see a great deal of variability in the MTBR results across the industry.
Mr. Bloch went on to suggest the following MTBR targets for mechanical seals in refinery services*, based on his
experience and extensive failure data collected by the John Crane Company:

Excellent

>90 months

Very good

70 to 90 months

Average

70 months

Fair

62 to 70 months

Poor

< 62 months

These suggested benchmarks may seem high, but keep in mind these are targets to shoot for. Only by knowing what is
possible, can we attain world-class performance.
Other Tracking Tools
The reliability growth plot is another simple but useful tool for tracking the reliability performance of a single or set of
similar pumps. It is constructed by plotting cumulative time on the abscissa (x-axis) and the cumulative number of
failures (or repairs) on the ordinate (y-axis). (The term cumulative means you are continuously adding up the variable
being evaluated. For example, if four pump repairs occur after 10, 11, 14, 9 months of operations, the cumulative values
corresponding to these repairs would be 10, 21, 35, and 44 months. The associated cumulative repair values would be
1, 2, 3, and 4 failures.) The figure on the next page shows a typical reliability growth plot.

Fig. 1.1 Reliability Growth Plot


You can readily see a definite change in slope at about 950 days. You can conclude that something changed at around
950 days, causing the mean time between repairs to decrease. This type of information allows you to pinpoint when a

change in reliability actually occurred.


The spending growth plot is similar to the reliability growth plot, but instead of plotting the cumulative number of failures
(or repairs) on the ordinate axis cumulative repair costs is plotted. The figure below shows a typical reliability growth
plot.

Fig. 1.2 Spending Growth Plot


Again, you can readily see a definite change in slope at about 950 days. You can conclude that something changed at
that time causing the rate of repair spending to increase. Likewise, this type of information helps you to pinpoint when a
change actually occurred and determine what the contributing factors might be.

Bad Actors
The best means of improving your sites MTBR metric is by identifying and addressing what are called bad actors. Bad
actors are simply your worst 5 to 10 pumps based on the number of times they fail in a given time period. It has been
determined that pump failures follow the 80/20 rule which means that 20 percent of your worst pumps cause 80 percent
of all the failures in your population. If you think about this for a minute, this statement should impress you. The alarming
consequence of this statement is that our maintenance organization spends 80 percent of their time and money on only
20 percent of their pumps! This should lead to a call for action. The takeaway here is: If we wish to significantly improve
our pump reliability and control pump repair costs, we should begin addressing our bad actors immediately.

The Operators Mission


Operators know the risks associated with process operations are varied and great. Processes are becoming
increasingly more demanding, while the number of eyes available to watch critical equipment is constantly
diminishing. But this is not a hopeless situation. This challenge to do more with less is driving production organizations
to find more and more efficient ways of conducting business so that profits do not come at the expense of safety and the
environment.
One such way is to infuse an equipment reliability attitude into the organization from the ground up. Operators must be
the backbone of this reliability effort. Without committed operators, reliability programs, no matter how well designed,
are doomed to failure. To reap the full benefits of an equipment reliability program, each and every operator must
endeavor to:
Maximize pump reliability by continuously striving to improve the sites MTBR by understanding the cause of bad
actor failures;
Minimize the cost of ownership by striving to operate pump efficiency and identify failures in their early stages so
that secondary damage is avoided;
Protect life and limb; and
Protect the environment.
All site managers will state that profit is meaningless if it comes at the cost of an injury or an environmental incident.

In the following pages of my book, I will try to provide readers with the knowledge required to satisfy this mission.

Chapter 2
Centrifugal Pump Primer, Part I

Introduction
Before we delve into centrifugal pump operations, you must first understand how centrifugal pumps work and what
factors are critical to their reliable operation. I will briefly cover these topics in this section in hopes of explaining the
essential principles of centrifugal pumps and pumping systems. I hope the reader will utilize this primer as a
springboard to further study in this field and will periodically refer to it in the future as questions arise.

Why use centrifugal pumps?


Pumps are required throughout the process industry to move fluids from point A to point B. This may involve moving
fluid from a lower pressure to a higher pressure, lifting the fluid from a lower elevation to a high level, or a combination
of both of these requirements. Fluid normally wants to move from a higher pressure to a lower pressure and from a
higher level to a lower level. To get fluid to move against its normal tendencies requires the addition of energy. Thats
where pumps come in. Pumps are devices that transform mechanical energy into useful fluid energy.
Centrifugal pumps are one of the simplest of all the pump designs. They have one moving part, called the rotor. The
rotor has an impeller that accelerates fluid from its suction eye, or inlet (see Figure 2.1) to a maximum speed at its outer
diameter.

Figure 2.1, Centrifugal Pump Cross-section


The fluid is then gradually decelerated to a much lower velocity in the stationary casing, called a volute casing. As it
slows down, due to the increasing cross sectional area of the casing, pressure is developed, until full pressure is
developed at the pumps discharge. This simplicity of design and operation is what makes centrifugal pumps one of the
most reliable of pump designs, assuming they are applied properly.
This process of converting velocity to pressure is similar to holding your hand outside of a moving automobile. As the
high velocity air hits you, it slows down and pushes your hand back due to the pressure developed. Similarly, if you
could insert your hand into the pump casing at the impeller exit and catch the fluid, you would feel the pressure
produced by dynamic action of the impeller. When any high velocity stream slows down pressure is created. (This effect
is called Bernoullis Principle, which simply states that energy is always conserved in fluid stream.) You can read more
about Bernoullis Principle at the end of this chapter.) The greater the impeller diameter (or rpm), the greater the exit
velocity; and therefore, the higher pressure developed at the pumps discharge.
Another benefit of centrifugal pumps is that they can cover a wide range of hydraulic requirements, meaning they can be
used in a wide range of flow and pressure applications. They can easily provide flows from less than 10 gallons per

minute to well over 10,000 gallons per minute (gpm). Centrifugal pump impellers can easily be staged, that is arranged
so that one impellers output is directed to a subsequent impeller, so that as much as 4,500 pounds per square inch
(psi) of pressure can be generated.
One key disadvantage of centrifugal pumps is that their efficiencies are usually less than positive displacement pumps.
While positive displacement pumps can deliver efficiencies greater than 90 percent range, centrifugal pump efficiencies
can range from less than 30% to over 80% depending on the type and size. Here are few samples of centrifugal pump
efficiencies:
1. 10,000 gpm centrifugal pump75 to 89%
2. 500 gpm centrifugal pump60 to 75%
3. 100 gpm magnetic drive pump40%
4. 100 gpm canned motor pump35%
This is the price you pay for simplicity.

Head versus Pressure


Before we can talk about centrifugal pump performance you must understand the difference between pressure, which is
usually given in pounds per square inch (psi) and fluid head, which is usually given in feet or inches of fluid. In Figure
2.2, we have

Figure 2.2, Pressure gauge at the bottom of a fluid column


a pressure gage P connected to the bottom of a column of liquid that is 100 feet tall. What is the pressure you expect to
see on the pressure gauge? The answer is: it depends on the density of the fluid column. The denser, or heavier, the
fluid the higher the pressure reading on the pressure gauge will be. The formulas, used to determine how pressure
relates to head and vice-versa, are given below.
Pressure = Height of the liquid head x Specific Gravity/2.31
Head = 2.31 x Pressure/Specific Gravity
To use these formulas, you need to understand the fluid property specific gravity, which is simply the ratio of the fluids
density to the density of water (62.4 lbs/ft^3). The denser the fluid is the higher its specific gravity will be.
Lets go through a few simple examples.
1. First, we will assume we have a 100 foot column of water. Water has a specific gravity of 1.00, so the pressure

you would expect at the bottom of the column is 100 x 1/2.31 or about 43.3 pounds.
2. Next, we will assume we have a 100 foot column of gasoline, which has a specific gravity of 0.75. (This means
one cubic foot of gasoline weighs 75% the weight of one cubic foot of water.) We can expect the pressure gauge to
read 100 x 0.75 /2.31 or 32.5 psi.
3. Finally, we will assume we have a 100 foot column of brine, which has a specific gravity of 1.2. (This means
one cubic foot of brine weighs 120% the weight of one cubic foot of water.) We can expect the pressure gauge to
read 100 x 1.2/2.31 or 51.94 psi.
You can see that if you know the specific gravity or density of your fluid you can readily convert pressure head into
pressure. Although pressure and head are not identical quantities they are closely related and are often used
interchangeably.
Head is a convenient form of stating pressure in centrifugal pump applications. Most manufacturers test their pumps
with water, so you need to be able determine to how your pump will perform on the fluid you are pumping. If a pump is
capable of delivering 200 feet of head, you can conclude your pump will add 200 feet of fluid head to whatever pressure
you have on the suction of the pump and regardless of the specific gravity of the fluid being pumped. Lets also say we
are pumping gasoline and that we have 50 feet of suction pressure. We can now calculate the discharge pressure of the
pump. (Here we will assume there are no pressure losses in the pumps piping.)
Discharge Pressure = (Suction Head + Pump Head) x SG/2.31
Discharge Pressure = (50 + 200) x 0.75/2.31= 81.2 psi
Another way of looking at pump head is to imagine what would happen if you opened a bleeder near the pumps
discharge nozzle to see how high the pumping fluid would shoot due to generated head. Using the example above,
where the pump is adding 200 feet of head to 50 feet of suction pressure, you should expect to see a fluid steam soar
250 feet into air, minus some valve losses and air resistance.

Centrifugal Pump Performance


Table 2.1 shows a listing of typical performance data for a centrifugal pump. You will
Table 2.1, Typical centrifugal pump performance data
Flow

Head

NPSH

HP

205

15.0

200

205

25.9

400

195

32.8

500

185

37.7

600

170

42.9

800

120

12

48.5

notice the table lists head, which is a form of pressure that the pump produces, NPSHr, which is the amount of
suction pressure required for normal operation, the required horsepower, and the pump efficiency for five different flow
conditions. This is typical of pump test data. The pump to be tested is placed on a well instrumented test stand so that
these performance values can be determined. From Figure 2.3, we can readily see that at 400 gpm we can expect 195
feet of pressure and that 32.8 horsepower will be required to operate the pump at this flow condition. Similarly, at 800
gpm, we can expect only 120 feet of pressure and that 48.5 horsepower will be required to operate the pump at this
flow.

Pump manufacturers usually convert this tabular performance data into a graphical form called a pump performance
curve with this performance data. This provides pump users a means of visualizing the performance data and allowing
them to quickly determine how changes in flow can affect pressure and horsepower. If you look at Figure 2.3, you will
see a pump performance curve generated from our pump performance data in Table 2.1.
Figure 2.3, Typical Pump Curve

Figure 2.3, Typical Pump Curve


You can easily see that:
Pump head is fairly constant until the flow increases above about 400 gpm and then drops rapidly. The flatness
of the head curve at lower flows is why we call centrifugal pumps constant head devices.
NPSHr, or suction requirement, increases steadily as flow increases.
Horsepower also increases as flow increases.
This visual display of pump performance data makes them useful as a troubleshooting and analysis tool.
Horsepower versus Flow
There are many pump users who believe horsepower always increases as flow increases. However, this
correlation does not hold true for all classes of centrifugal pumps. For most pumps with fairly flat head versus
flow (HQ) curves, horsepower is a strong function of flow, i.e., horsepower increases as flow increases. This
makes centrifugal pumps with relatively flat HQ curves prime candidates for power monitoring. But for pumps
with HQ curves that fall sharply as flow increases, horsepower may be flat and in extreme cases even drop at
higher flows.

System Curves
We have seen how centrifugal pump performance changes with flow and how we can visualize this data using pump
curves. One question you might have when studying a pump curve is: How do you control the flow of a centrifugal
pump? They are capable of operating over such a wide flow range, but they have no built-in intelligence. How do they
know where to operate? We cannot predict where they will operate without knowing something about the system they
are connected to. Centrifugal pumps are dumb devices that only react to their pumping system requirements.
There are three basic types (see Figure 2.4) of systems that pumps are connected to:
Friction onlyThis type of system curve is controlled only by friction losses due to piping, valve, and other piping
components. In other words, friction losses are pressure head losses in piping and valves due to friction of the fluid
as it flows down the piping system. At zero flow, the static head is zero and the frictional losses are also zero,
increasing proportionally to the flowrate squared.

Static head onlyThis type of system curve is composed of a constant pressure head across the pump. In

Figure 2.4, the Static Only Curve is a constant 125 feet for all flowrates. One example of this type of system would
be pumping from a very large tank at the bottom of a hill into another large tank at the top of the hill. If we assume
we have very little friction losses, the pressure head across the pump will remain constant.
Combination (friction and static)This type of system curve is simply a combination of friction and static curves
described above. In Figure 2.4, the Combination Curve is composed of constant static head of 60 feet, with the
frictional piping losses added to this head that increase proportionally to the flow squared. Combination curves are
the most common of all the system curves.

Figure 2.4, System curve types


Now, lets revisit the pump curve in Figure 2.3 and see how two different system curves will interact with our pump
curve. Table 2.2 contains pressure head requirements for two different systems curves, System A and System B.
Table 2.2, Pump and system curve data
Flow

Pump

System A (Friction Only)

System B (Static & Friction)

205

60

200

205

63

400

192

18

78

600

160

36

96

800

122

62

122

900

82

82

142

System A represents a friction-only system curve and System B a combination static head and friction system curve.
The point where the system curve requirements exactly matches what the pump curve can deliver is called the
operating point. We can see from inspection that System A coincides with the pump curve at 900 gpm (see the bold
numbers on the 900 gpm row), where the system curve requires 82 feet of head to maintain flow and the pump
generates 82 feet of head. This would be considered a stable pump and system combination. As long as nothing
changes in the system and adequate power was provided to run the pump, this pump and system would operate at 900
gpm as long as the pump speed remained constant.
Now lets see how System B and our pump would interact. If we study the System B curve and our pump curve data, we
see they intersect at 800 gpm and 122 feet of head (see the bold numbers on the 800 gpm row). At this point, the system
requirement at 800 gpm exactly matches what the pump can deliver at 800 gpm. Again this is stable operating point for
the pump and system. As long as System B doesnt change and you provide enough power to the pump, the flow will
remain at 800 gpm indefinitelyas long as the pump speed remained constant.

Pumps are basically unintelligent devices that simply react to the systems they are supplying fluid into. As seen in the
example above, if the system head requirement is high the pump will deliver less flow and if the system head
requirement is low the pump will deliver more flow. This can be seen as another disadvantage of centrifugal pumps:
They must be instructed what to do. In other words, they require intelligence, usually in the form of controls, to know
how much flow to deliver into the process. In some cases, pump controls are automatic, but in other cases pump control
is provided by humans. We will discuss this later in more detail.
Another way of looking at pump and system interactions is to say that pumps provide the brawn and system controls
provide the brains. The pump alone cannot know where on its pump curve to operate and the control system cannot
generate the hydraulic energy required to move fluid down the pipe. Its only if these two components work together and
are designed properly can you arrive at a stable and happy pump operating point.

Chapter 2 Bonus
Bernoullis Principle Explained

Figure 2.5, Typical Pumping System


We are all aware of the three physical forms of a fluid energy: Elevation (z) energy, pressure (p) energy, and velocity (V)
energy. (Note: There are other forms of fluid energy not governed by Bernoullis Principle, such as chemical energy,
thermal energy, etc.) The higher a liquid is stored, like water in a water tower, the greater its potential energy. The
greater a fluid streams pressure is the greater its potential to do work. Similarly, the greater the velocity of a stream of
fluid has the higher its potential to do work. As a fluid flows down a pipe, ditch, or river, there is a constant interaction
between these three forms of energy.
The interplay of the three forms of fluid energy (z, p, and V) in a flow stream is governed by Bernoullis principle.
Originally formulated in 1738 by the Swiss mathematician and physicist Daniel Bernoulli, it states that the total energy
in a steadily flowing fluid system is a constant along the flow path. An increase in the fluids speed must therefore be
matched by a decrease in its pressure, i.e., energy is always conserved in a fluid stream.
Lets look at a simple pump example to bring all these concepts into clearer focus. Our goal will be to lift fluid from Tank
#1 to Tank #2 using a centrifugal pump as shown in Figure 2.5. In our example, we will track the total energy in a single
fluid streamline to see what happens as it courses from point A to point G.
Before we begin, we need to adopt the convention of converting all forms of fluid energy into units of head. (Note: It can
be easily shown that these three forms of energy can be expressed in units of head such as feet, meters, inches, etc.
Elevation head is already in units of length such as feet. Velocity head is determined by the relationship V2/2g and
pressure head by the relationship p/, where is the specific weight. This means that elevation energy, pressure energy
and velocity energy can all be expressed in units of feet or meters.) In the example below, we will employ units of feet
so that we can easily keep track of total energy. We also need to do one more thing: Select the level in Tank #1 to be
the datum point. This means, that the total energy at the fluid level of Tank #1 is zero feet.
Table 2.3 Fluid energies at different locations

Point

Location

Elev
Head

Pressure
Head

Velocity
Head

Total
head

Pump
Gain

Tank #1
surface

10' below
Tank #1
surface

-10

10

Pump
suction

-10

At
impeller
periphery

-10

36

24

50

50

Pump
discharge

-10

57

50

50

10' below
Tank #2
surface

40

10

50

50

Tank #2
surface

50

50

50

So, at point A, there is zero total head of energy (see Table 2.3). As the flow stream travels to point B, the elevation
energy drops to -10 feet and the pressure energy rises to +10 feet, resulting in a total energy of 0 feet; just as Bernoulli
predicted! As the fluid stream picks up speed and heads for the pump suction (point C), its velocity rises from zero head
to 2 feet of head, while the pressure head drops to 8 feet and the elevation head remains at -10 feet. Again, the total
fluid energy in the flow stream remains at 0 feet of energy. So as long as there is no external energy or work provided to
a fluid stream its total energy will remain constant. (Note: We are assuming there are no frictional losses in the suction
piping.) Notice that the values in the total head column remain at zero. Its not until the fluid stream enters the pump
that things get interesting.
From point C to point D, the fluid stream gains energy in the form of increased pressure and velocity, by means of the
impeller acting on the fluid. You can see the velocity energy jumps from 2 at point C to 24 at point D, at the impeller
periphery, while the pressure head increases from 8 to 36 feet. The pumps volute then converts most of the velocity
energy at point D into more useful pressure energy by slowing down the fluid gradually as it approaches the discharge
nozzle (point E). The 50 feet of head difference from point C to point E, provided by the mechanical energy via the
pumps input shaft, is called the total dynamic head (TDH) of the pump. This pressure energy allows the flow stream to
rise to the surface level of Tank #2. During its path from point E to point G, its total energy remained at 50 feet, just as
Bernoulli predicted.
We can summarize this pumping system example of Bernoullis principle by stating: 1) With no external energy supplied
in the suction piping, the total energy remained at zero feet of head from point A to point C. 2) The pump input shaft
provided the energy required to raise the energy level in the fluid stream from zero to 50 feet of head, or a difference of
50 feet of TDH, in order to reach our goal of lifting fluid from Tank #1 to Tank #2. 3) With no external energy supplied in
the discharge piping, the total energy level remained at 50 feet. All pumping systems obey Bernoullis principle in this
way.

Chapter 3
Centrifugal Pump Primer, Part II
The Best Efficiency Point
Now that we have discussed pump and system interactions, we know that system curves influence where centrifugal
pumps operate. This is vital to know because the efficiency and reliability of a centrifugal pump depends on where it
operates on its curve. Lets go back to our pump curve, but now we will add an efficiency curve (see Figure 3.1). You
can see that efficiency is low at lower flows, peaks at about 500 gpm and then drops at higher flows. The point where
efficiency peaks is called the pumps best efficiency point, or BEP for short. This is the most important point of a pump
curve because its the flow rate where:
Efficiency is greatest
Vibration and pressure pulsations are lowest
Shaft deflection is minimized due to the improved pressure distribution of internal pressure around the impeller.
This has a major positive effect on mechanical seal life. At the best efficiency point, the pressures around the
impeller are nearly balanced so that radial forces on the impeller and shaft are minimized.
Mechanical reliability is highest
BEP is the flow point where centrifugal pump designers intend their pumps to be operated. Conscientious operators
should always strive to comply with the designers intent by operating all centrifugal pumps near their best efficiency
point.

Figure 3.1, Pump curve with efficiency


If we plotted the expected mean time between repairs for a typical pump with respect to flow, we would arrive at a curve
similar to Figure 3.2.

Figure 3.2, MTBR curve

You will notice that the MTBR for this hypothetical pump peaks at the best efficiency point and begins to fall as you
move away from BEP flow. This is due to the fact that as you deviate from the pumps ideal flow, internal flow patterns
become turbulent and radial impeller forces become increasingly unbalanced, causing higher vibration levels and
pressure pulsations and greater shaft deflection. To compound matters, as you increase flow beyond the BEP flow a
damaging phenomenon, called cavitation (We will define cavitation later in this primer.) is more likely to occur due to the
pumps requirement for higher suction pressure at the impeller eye to suppress fluid vaporization. This further reinforces
the importance of keeping your pumps operating close to the BEP flow.

The 40/60/80 Rule of Thumb


There has been much written about how far you can operate away from the BEP. Instead of covering a lot of pump
design theory, I will simply provide a basic guideline for off-design operation.
Table 3.1, Summary of the 40/60/80 Rule
<10 hp

<200 hp

>200 hp

Ample NPSHa or suction head

40

60

80

Marginal NPSHa or suction head

60

70

80

Table 3.1 above lists the recommended minimum flows, stated as a percent of BEP, for different pump horsepower
levels and different suction pressure conditions. (I will cover NPSHa a little later. Here assume NPSHa means suction
head pressure.) For situations where there is plenty available suction head, you should keep flows above 40% of the
BEP flow for pumps less than 10 horsepower, above 60% of BEP flow for pump greater than 10 horsepower but less
than 200 horsepower, and above 80% of BEP for pumps larger than 200 horsepower. If suction head is marginal, you
should keep flows above 60% of the BEP flow for pumps less than 10 horsepower, above 70% of BEP flow for pump
greater than 10 horsepower but less than 200 horsepower, and so forth. If you find you are violating these guidelines
check with your plant rotating equipment engineer for more guidance.

System Curves Revisited


I have discussed how it is the interaction of the pump and system that determines the actual pump flow delivered into
the system. Now lets consider a pump that is installed in three different systems: One with small (undersized) piping,
one with ideal piping and one with large (oversized) piping. By looking at the intersection points of the pump curves with
these three system curves we can predict the following (Figure 3.3):
1. The small piping system will result in a pump flow of about 125 gpm, or about 25% of the BEP flow.
2. The ideal piping system will yield a pump flow of about 450 gpm, or about 90% of the BEP flow.
3. The large piping system will result in a pump flow of about 800 gpm, or about 160% of BEP flow

Figure 3.3, Pump and system interactions


One surprise uncovered by this exercise is that the large piping system is actually bad for the pump. You would think
that oversized piping would be advantageous, but its not. It leads to operation well to the right of the best efficiency
point. Under these conditions, the pump will probably cavitate, i.e., lose suction, and vibrate excessively. One resolution

for this condition would be to pinch down on a discharge valve to increase head losses due to friction. Pinching down
on a discharge valve would result in a system curve similar to the ideal piping system. Although it wastes power, it
would save the pump from certain internal damage. (Another solution might be to install a lower head pump to better
match your system requirements.)
The small piping system is most problematic. It results in flows of only 25% of the BEP flow, which will lead to rapid
failures. What can be done? If you need more flow, you will have to increase the piping size to the ideal size. If you are
satisfied with the 125 gpm flow, you will need to buy a smaller pump so that the operating point falls close to the
replacement pumps BEP flow.
It should go without saying that the ideal piping system is the best configuration for the pump. Operation at 90% of the
BEP flow will result in a MTBR close to the maximum possible for the pump. To ensure your pumps attain flows in the
ideal range, much attention to detail is required during the pump selection and piping design stages of the project. If
attention is not provided, the pumping system will be doomed to a life of inefficient operation and frequent failures.

Cavitation
We have talked about the importance of density in pump performance. Another important fluid property is vapor
pressure, which is the pressure where the fluid will boil at a given temperature. A well-known example is the vapor
pressure of water at 212 oF (100oC). We all know that water will boil at 212oF when it is at a pressure of 14.7 psia, i.e.,
atmospheric pressure. At room temperature, say 100oF, its vapor pressure drops to a mere 0.0949 psia.
It is important to know the vapor pressure of your fluid because you want it to remain a liquid the entire time it is inside
your pump. If pressures fall below this critical pressure the fluid will flash and transform from a fluid into a vapor. If
flashing does occur because your internal pump pressure drops below the fluids vapor pressure, vapor bubbles usually
form (see Figure 3.4) in the eye of the impeller.

Figure 3.4, Pressure distributions inside an impeller


In the upper curve, the pump internal pressure stays above the vapor pressure in the impeller eye, however in the lower
curve the pump internal pressure falls below the vapor pressure in the impeller eye. The difference between the inlet
pressure and the lowest internal pump pressure is known as the pumps net positive suction head required, or NPSHr.
The higher a pumps NPSHr, the greater the suction pressure required to prevent internal flashing. A typical NPSHr
curve is shown in the Figure 3.5. Notice the suction head required above the vapor to prevent flashing, or NPSHr,
increases as flow increases.

Figure 3.5, NPSHr curve


The Changing Definition of NPSHr
You would think that basic definitions, like the one for NPSHr, never change. Think again! Heres an excerpt
from Joe Evans Pump Ed 101 Column (Pumps & Systems Magazine) from May 2008 describing what
NPSHr means today according to the Hydraulic Institute:
You would think that the NPSHr, measured by the pump manufacturer, would be the suction pressure
required to prevent cavitation. That used to be the definition but, it is currently defined as the suction pressure
at which a particular pumps hydraulic performance is degraded by 3%. This raises some concern since this
degradation is actually due to cavitation and, at the 3% level, it has the potential to be damaging. The
Hydraulic Institutes standards stipulate that each of the points on a pump manufacturers NPSHr curve must
reflect this 3% value. There are rumors that the term NPSHr will eventually be changed to NPSH3 which
more accurately describes its true meaning. Depending upon the pump design, HI recommends an NPSHa /
NPSHr margin of 1.1 to 2.5. Some pump experts recommend even more. It is a good idea to check with your
pump manufacturer for their specific margin requirement as it relates to a particular pump model and its
application.
In recent years a new term, NPSHi (inception), was developed to define the suction pressure required that
will suppress all cavitation. The cavitation that occurs between NPSHi and the point where damage occurs is
called incipient cavitation. This form of cavitation appears to cause little, if any, damage in normal pumping
applications. There is some ongoing debate as to whether the cavitation that occurs due to a 3% performance
degradation should be regarded as incipient cavitation.

Cavitation Example:
The pump manufacturer states that the NPSHr required is 15 feet. Your vapor pressure is 20 psia. (Assume you are
pumping water.)
What pressure do you need at the pump suction to avoid flashing?
First you have to convert the NPSHr into pressure. Using the head to pressure equation, we get: 15/2.31=6.49 psi
Next, add it to the vapor pressure: 6.49 psi + 20 psia =26.49 psia =11.79 psig
You now know that as long as your suction pressure stays above 11.79 psig, you should never flash inside the pump.
If flashing does occur at the suction eye of the impeller, you will experience the damaging effects of cavitation.
Cavitation is the opposite of flashingwith more severe consequences. Flashing alone is fairly innocuous. Its when
vapor bubbles collapse in the high pressure areas of the impeller that damage can take place. These implosions can

generate pressure of up to 100,000 psi that will eventually result in severe impeller surface and structural damage, such
as that seen on Figure 3.6.

Figure 3.6, Cavitation Damage


There are several clues that cavitation is occurring. The classical sign of cavitation is that it will sound like you are
pumping gravel or rocks. You will also notice severe pressure pulsations on your discharge pressure gauge. If the
cavitation is severe enough, you will also notice a significant loss of flow. This is due to the loss of pressure caused by
two phase flow, i.e., a mixture of liquid and vapor in the suction eye and impeller. Here are three ways from a process
perspective to suppress cavitation or eliminate it completely:
Increase your suction level
Cool your product
Increase the pressure in your suction vessel
I wanted to quickly mention the difference between cavitation and vortexing since these two phenomena are often
mistaken for one another. As mentioned above classical cavitation is when the pumped fluid falls below its vapor
pressure and then implodes as the fluid moves to high pressure regions in the impeller. If, however, air or vapor is
entrained in the pump suction line due to low liquid level and makes it way into the pump, this is called vapor
entrainment due to vortexing. How can you tell the difference? While their symptoms can be similar they are physically
different phenomena. Vortexing occurs at low (a few feet) tank or vessel levels, whereas cavitation can occur with 20
feet or more of tank level. It is important to separate these two possible suction issues when troubleshooting pumping
problems because they have completely different solutions.

INTP (Its not the pump)


I worked with a seasoned rotating equipment technician who coined the phrase: INTP, i.e., Its not the pump.
After years of hearing about pumping problems that were allegedly caused by the pump, but were not, he
decided to take a stand. He realized that most, over 90%, of problems that were perceived to be pump
problems were actually pump and system problems. Problems were in actuality caused by:
* Poor pump selections, where the pump is operating far away from its BEP flow
* Poor suction piping designs, leading to cavitation or vapor entrainment
* Poor pump control designs.
The point here is you can never separate the pump from the system. They are forever linked. Before you
blame the pump, check the entire system to see if you have a system problem and address the root cause.

Chapter 4
Centrifugal Pump Primer, Part III
Pump Design Considerations
Beyond flow and pressure demands, pump selection engineers must be aware of other design requirements, such as:
1. Vapor pressureThis is important for several reasons. One is for cavitation concerns. For high vapor pressure
applications, there is a usually smaller margin between the NPSH required versus the NPSA available. If the
NPSHr is less than a few feet, special impeller or pump designs may be required. Next are sealing concerns.
Cooling may be required to ensure the flashing is avoided as the product travels across the seal faces.
2. Solid ContentOpen impellers may be required to avoid plugging.
3. ToxicityMultiple seals may be required to preclude product leakage into the atmosphere. For the most toxic
fluids, sealless pumps may be warranted.
4. High temperaturesHigh temperatures cause numerous problems, such as the deterioration of o-rings found in
most mechanical seals, pump casing distortion, and pump to motor misalignment. Designers may choose to specify
bellows type mechanical seals and API compliant pumps for high (>350F) temperature applications. API is a
heavy duty specification used by most refineries.
5. ViscosityCentrifugal pumps are commonly used to pump fluids with low viscosities. Viscosity is a measure of
how easily fluids flow. Low viscosity fluids, such as water, flow easily, while high viscosity fluids, such as cold
molasses resist flow. Whenever centrifugal pumps are chosen to pump viscous fluids, a viscosity correction is
required to be made on the water-based performance data. Figure 4.1 shows how a pump performance curve
based on water had to be corrected for a fluid with a viscosity of 1000 SSU.

Figure 4.1, Effect of viscosity on performance

Basic Centrifugal Pump Construction


All centrifugal pumps have the following common elements (see Figure 4.2):
1. Pump casing to contain the fluid being pumped and decelerate the fluid expelled by the impeller.
2. Impeller to add energy to the fluid by accelerating it.
3. Shaft seal to allow rotation of the rotor while preventing product leakage around the shaft.
4. Shaft and bearings to maintain the position of the rotor with respect to the pump casing.

Figure 4.2 Centrifugal Pump Cross-section

Impellers
There are three basic impeller types: Enclosed, semi-open, and open impellers. Figure 4.3 below illustrates the more
common enclosed and semi-open impeller geometries. Semi-open impellers must be adjusted by placing the impeller
close to the pump case to operate properly, while enclosed impeller use tight clearances at the wear rings to maintain
their efficiency.

Figure 4.3 Enclosed and semi-open impellers

Bearings
There are two basic types of bearings: Rolling element bearings and journal bearings. By far, rolling element bearings,
shown below in Figure 4.4, are the most common type used in centrifugal pumps. They are relatively inexpensive and
can provide an acceptable life if lubricated properly.

Figure 4.4, Rolling element bearing


The journal bearing can be seen in Figure 4.5.

Figure 4.5, Journal bearing


Journal bearings are more common in critical pumps due to the fact they can theoretically be designed for an infinite life.
When working properly, the shaft rides on a film of oil and never contacts the bearing. They have the disadvantage of
being much more expensive than rolling element bearings and must be custom designed for each application.
Bearing lubrication basics will be covered in Chapter 7.

Seals
There have been more new developments in the area of sealing than in any other area of pump design. This is due to
the fact that pumping requirements are getting tougher and tougher, along with ever tightening fugitive emission limits
for seals. Initially only visible leaks were considered failures, now leaks in the ppm range are considered failures.
Packing and mechanical seals are the two main seal categories.
Packing was the first type of seal used in pumps and is still used today in applications where leakage can be
tolerated. It consists of wearable material that is inserted into the stuffing box that must be tightened to control
leakage.
Mechanical seals are the most common type of seal used today in centrifugal process pumps. All seals have a
rotating face, stationary face, and a spring to hold the faces together (see Figure 4.6). Two disadvantages of
mechanical seals are that their faces must be lapped and maintained to an incredible flatness tolerance to perform
properly and require tight internal assembly tolerance to survive at high rotational speeds.

Figure 4.6, Mechanical seal cross section


Mechanical seals can come as single seals, tandem seals, and double seals configurations. Single seals are used

whenever possible. Tandem and double seals are often used to mitigate safety and environmental risks.
The most common seal face material combinations, that is the composition of the rotating and stationary seal faces, are
carbon versus tungsten carbide and carbon versus silicon carbide. There are numerous other face material
combinations available for use depending on the properties of the fluid being sealed.
Labyrinth seals are another type of seal occasionally employed in pumps. They are composed of sealing teeth
that fit closely to the shaft (see Figure 4.7).

Figure 4.7, Labyrinth seal

O-rings
Most mechanical seals employ o-rings, which are composed of elastomeric materials, for secondary sealing. Not only
are o-rings the weakest link of a seal they can also be degraded by high temperatures and chemical attack. For this
reason it is vital you know the temperature limits of your seals elastomers and if there are compatible with the fluid
being sealed. Table 4.1 is a listing of common elastomers along with their temperature limit.
Table 4.1, Temperature limits of common elastomers
Elastomer

Temperature range F

Temperature range C

Flourocarbon (Viton)

-15 to 400

-25 to 205

Ethyle propylene

-70 to 300

-55 to 150

Chemraz

-20 to 450

-30 to 230

Kalrez

0 to 500

-20 to 260

Neoprene

-45 to 300

-45 to 150

Buna N

-65 to 225

-55 to 105

Buna S

-75 to 250

-60 to 120

You should always look for signs of melting, extrusion, or disintegration on your failed o-rings once the seal is removed
and decontaminated. If you see signs of o-ring disintegration, you should suspect elastomeric incompatibility. There are
many o-ring chemical compatibility tables on the web that are available for your reference. If you see melting or
extrusion, the operating temperatures are probably too high for your o-rings. Be aware that process excursions can
result in operation outside the intended design range of pump o-rings and mechanical seals.

Centrifugal Pump Types


Centrifugal pumps come in many configurations, such as:
1. Single stage overhung (Figure 4.8)These are the most common centrifugal pump design.

Figure 4.8, Single stage overhung pump


2. Between bearings (Figure 4.9)Typically used in high flow/low pressure applications.

Figure 4.9, Between bearings pump


3. Multistage (Figure 4.10)Typically used for high pressure applications.

Figure 4.10, Multistage pump


4.
Vertical (Figure 4.11)Used when small installation footprint is desired. Single stage and multistage
configurations are available.

Figure 4.11, Multistage vertical pump

Due to the fact that multistage vertical pumps commonly have long shafts, called lineshafts, they tend to incorporate
lineshaft bushings or bearings, which are positioned at regular intervals down the pump column (see Figure 4.11).
These bearings support the lineshaft radially and keep it from whipping excessively. Either open or enclosed lineshaft
configurations are available. Open lineshafts use product lubricated bearings, while enclosed lineshafts use bearings
that are lubricated by an externally supplied lubricant. It is important to remember to start the lubrication flow to enclosed
lineshaft bearings before starting the pump.

Pump Suction Arrangements


One of the most important design aspects of a centrifugal pump is the type of suction system it employs. All centrifugal
pumps must be primed to operate reliably. Priming is the act of removing all the air or vapor from the suction piping
before the pump is started. If a pump is started without being fully primed, it will be unable to expel air or vapors in its
suction line and will eventually seize due to overheating. Some clear signs that a pump is not properly primed will be
the absence or lack of flow and a low and erratic discharge pressure. Operators must be keenly aware of the type of
suction system they have and how they should be correctly primed.
There are three types of suction arrangements used by all centrifugal pumps:
1. Flooded suctionFrom an operators perspective, this is the most desirable type of suction arrangement
because it is the easiest to prime. Flooded suction systems have liquid levels above the pump suction nozzle
elevation (see Figure 4.12 below). To prime them, you simply have to open the pump suction valve and a high
point vent valve on the pump case. Once a steady steam of liquid is exiting the vent valve, you can be sure the
entire suction line and pump is air or vapor free.

Figure 4.12, Pump with fully flooded suction


2. Suction liftSee the figure below.

Figure 4.13, Suction lift configuration


In this configuration, the suction level is below the suction eye of the impeller. Once the pump is primed, there is
no problem maintaining a vacuum at the impeller eye. The challenge is obtaining the initial prime. This may be
done by filling the suction line with water to evacuate the air or pulling a vacuum with a vacuum pump. Sometimes
foot valves are used to maintain primes, but in my experience seldom work as advertised. Foot valves, however,
can be helpful when attempting to fill the suction line with water prior to start-up.
3. Self-priming suction systemsSelf-priming pumps are available that can automatically expel the air in the
suction line. They require liquid in the casing to achieve the priming action. An initial prime is accomplished by
filling the pump casing with liquid through the priming hole in the top of the casing. The pump is then started and
allowed to prime. The pump may be turned off and reprimed again and again with the liquid retained in the special
pump casing. The action inside the pump during priming is one of air entrainment and larger bubbles passing with
the priming liquid through the upper volute educer passage. The air separates out of this liquid in the upper
chamber of the casing. This liquid returns to the entry port in the lower volute section and is recycled back into the
impeller (see Figure 4.14).
Here are a few things to check if your self-priming pump fails to prime :
Check to see if the priming chamber is filled with water.
Do you have a means for the air to escape during priming? A small vent line upstream of the discharge check
valve can be used to assist in the elimination of air.
Check to see if the pumps internal clearances are within manufacturers specifications.

Figure 4.14, Self-priming Pump

Sealless Pumps
When the consequences of a product leak are too great due to toxicity or flammability, sealless pumps are a viable
application solution. They fall into two main categories: Magnetic drive and canned motor. Magnetic drive pumps derive
their name from the fact that pump rotor and motor are magnetically coupled (see Figure 4.15). Canned motor pumps
are unique in that the motor driver is actually cooled by the product being pumped.

Figure 4.15, Typical magnetic drive pump

There are two main disadvantages of sealless pumps. The first is their inherent lower overall efficiency due to the need
to provide cooling to the internal bushings used to maintain the rotors radial and axial position. Canned motor pumps
are typically the less efficient of the two because of the additional requirements to cool the internal motor. The second
disadvantage of sealless pumps is their susceptibility to dry-run failures due to the fact that the bushings in these pumps
require a continuous supply of fluid for lubrication and cooling. For this reason, ensuring sealless pumps are fully
primed is vital to their reliability.

Pump Drivers
The two most common centrifugal pump drivers are electric motors and steam turbines. Electric motors, by far, are the
most popular of these two drivers. They are often selected because they are simple, relatively inexpensive to purchase
and install, and can be started without any type of warm-up.
Because of the nature of induction motors, they require no type of speed control. Once they are tied into the electrical
grid, they will maintain a speed within a few percent of synchronous speed. For example, a 3600 rpm motor will operate
at about 3550 rpm at full load (see Table 4.2). As the load is decreased, the motor speed will increase and approach
3600 rpm but never attain 3600 rpm. This is an easy means of telling if an electric motor is loaded. The farther away
from synchronous speed the motor is operating the greater the motor load. This relationship holds true for all induction
motors, regardless of their rated speed. (Note that the actual full-load motor speed depends upon manufacturers
design. For example, the full-load speed of a two pole motor could be as low as 3450 rpm.)
Table 4.2, Effect of Load on Induction Motor
% Load

3600 motor

1800 motor

1200 motor

3600

1800

1200

25

3598

1799

1199

50

3595

1798

1198

75

3580

1790

1193

100

3550

1775

1183

Nowadays, the trend is to install variable frequency drives on electric motors. By varying the supply frequency to an
induction motor, you can vary the output speed, which in turn varies the pump head produced (see Figure 4.16).

Figure 4.16, Variable speed curves and system curve


Variable speed pump and motor designs are very energy efficient for friction-type piping systems. You simply vary the
motor speed by changing its input frequency to get the pump flow you need. There is no need for pump discharge

throttling.

Closing Comments
This primer is intended to provide operators a brief overview of centrifugal pump technology. For those of you who want
to learn more about this topic, I highly recommend the Pump Handbook, Third Edition, by Igor Karassik, et al. It is the
most comprehensive book available that Im aware of that covers all facets of centrifugal pumps. Another handy
resource available to you is the Illustrated Glossary of Centrifugal Pumps in Appendix A of this book.

Chapter 5
How to Protect Your Mechanical Seals

The Weakest Link


Mechanical seals are considered the bad boys of all the pump components, garnering most of the negative press. If
you ask anyone working in a petrochemical facility what causes most pump failures, they will probably tell you
mechanical seals are to blame. Due to the notorious nature of mechanicals seals, I have decided to devote an entire
chapter on their care and feeding.
While it is true that mechanical seals are the most common pump component failure, there are many reasons why they
fail. A more pertinent question would be: What are the most common root causes of mechanical seal failures? We find
they fail due to vibration, mis-installation, mis-application, running the pump off-design, loss of seal flush and so forth.
As the weakest mechanical link in pumps, they often are the first component to fail, but in many instances, their failures
are precipitated by an unrelated mechanical fault inside the pump.
If a suitable seal design is properly installed into a cool, clean, and low vibration environment, it could last for 10 or
more years before wearing out. In reality, we rarely see a failure due to reaching the end of a seals useful life.
Unfortunately, we all have to live with imperfect seal installations that often meet a premature end.
What I want to discuss here is what operators can do to maximize the life of their seals. In most cases, pumps, seals,
and seal flushes have already been selected and installed, meaning you have to make the most of the pumps and
sealing systems even if they are not ideal.

Seal Chamber Venting


The most basic need of all mechanical seals is the need to be immersed in liquid. Without liquid between their faces, all
seals will quickly fail. In most pumps, the seal chambers are designed to be self-venting, that is that if the pump casing
is adequately vented the seal chamber will also be flooded.
One exception to this rule is in vertical pump applications, where the seal is usually at the pumps liquid highpoint
where air or vapors can be trapped. Ensuring vertical seal chambers are flooded requires the installation of a bleed-off
line from the seal chamber to the pumps suction. The key point here is that the bleed-off line must be installed above
the mechanical seal faces. If not, the seal chamber may trap air or vapor at the seal faces, resulting in a premature
failure due to inadequate lubrication.

Seal Flush Plans


If you want to obtain an acceptable life from a seal, you must provide it with the best possible operating environment.
This is done by using what are called seal flush plans, defined as any combination of accessories external to a seal
with the combined purpose is to improve seal life and/or reduce emissions. Seal flush plans are plentiful and diverse in
design and purpose. First lets look at some of the common functions that seal flush plans can provide:
1. CoolingAll mechanical seals generate heat. To expel the heat generated, cooling must be provided either in
the form of liquid circulation from the pumps discharge as provided by an API flush plan 11, shown in Figure 5.1
with a single seal arrangement.

Figure 5.1, API flush plan 11


Another means of providing cooling is the API 21 flush plan, shown in Figure 5.2 in a single seal arrangement,
which incorporates an inline water cooled heat exchanger.

Figure 5.2, API seal flush plan 21


Double seals, like the one shown on page 64, frequently have heat removed by means of a pumping ring (see
Pump Ring entry in Glossary A) that pumps fluid from between the two seals to a seal pot or tank and then back to
the seal chamber. The seal pot, like the one shown on page 73, typically has an internal cooling coil that removes
the heat generated by the seal. You should always keep the following in mind when dealing with mechanical seals
utilizing pumping rings: 1) Minimize the number of bends in the tubing to and from the seal pot, since pumping rings
only generate a few inches of pressure. 2) If required, only install full ported valves in the pumping loop. It is really
best to avoid any valves if possible. 3) Never let the seal pot level fall below the top of the inlet line. If it does,
circulation and thus cooling will be completely lost.
2. FilteringIf a process stream has the potential of containing solids, a strainer is used in the API flush plan 12,
shown in Figure 5.3 in a single seal configuration, can be employed to remove them before getting to the seal.

Figure 5.3 API seal flush plan 12


3. Isolation of the process side sealIf the pumpage is judged to be undesirable for lubrication of the inner or
process side seal due to its lubricity or cleanliness, an external flush can be used as shown in the API flush plan
32, shown in Figure 5.4 in a single seal installation. Preferably a cool, clean liquid is used as a flush. Notice this
seal flush design often incorporates a flow meter of some type as an aid to control and monitor flow.

Figure 5.4 API seal flush plan 32


4. Isolation of the process from the atmosphereIf external leakage of the pumpage is undesirable for
environmental or safety reasons, an intermediate or buffer fluid can be employed between the inner and outer seal.
This seal flush plan, called a plan 52, incorporates an unpressurized seal pot. Notice that Figure 5.5 shows the API
52 flush plan being used with a combination inner and outer seal, also called a tandem seal. If the primary seal fails
the outer seal will safely contain the pumpage until the pump can be shut down and repaired. If installed, a
pressure switch on the seal pot alerts the control room when the seal pot levels rises, due to an inner seal failure, to
the point that back pressure is generated to abnormal levels.

Figure 5.5 API seal flush plan 52


5. Isolation of the process side seal and the atmosphereIn situations where you wish to avoid external
leakage to the atmosphere as well as improve the inner seals environment, an API seal flush plan 53A can be
used. The key feature of this plan is the use of a pressurized gas blanket over the buffer fluid in the seal pot (see
Figure 5.6). This plan requires a double seal be used as seen below.

Figure 5.6 API seal flush plan 53A


To ensure the proper operation of this seal plan, you must maintain a positive pressure differential between the
seal pot pressure and the sealing chamber or stuffing box pressure. It is recommended that a differential pressure
of at least 30 psi be maintained at all times to prevent flow reversal at the inner seal.
6. Seal condition monitoringSeals with seal pots incorporating level glasses and/or pressure transmitters
provide a means of tracking seal conditions (see API seal flush plan 52 on page 56.) If the seal pot level drops, you
probably have a leak in the outer seal and if the seal pot levels rises, you probably have a leak in the inner seal. If
you develop a massive leak, your pressure switch will alarm as you overfill the seal pot.
7. QuenchingLeakage that has a tendency of coking, setting-up, or crystallizing can be tamed with the use of
an external quench flow, such as seen in the API 62 seal flush plan (Figure 5.7).

Figure 5.7, API seal flush plan 62

Stuffing Box Pressure


It is vital to know the actual seal cavity or stuffing box pressure for several reasons:
1.

To determine the external flush pressure needed for an API plan 32 to ensure a positive flow into the seal

cavity.
2. To be able to determine the nitrogen pressure needed on the seal pot for an API plan 53A to ensure a positive
pressure differential with regard to the seal cavity pressure.
3. To properly calculate seal loading conditions, i.e., face loading, pressure gradient, etc.
4. To determine the actual conditions of the process fluid inside the seal cavity. Are you under a positive pressure
or vacuum? Are you above or below the fluids vapor pressure?
There are several means of determining the pressure into the seal cavity:
1. You can measure it directly by attaching a pressure gauge on a seal gland port. By placing a tee and a pressure
gauge in the line coming off the port titled flushing plan 11 in the Figure 5.8 below, you directly measure the seal
cavity pressure with the flush turned off.

Figure 5.8Mechanical Seal with a API plan 11 port


2. You can estimate the seal cavity pressure with the following formulas:
a. For pump with impeller back vanes or open impellers:
b. Suction pressure + 25% of Differential Pressure = Stuffing Box Pressure

For example: Lets assume you have an impeller with back vanes or an open impeller. If you have a suction
pressure of 25 psig and a differential pressure of 50 psi, you can expect a stuffing box pressure of about 37.5 psig.
c. For pump with impeller balance holes or closed impellers:
d. Suction pressure + 10% of Differential Pressure = Stuffing Box Pressure

For example: Lets assume you have an impeller with back vanes or an open impeller. If you have a suction
pressure of 25 psig and a differential pressure of 50 psi, you can expect a stuffing box pressure of about 30 psig.
3. You can also obtain an estimate of the seal cavity pressure from the pump manufacturer. They have the best
means of estimating this important pressure. Some manufactures even provide detailed charts for this purpose for
their pump models.

Field Trip
If you want to learn more about seal flushes, go out to the field one day and pick a few pumps at random to
study. See if you can determine what type of seal flush plans they are using. Then, check your pump records
and see if you were right. After a few field trips you should become a real pro at identifying seal flushes.

Control Room Aid


Here is an idea you may find useful: Obtain a poster of all the API flush plans from your local mechanical seal
provider and hang it up in your control room. As pumps are repaired in your process unit and you learn which
flush plans are used, write the appropriate pump numbers or names by their respective plan. In time you will
have a listing of what seal flush plans are being used on all your pumps. This will be an invaluable tool
during future pump start-ups.

Operators Guide to API Flush Plans


The following mechanical seal flush guidelines were written with the pump operator in mind. Content about detailed
seal design and selection has been minimized. What has been included here will be 1) Why the flush plan on your
particular pump was selected and 2) What to look out for during start-ups and inspection rounds.
I will start by listing all the API plans (see the Table of Flush Plan on the next page), and then cover the most frequently
used plans one by one. I hope you will keep this guide handy until you become very familiar with these most common
flush plans. The ultimate measure of your success will be the level of improvement in mechanical seal reliability.

Table 5.1, Table of Flush Plans


API/ISO

ANSI

General Description

01

7301

Internal recirculation from pump discharge.

02

7302

Dead-ended, no circulation.

11

7311

By-pass from discharge to seal chamber.

12

7312

By-pass from discharge through strainer to seal chamber.

13

7313

Recirculation from seal chamber to pump suction.

14

7314

By-pass from discharge to seal and back to pump suction.

21

7321

By-pass from discharge through cooler to seal chamber.

22

7322

By-pass from discharge through strainer, orifice, cooler to seal chamber


(not shown). Similar to Plan 21 with addition of a strainer.

23

7323

Recirculation from pumping ring through cooler to seal chamber.

31

7331

By-pass from discharge through cyclone separator to seal chamber.

32

7332

Injection from external source to seal chamber.

41

7341

By-pass from discharge through cyclone separator and cooler to seal


chamber.

52

7352

Non pressurized external reservoir with forced circulation.

53A

7353A

Pressurized external reservoir with forced circulation

53B

7353B

Pressurized external bladder type reservoir with forced circulation. Has


been known as Plan 53 Modified.

530

73530

Pressurized external piston type reservoir with forced circulation.

54

7354

Circulation of clean fluid from external system.

61

7361

Tapped connections only. Usually used for Plan 62 later.

62

7362

Quench fluid from external source.

65

N/A

Single seal leakage alarm for high leakage.

71

7371

Tapped connections only. Usually used for Plan 72, 75, 76 later.

72

7372

External buffer gas purge for secondary containment seals.

74

7374

Pressurized external barrier gas for Dual Gas Seals.

75

7375

Secondary containment seal drain for condensing leakage.

76

7376

Secondary containment seal drain for non-condensing leakage.

Chapter 6
Motors 101 for Operators

By Bill Stark, P.E., Senior Instrument & Electrical Engineer, Bath Engineering
This chapter addresses motors and motor operation as related to pumping applications. The majority of pumps apply an
induction AC motor as their driver and this type of motor is addressed. In comparison to mechanical equipment such as
pumps, fans, and gearboxes, the motor is nearly a perfect machine with energy conversion rates of 96% or better. Under
ideal conditions, a good quality motor should last a lifetime, and 30 to 50 years is not uncommon even in harsh
industrial plant environments. The root causes of most failures in motors are mechanical in nature rather than failure of
the electrical components, with bearings being the most common bad actor. Any motor-driven process machine that
exhibits frequent motor failures should be examined to determine their root cause and provide engineered solutions or
protection against reoccurrence.

Motor Bearings:
Motor bearings are susceptible to contamination. Contamination causes the bearing to fail, which in turn causes the
motor to lock up and possibly burn up the windings. Contaminates include dust, dirt, water, or process fluids and vapors
that can destroy the lubricant or corrode the bearing. To extend the life of the motor, operators should focus their efforts
on protecting the bearing from these contaminates. Regular lubrication with proper greases, without over-greasing,
purges contaminates out of the bearing housing and maintains the bearing. Operators should avoid directing highpressure wash water at the bearing to prevent water intrusion into the bearing housing. Tables 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 below
provide some guidelines for motor greasing, based on frame sizes and duty. Frame sizes are identified on the motor
nameplate. Over greasing a motor may result in grease entering into the motor housing and shorting or damaging the
electrical components of the motor. Refer to the chapter on lubrications for more details. For large and critical pumps,
motor bearing temperatures and oil or grease temperatures may be monitored to provide indication of bearing or
lubrication problems.
Table 6.1, Greasing Quantity Recommendations
Recommended Grease Lubrication for
Motors based on Frame Size
Frame Size

Quantity of Pumps

143-256

2-3 Strokes

7-9

4-5 Strokes

10-20

6-10 Strokes

Notes:
1. Using standard hand held grease gun
2. Before greasing clean zert fitting and open grease plug.
3. Do not over grease motor.

Table 6.2, Greasing Frequency Recommendations

Frequency of Lubrication based on


Speed, Frame, and Type of Service
Frame
143T-256T

284T-365T

404T-447T

Speed (rpm)

Standard Duty

Severe Duty

Harsh Duty

3600

8 Mos.

4 Mos.

1 Mos.

900-1800

30 Mos.

12 Mos.

4 Mos.

3600

8 Mos.

4 Mos.

1 Mos.

900-1800

24 Mos.

12 Mos.

4 Mos.

3600

8 Mos.

4 Mos.

1 Mos.

900-1800

18 Mos.

8 Mos.

3 Mos.

Notes:
1. When re-lubricating roller bearings divide the monthly service by two.
2. Standard duty = 8 hrs/day operation, light or normal loading, clean dust free environment.
3. Severe duty = 24 hrs/day operation, light to normal shock loading and vibration, exposure to dirty and
dusty environment.
4. Harsh duty = 24 hrs/day operation, high ambient temperatures, normal to high shock loading and
vibrations, dirty and dusty environments.

Table 6.3, Bearing Temperature Guidelines

Recommended Bearing Temperatures


Anti-Friction BearingGrease Lubricated

Bearing Temp.

Grease Temp.

Typical Running Temperature

90C

80C

Alarm Temperature

110C

100C

Trip Temperature

120C

110C

Sleeve BearingOil Lubricated

Bearing Temp.

Oil Temp.

Typical Running Temperature

80C

60C

Alarm Temperature

90C

70C

Trip Temperature

95C

75C

Notes: For large and critical motors consult manufacturers recommendations

Vibration
Mechanical vibration in the motor causes stress on the bearings, motor windings, and the connected pump. Likewise,
the pump or other process equipment may transmit vibration back onto the motor causing damage to the key
components. The lower the motor vibration levels are the higher its reliability and therefore the reliability of the entire

pumping system. Vibration in the motor is caused by imbalance of the rotor or lack of good rotor centering. These
problems are due to poor quality in the manufacturing process and cannot be addressed by the operator in the field. If
high vibration levels are observed in a motor, the operator should refer the problem to the maintenance or engineering
departments. Larger and critical motors may have electronic monitoring systems that alarm and shut down the motor
upon detection of high levels of vibration in the motor. Refer to Table 6.4 below for recommended vibration settings.
Table 6.4 Vibration Setting Recommendations

Recommended Vibration Settings for Standard Motors


Speed (rpm)

Shaft Vibration (mils)

Brg. Housing Vibration (mils)

Alarm

Shutdown

Alarm

Shutdown

3600

2.50

3.00

1.00

1.50

1800

3.00

3.50

2.00

2.50

1200

3.00

3.50

2.00

2.50

900

3.00

3.50

2.00

2.50

Notes: For large and critical motors consult manufacturers recommendations

Motor Overload
Heat is a motors main enemy. Excessive heat causes the insulation materials with-in the motor to degrade or fail,
resulting in a shorter motor life or immediate failure (shorting of the windings) of the motor. Operation of a motor at 10C
above its design temperatures will reduce the life of a motor by half.
Heat is generated by the current passing through the motor. Increased currents result from motor stalling (overloading or
equipment jam), acceleration of the motor (starting), and high ambient temperature running conditions. Each time a
motor is started huge amounts of current, 6 to 10 normal full load amps, is required to accelerate the motor up to
operating speed. This generally lasts for a very short duration, often less than 10 seconds. The heat generated during
this period must be ejected from the motor through the motor casing. For larger motors, over 250 hp, monitoring and
controls are often configured to prevent multiple starting of a motor in a short duration, allowing time for the motor to cool
off after attempted re-starts. Regardless of the controls, motors should not be repetitively re-started without allowing
adequate time for cool-down. Some large motors (>250 HP) require more than an hour to cool after 2 or 3 start attempts.
Most likely, should a motor fail to start after 2 attempts there is another problem either mechanical or process, which
needs to be corrected. Motor thermal limits are dictated by the design of the motor that defines the maximum allowed restarts and required cool time between re-starts. Consult the manufacturer for this information on large and critical
motors.
There are several different ways motors are started. Traditionally, the most common is across the line which means
that when the start button is pressed the full line voltage and current capacity are connected to the motor. There are no
equipment or components limiting or adjusting the current flow other than the circuit breaker or fuseshould the current
get out of safe range. The motor generally starts and ramps up to speed in quick order of less than 10 seconds. This
creates an in-rush on the electrical distribution system and if the motor is large enough it may cause large enough dips
in the voltage on the line that affect other loads connected to the line causing motors to stall, drop off line, or make lights
flicker. When starting large motors (>500 HP), coordination with other plant operations may be required prior to starting
them.
Newer installations may have soft starters installed to prevent these voltage dips on the line. Soft starters are
electronic packages that limit the current in-rush to a motor and ramp the motor up in a slower and controlled fashion.
Ramp up times can range from 10 to 60 seconds, or even up to a few minutes. An added feature of soft starters is they
can be used to reduce water hammer problems or other process and equipment shock problems when a motor is to be
started.

If process variation (flow rates or pressure) is desired, the motor speed can be adjusted using a variable speed drive.
These devices are called by different names such as variable frequency controls or VFC or VFD. Regardless of the
name, VFCs allow the motor speeds to be adjusted within a limited range. The type and quality of the motor defines the
range of speeds, but generally a motor can be over-sped by 15% and slowed to about 30% without serious
consequences. However, keep in mind that bearing life tends to be reduced during overspeed conditions and insulation
life tends to be shortened at slower speeds.
Slowing the motor down reduces the air flow over the motor (the fan is attached to the motor shaft) thus reducing the
motors ability to remove the heat from the motor housing. Operators should monitor the motors housing temperature to
prevent motor burn out during slow speeds. A good test is a touch test, if you cannot place your hand on the motor
because it is too hot, chances are, it is too hot and corrective action should be implemented. VFCs are a form a soft
start and provide the same benefits of a soft starter in regards to line voltage dips. The VFC installation provides a
tremendous energy reduction benefit should the process allows for motor operation below rated speed. Because pumps
follow the affinity laws, a small reduction in speed of the motor provides significant energy savings with limited reduction
in flow.
The affinity laws state that:
1) Flow is proportional to shaft speed:

2) Pressure or Head is proportional to the square of shaft speed:

3) Power is proportional to the cube of shaft speed:

Controls
The introduction of computers to processing plants has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years. Computer
functions and control schemes come in many different levels from the very simple to the very complex and
sophisticated. Local controls are the simplest, often including only a stop/start button wired to the motor starter.
Additional devices in the field or motor control center (MCC), such as switches, e-stops, remote starts, process interlock
relays, and motor protective relays, may be included to the control of the motor. These types of controls are considered
hard-wired as they are physically in the field or MCC and are physically interconnected with wire. Distributive Controls
Systems (DCS) and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) allow for controls to be implemented by software logic and
programming. These types of controls are easy for the engineer to implement and require fewer field devices and
wiring. Once the control systems are in place it becomes relatively inexpensive to modify or add controls and interlocks.

Instrumentation
In some motor applications, field measurements are made to provide insight into the health of the motor or infer process
conditions. For motor protection, RTD and Thermocouples are often installed in the winding and bearings. This
measurement allows the operator to determine if the motor is overloaded or bearings are near failure. Monitoring motor
current or power can provide indication of motor loading; loss of feed, or changes in viscosity. Power measure is always
preferred and more accurate over the full range of the motors loading. Motor running indication can be implemented by
installation of a device on the shaft to measure rpms and provide positive feed back that the motor is running. Use of
the motors contactor relays is also used to infer the motors run status. Vibration monitors may be installed to monitor
mechanical integrity of the motor and pump.

Electrical Safety
I wanted to add a final note regarding electrical safety. Electricity is a powerful force and should always be respected.
When equipment is misused or poorly maintained the opportunities for injuries increase. Poor electrical connections or
grounding can sometimes present strange unpredicted results. Industrial plants have often been designed with
ungrounded distribution systems, which allow higher reliability. These systems can some times have a phase short to
ground and continue to operate. Small shocks (tingling) can sometimes be felt when touching equipment or steel

structures. These should always be investigated and the sources tracked down, otherwise they could result in larger
issues should conditions change. Equipment grounds, conduits, and wiring terminations should be inspected
frequently. Plugs and receptacles should have good connection with a grounding pin. Ground Fault Interrupters (GFIs)
should be used on extension cords at all times. Any faulty electrical system component should be removed from service
until repairs are made.
When involved in Lock out Tag outs (LOTOs) you should always consider the type of controls in place on the motor. It
is sometimes very difficult to assure a lock out is in effect if the motor is interlocked with other process equipment and
controlled via DCS/PLC and software. The motor should be running, shutdown, locked out at the breaker, and then
attempted to start it again to assure it is disconnected. Although this seems simple enough it is often difficult during plant
shutdowns due to interlocks, construction activity, or due to process conditions.

Chapter 7
Pump Lubrication in a Nutshell
Introduction:
The most preventable types of centrifugal pump failures are lubrication related failures. With sufficient attention to
details, lubrication failures should be rare events. Operators play a key role in maximizing the lubricants useful life
through their vigilance.
The lubricants and sealing methods available today have greatly improved the reliability of sump type lubrication
systems. All centrifugal pumps require lubrication of their radial and axial bearings in order to maintain the rotors
position relative to the casing and ensure reliable operation. Lubrication serves the following critical functions:
Reduce friction between the rotating and stationary components
Reduce wear
Absorb shock
Carry heat generated by friction within the bearing
Remove heat transmitted down the shaft from the process end of the pump
Minimize corrosion
Keep contaminates away from the bearing components

Types of Lubrication
Grease is a solid to semi-fluid mixture of a thickening agent, such as a chemical soap, and liquid lubrication. Some
commonly used soaps are polyurea for electric motor applications and lithium for pillow block bearings and similar
rolling element bearing applications. Figure 7.1 shows a typical greased bearing with a zerk fitting for grease addition.
Remember: You should never mix greases without first checking with your lubrication group. Mixing grease types can
be the same as contaminating the lubrication and the result is either softer grease that allows lubricant to flow away
from the application at a lower temperature or harder grease that decreases its ability to lubricate.
Here are a few grease facts:
Grease is typically used in lower speed applications (1800 rpm or less)
Grease thicknesses range from 000 (semi-fluid grease) to 6 (block grease)
The cheapest grease is about $6 a tube
The most expensive is about $240 per tube

Figure 7.1, Double-shielded bearing with grease-metering


plate facing grease reservoir
Greasing Tips

Keep grease guns out of the weather. (Clean and dry)


Clean grease zerk fitting before adding grease
Ensure grease coupler is clean before use
When greasing, remove vent plug to allow old grease to be expelled
Dont over grease! Always follow re-greasing guidelines.
Oil is a liquid lubricant that is usually splashed into the bearings by either slingers/flinger rings (see Figure 7.2 on page
86) or oil rings. For splash lubrication to work properly, a constant oil level must be maintained in the bearing housing.
The most common means of maintaining a level is through the use of a constant level oiler.
Oils fall into three main categories:
o Animal/vegetable oils, which are not commonly used in industrial pumps
o Mineral oils are the most commonly used pump lubricants due to their relatively low cost. They have moderate
oxidation and viscosity stability and cost about $12 per gallon or more.
o Synthetics (man-made), which are used in the more demanding pump applications, cost $32 per gallon or more
and have very good oxidation and viscosity stability.

Figure 7.2, Splash lubrication


Oil selection is based on the special lubricating need of the pump application. For example, hot pumps may use a
heavier or more viscous oil to compensate for the loss of viscosity at the higher operating temperatures. Another
example would be the use synthetic oil for an application where a mineral oil might oxidize too quickly.
An oils lubricating performance is greatly degraded by contamination, due to ingress of atmospheric water and dirt, and
oxidation, a chemical reaction between oxygen and oil at high temperatures. Operators must be aware of these two
pump killers. Special bearing housing seals can be installed that will greatly reduce external sources of contamination.
As for oxidation, synthetic oils can be employed to handle high operating temperatures.
Oil Mist Lubrication is formed of oil particles 1.0 to 3.0 microns in diameter suspended in a current of air, consisting of
1 part oil to 200,000 parts air. This mixture is not a volatile organic compound (VOC); therefore there is no risk of
explosion or combustion. There are two main oil mist applications: 1) pure mist for lubrication and 2) purge mist for
preservation (Source: Oil Mist Institute website). Once the mist arrives at the bearing housing, it must pass through a
reclassifier, which produces turbulence and then coalesces the mist into larger oil particles capable of wetting and
lubricating the bearings.
Bearing housings can be lubricated with pure oil mist (see Figure 7.3), i.e., no oil level in the housings, or with a purge
mist, where an oil level is maintained and the oil mist is simply used to deter the ingress of atmospheric contaminants.

The pure oil mist applications tend to run cooler (20 degrees or more). Keep in mind that while oil mist has been
successfully applied on many styles of centrifugal pumps, it may not be appropriate for use in some highly loaded
bearing applications with more severe lubrication requirements.

Figure 7.3 Example of a pure mist application


Here are a few tips for oil mist systems:
Every gauge round
Check to ensure you have a correct level in oil mist generator
Check vents and drains to ensure you are getting adequate oil mist flow

Quarterly
Pull relief valve at the mist generator to ensure that it is working properly
Inspect oil mist piping to ensure it is sloped properly and has not been damaged

Do not pinch off oil mist supply to out of service equipment. If enough supply lines are pinched off, the systems
oil mist performance may be affected. The air stream in feed lines must be kept laminar, below approximately 24
feet/second, because turbulence causes oil particles to impact the pipe wall and be removed from the air stream
before reaching delivery points. Similarly, at abnormally low velocities, due to pinching off or blocking off oil mist
supply lines to idle pumps, oil droplets may also settle out prematurely.

Closed Loop Lubrication Systems


Critical pumps often employ closed loop systems for lubrication due to their inherently higher reliability. While
discussion of these systems is beyond the scope of this book, I will point a few things to watch out for when monitoring
these critical systems:
a. Rise in oil level. This could mean process fluids are entering the reservoir via a process seal.
b. Drop in oil level. This usually means an oil leak of some kind.
c. High oil temperatures. This means you either have a plugging heat exchanger or a failing bearing
d. High reservoir levels. Never have oil reservoir level above the oil return line elevation! This will:
i. Reduce or prevent oil return flow
ii. Results in high bearing housing levels
iii. Results in high hearing temperatures

e. High filter differential pressures. This is an undesirable condition because it can starve your oil supply system
and eventually lead to an oil filter rupture.

Lubrication Responsibilities

Operators should always strive to keep lubricants:


Clean by sealing, purging and filtering
Cool by maintaining the effectiveness of your water cooled heat exchangers or air fins heat exchangers
Serviceable by periodically inspecting and testing used oils for contamination and the condition of additives
Healthy by replacing lubricants on either a time basis or condition basis
On a daily basis you should check oil levels on all wet sump applications as well as the oils condition (Is the oil clear,
hazy, or milky?).
You should also maintain a list of all pumps requiring grease in your areas of responsibility and apply the proper
quantity of grease at the prescribed intervals.

Chapter 8
10 Ways to Protect Your Pumps
Your Inheritance
You have inherited the pumps in your processes. The pumps that have been installed are probably there to stay. Once
installed, pumps are rarely replaced unless they wear out or are upgraded for more flow or pressure. It takes an act of
Congress to get a pump replaced due to unreliability, which is unfortunate but true. You have also inherited the piping
and control systems connected to your pumps. How well they were designed and installed has a great deal of effect on
the reliability of your pumps. Your pump, piping, and controls come as a package deal. You must learn how to live with
your entire pumping systems and learn to deal with their unique characteristics.

Pump Reliability
It should go without saying that first and foremost that your maintenance organization must consistently install the
correct parts into your pumps, using the proper installation methods to have a chance of ever achieving world-class
reliability. However this portion of a pumps life is outside your control. So how can operators make an impact on
reliability? You can significantly affect pump reliability by controlling:
Forces acting on your shaft, impeller, bearings, and seals. These forces can be static and dynamic in nature.
Temperatures acting on your seals, bearings, and lubrication. Temperatures can come from the process or can
be the result of friction of pump components.
Corrosion due to chemical attack on you impeller and casing
Contaminants acting on your lubrication from the environment
Solids accumulating on your rotating and stationary components that originate from the process.

Protecting Your Pumps


Here are ten ways under your control to positively effect on pump reliability.
1. Keep the pump casing and suction line liquid full. Pumps and their suction piping must always be liquid full to
develop full pressure and flow and provide cooling to internal components, thereby controlling pump forces and
temperatures. Liquid is also required at all the internal components, such as wear rings and bushings, so that they
may function properly and prevent metal to metal contact. This is accomplished by providing high points at all pump
casing and piping highpoints (see Figure 8.1).

Figure 8.1, High point vent valve for pump casing


However, there are some situations that require special considerations:
a. High vapor pressure, flammable, and toxic fluids. Special vent piping is required to port these fluids to a safe
location.
b. Multistage pumps with multiple high points. This situation requires a vent at every internal high point.
c. Sealless pumps. Most mag drive and canned motor pumps use the pumped product to cool and lubricate
internal bearings. You should take extra precautions to ensure your sealless pumps and suction piping are

completely vapor free. Before starting up, double check all high points.
Ways to Air-Free Pumps after a Repair
In the last few decades, there have been numerous laws enacted to protect humans and the environment from the
release of harmful fluids and vapors. This has led to the design and marketing of many ingenious sealing systems
and pumps aimed as mitigating the release of these identified fluids. For these reasons, venting pumps for the
purpose of air-freeing them prior to a repair is now treated with much greater care than in days gone by. To achieve
the desired result safer and greener, we have to be more creative. If there is a discharge check valve and the
discharge is pressurized as shown in Figure 8.2a, b, and c, here are a few ways to prime your pumps depending of
the risk level of the fluid being pumped. (Note: If there is no discharge check valve and the discharge is
unpressurized, horizontal and self-venting pumps will air-free themselves once the suction valve is open.)

Figure 8.2a, b, and cBelow are the steps required to air-free pumps with check valves and a pressurized
discharge line. 1) Open the suction valve. 2) Open the vent valve until the casing is liquid full.

Vent from pump and/or discharge piping high point:


o To atmosphere (low risk fluids)
o To a sewer, via tubing or piping (moderate risk fluids)
o To a sump, via tubing or piping (moderate risk fluids)
o Into a suitable container, via tubing or piping. Fluid can then be returned to process. PPE (personal protective equipment) may be
required. (moderate risk fluids)
o Into a flare line, via tubing or piping (volatile fluids)
o Back to suction vessel or tank, via tubing or piping (high risk fluids)
o Back to the vapor space of a suitable vessel or tank (high risk fluids)

Displace air with water or demineralized waterif the process can tolerate it (low or moderate risk fluids)
Displace air with a fluid compatible with the process. This still requires vent line back to a sewer or sump. (low or
moderate risk fluids)
Pull a vacuum at the highpoint of the discharge piping to remove as much air as possible before opening the
suction valve. This method, based on Boyles Law, can be called vacuum-priming. Keep in mind this priming
method will only work with self-venting horizontal pumps. Pulling the initial vacuum can also be used as a test to
determine if any leaks are present. If we desire a 90% fill of the pump and piping system before start-up, we can
employ the following formula: Pvacuum= Psuction/10 (pressure values must be in absolute pressure). Heres a
simple example to illustrate the usage of the formula. Lets say you have a horizontal and self-venting pump that
provides a 20 psig pressure at the pumps suction. This means that if you evacuate the pump casing to
(20+14.7)/10 or 3.47 psia or 22.93 inches of mercury (vacuum), you can expect to reduce the air pocket to 10% of
the volume without a vacuum or need to vent to the atmosphere.

Caution: Before using the vacuum-priming method, ensure all pump components, i.e., casing, seal,
containment shell, etc., are rated for full vacuum pressure!

2. Preheat hot service pumps. One of the major dangers of pump with galling tendencies is that of internal rubbing.
Rubbing can be caused by pump casing distortion or differential expansion between the rotor and casing. You
dont have any control over casing distortion or poor piping design, but you can control the differential growth
between the rotor and stator by preheating your hot pumps.

Figure 8.3, Warm-up bypass piping


One common means of warming preheating your pumps is with a small bypass around the pumps discharge and
check valve (see Figure 8.3). (Note: For larger pumps, a better practice is to install warm-up piping that allows hot
liquid to flow into the bottom of the casing and out the discharge nozzle to ensure the entire pump is adequately
preheated. Multiple warm-up lines are recommended at the bottom of large multistage pump casings to allow
thorough pre-heating.) Any pump with galling tendencies that operates above 150oF should be preheated prior to
start-up. The risk of galling or grabbing is proportional to the pumps operating temperature. So, the hotter the pump
operates the more care should be taken to ensure it is properly preheated. Insulation should be used to assist in the
warm-up process and to maximize the thermal growth of the casing. Prior to start-up an infrared temperature gun
can be used to ensure the casing is properly heated.
3. Provide plenty of suction pressure (NPSHa>NPSHr) at all times. As discussed in the Primer, you must always
try to prevent flashing from occurring in the pumps suction eye. To ensure your fluid does not flash, you must
maintain sufficient pressure and level in the pumps suction source to ensure ample suction head is available, i.e.,
NPSHa. There are two ways to guarantee you dont flash:
a. For flooded suction pump arrangements, assume that the fluid in your suction vessel is at its bubble point, meaning that your
NPSHa is simply the elevation of your liquid level above the pumps suction flange. This will provide an added factor of safety for
your suction head.
b. Always incorporate an NPSHa safety margin to deal with process upsets. This means if the pump requires 10 feet of suction
head over the vapor pressure to preclude flashing, maintain additional level (12 feet+) as a safety margin.

4. Operate close to the BEP flow. We have discussed this at great length in the Primer. You might ask, What can
I do to make a difference here? There are two ways you can affect positive changes with respect to off design
operation:
a. Be on the look out for pumps that operate well below their best efficiency point. These are pumps that vibrate and generate
pressure pulsations incessantly. While it is not your job to justify pump replacements, you can assist in identifying poor selections.
b. Be on the lookout for pumps with control systems that are damaging your pumps. One example is vessel level that is control by a
pumps output flow. This seems like a harmless design, but think of what happens when the vessel level is low and when the level is
high. When the level is extremely high, the pumps control valve will open, allowing the pump to operate at high flows, possibly
beyond BEP flow. When the level is exceedingly low, the pumps control valve will respond by closing and reducing flow to
unhealthy levels. These situations can also arise with pumps operating under temperature control.

One common solution to the adverse effects of pure level and temperature control is to incorporate a low flow protection scheme into the
basic control schemes, so that at extremely low pump flows a spillback line will open back to the suction vessel. This will ensure a healthy
flow to the pump at all times. For high flow protection, software stops can be used to prevent excessive flow under normal conditions.
These predetermined stops can be overridden if high fluid levels or temperatures are experienced during upset conditions.

Ed Nelson and John Dufour explain the risks of off-design operation


When operations is at reduced capacity, i.e., at a flow significantly less than BEP and at a higher head, the
fixed vane angles will now cause eddy flows within the impeller, casing, and between wear rings. The radial
thrust on the rotor increases, causing high shaft stresses, increased shaft deflection, and potential bearing
and mechanical seal problems, while radial vibration and shaft axial movement will also increase. Continued
operation in this mode will result in accelerated deterioration of the mechanical and hydraulic performance
and may ultimately result in the failure of the pump.
(From the Centrifugal Pump Sourcebook, 1993, page 3)

5 . Regularly monitor pump performance. First things first. It is impossible to monitor your pumps without suction
and discharge pressure gauges. Pressure gauges are invaluable for checking general pump performance during
your daily rounds by providing quick, visual confirmation of pressures. They also allow you to spot off-design
performance, cavitation, piping restrictions, and other performance anomalies.
The two reasons I hear most often for not having pressure gauges in the field are a) they never work when you need them and b) they
always plug up due to the nature of the fluid. A solution to the first concern is to only use gauges on your most critical pump and replace
them as they fail. The solution to the second concern is to periodically, perhaps monthly, install and then record pressure readings and
then remove them for future use.

Cavitation or Low Flow Internal Recirculation?


Whenever you find a pump with erratic discharge (or suction) pressures, the first question to ask yourself is,
Is this caused by cavitation or is it a low flow problem? There are two quick tests you can use to help
answer this question. First, if you have a main and a spare pump, with one of the pumps already running you
can start-up the idle pump to see what happens. If the pressure pulsations diminish, you probably have a
cavitation problem. This is because now you have approximately half the flow going through each pump and
therefore you need significantly less NPSHa to suppress cavitation. However if the pressure pulsations
intensify, you probably have a low-flow problem. The second method is to pinch down on the pumps
discharge valve. If the pump quiets down, it is probably a cavitation problem due to reduced NPSHa
requirements at the lower flow condition, but if the pressure pulsations intensify, you probably have a lowflow problem.
I want to caution you to be extremely careful when administering these types of pump flow tests. Both
cavitation and low flow instabilities are very damaging conditions, so you need to minimize the time your
pumps are subjected to these situations.

6. Provide adequate backpressure to avoid runout. In the Primer, we discussed the importance of providing
adequate backpressure for your centrifugal pumps. If this is not done, they will operate well beyond the BEP flow
and cavitateor even trip due to driver overload. Figure 8.4 illustrates what happens when a pump that normally
operates with a fixed back-pressure is called upon to operate at a much lower differential pressure. Instead of
operating at its BEP flow, here the pump operates at 150% or more of its BEP flow.

Figure 8.4, The effect of operating without back-pressure


A simple way to prevent this from occurring during start-ups, where the discharge system is empty or not fully
pressured, is by pinching the discharge valve partially closed, i.e., about 25% open. Not only does this protect the
pump, it will also assist your motor by minimizing the pumps torque requirements at the lower start-up flow
conditions. This will get the pump up to speed quicker, while minimizing the in-rush motor current and thereby
allowing the motor windings to operate cooler and less stressed.
This topic will be discussed in more detail in Chapters 9 and 10.

7 . Provide ideal seal conditions for your seals and monitor their condition. Seals are the weakest link of all
centrifugal pump components. They must be afforded the best possible environment for reliable operation. While
you do not have the means of improving their design, you can maximize their chances of survival by paying close
attention to your seal auxiliary systems. (This topic is discussed in great detail in Chapter 5.)
8 . Provide adequate lubrication and cooling. This is another common sense item, but it warrants repeating.
Lubrications must be available, clean, and cool to work properly. (This topic is covered in great detail in Chapter 7.)
Cooling systems are often neglected or forgotten. Cooling is used in seal auxiliaries, lubrication systems, and
sometimes to cool pump pedestals, although pump cooling is no longer in vogue. The key problem with cooling
systems is that they tend to plug due to either scaling or build-up of cooling water solids, such as silt. You must
always be vigilant to the possibility of plugged cooling water lines and passages. Warm cooling water in outlet
lines indicate you are removing heat, while a cool outlet line may indicate cooling has diminished or ceased. Backflushing should be your first step to try to restore cooling effectiveness. If that fails to restore adequate cooling,
acidizing or replacement of the cooler in question (if practical) may be required.
9. Minimize pump vibration. Vibration kills. Vibration is the most common source of dynamics force acting on your
impeller, shaft, bearings, and seals. While you cannot directly affect vibration levels you can manage them. You
should be vigilant of any dramatic changes in pump vibration levels. Sudden increases in pump noise can signal
that something has changed inside a pump. Your job is to ensure vibration levels never reach levels that may result
in secondary damage. Once vibration levels reach this threshold, massive seal failures, bearing failures, and even
bearing housing failures can occur. You need to work with your vibration department regularly and alert them to any
changes in pump vibration levels. If dramatic changes do occur, you may want to decrease the pumps inspection
interval until the pump can be scheduled for repair.
10. Flush pumps thoroughly when idle if the product tends to set-up or solidify. Potentially troublesome fluids that
tend to set-up, crystallize, or contain solids that settle should be flushed from the pump casing and seal cavity
whenever a pump is removed from service. This is easier said than done. To effectively clear a pump of these types
of fluids requires a suitable flushing medium and well-designed ingress and egress piping to ensure sufficient
velocities are provided throughout the pump and seal cavities during the flushing process. Operations and pump
and piping designers must work together to guarantee this critical auxiliary piping is properly conceived and
installed.

Beware of Parallel Pump Operation


Great care must be taken whenever pumping with two or more centrifugal pumps into the same discharge
header (see Figure 8.5). This pumping configuration is called parallel operation. This practice becomes even
riskier whenever dissimilar pumps are placed in parallel operation.

Figure 8.5, Pump in parallel operation


The problem with this practice is that all the pumps in parallel service must experience the same differential
head. Consider this example: If two pumps in parallel operation are capable of developing the same
differential head, then you will see twice the flow that one pump can provide. If each pump is sized such that
half the total flow is near their BEP flow then you have an ideal situation. However, if one of those pumps is
worn (or has a smaller impeller or is operating at a slower speed) to the point it is only capable of providing
90% or less differential pressure of its sister pump, then you have a problem. With one degraded pump, the
stronger pump may deliver 70% to 100% of the total flow and the weaker pump only 30% to 0% of the total
flow.
It is possible that a weak pump may not even be capable of opening its discharge check valve if the
differential mismatch is too great. If a pumps shut-in or zero flow pressure is less than the discharge header
pressure, it will operate in a dangerous zero or no-flow condition. If you must operate pumps in parallel, be
sure to employ the following safeguards: 1) Ensure all pumps are similar in type, speed, and impeller
diameter, etc. 2) Install flow meters or power meters on each pump to ensure all pumps are carrying their fair
share of the load. 3) Regularly conduct performance tests on your pump to ensure they are all hydraulically
matched.

Chapter 8 Bonus
Pump Design and Installation Problems Operators Should Look Out For
By Ronald J. Carlson, Leader of the Process Industry Practices Machinery Function Team and member of the API 610,
685, and 686 Committees
Operators are the eyes and ears of the plant. They have a regular opportunity to detect equipment problems stemming
from poor design, installation, or operating conditions. Here are a few field problems everyone, especially operators,
should be on the lookout for.

During the construction phase of a project:


1. Closely watch when piping is being pulled over to the pump during flange bolt ups. The pipe flange should fit
closely to the equipment flange, allowing the bolts to be placed through both flanges, without excessive force.
Chapter 6 of API RP686/PIP REIE686 addresses piping with sections 4.6 and 4.7, covering Piping Alignment
Requirements and Piping Alignment respectively.

Tip: An easy way to avoid pipe stress is to pipe from the equipment and make a field weld 10 to 20 feet from
the pump flange.

2. Watch out for suction piping installed with high points. A high point will make a vapor pocket that will restrict
flow to the pump. Definitely do not run the suction pipe above the liquid level of a column. Even if the pipe is
evacuated for start-up, a vapor pocket will form and starve the pump.
3. For pumps installed in parallel operation, ensure the suction piping is symmetrical. This will balance the flow to
both pumps and produce equivalent performance.
4. Ensure a straight piping run of 4 to 10 pipe diameters be installed directly into the suction flange, with the
eccentric reducer flat side on top, to minimize flow turbulence and reduce vibration. The isolation valve can be in
this run, but needs to be 2 to 5 diameters upstream of the reducer. There should also be a few straight runs of pipe
between the reducer and the suction flange. Also, the suction pipe should not form more than 2 planes, i.e.,
minimize turns in the suction piping. Excessive turbulence results when the liquid makes too many turns close to
the suction nozzle.
5. Watch out for anchor bolts that are not galvanized or protected from corrosion by some other means. If not
protected, anchor bolts will rust through and release the baseplate. Vibrating equipment or piping may be your first
indication.
6. Ensure all pumps have adequate vent and drain valving and piping to facilitate safe and reliable start-ups and
shutdowns.

During normal operations:


1. Pipe shoes should not be tight against any stops. Most, but not all, designs call for the shoes to be resting on
the supports during operation. Look for shoes that have an air gap and ask if this is by design or did the
construction miss something like a spring can versus a hard shoe.
2. Most control valves are designed to run 65% to 75% open. Do they? Unless process conditions have changed,
control valves should not open up, or close from where they were designed to run. If the control valve position is
running out of this normal design range, find out why.
3. Ensure baseplates are still attached to the foundation. Are they rusted, are they level, or have any of the anchor
bolts broken? Figure 8.6 illustrates what can happen when excessive pipe strain is not addressed during
construction. Note that the anchor bolt has broken and the nut is missing. Pipe strain has lifted this portion of the
baseplate from the foundation after causing the concrete to crack.

Figure 8.6, The effect of excessive force on an anchor bolt


A periodic torque check, every few years, to confirm the anchor bolts are still tight will help prevent a lot of vibration issues. This will also
confirm that the anchor bolts have not rusted through, and are still doing their job.

4. Watch out for any process piping vibrating excessively. This can be caused by hydraulic pulses from the
pumps, or perhaps a piping natural frequency. Baseline vibration checks can help determine the cause and direct a
cure.

Chapter 9
How to Start-up a Centrifugal Pump, Part I

Avoiding early pump failures


The most critical time in a pumps life is the first 24 to 48 hours after it is repaired and started up. This is when they are
most vulnerable to infant mortality failures, also known as early failures (see Bathtub Curve box on page 104). These
are the failures related to improper repairs, part defects, and improper start-ups. All complex mechanical systems and
devices, such as airplanes, submarines, and automobiles, are prone to human induced failures after major maintenance
activities.

The Bathtub Curve


For a typical population of pumps, the distribution of failure rate versus time in service generally takes the shape of a
bathtub; hence it is called a bathtub curve (see Figure 9.1).

Figure 9.1, Bathtub curve


In this plot, time is on the abscissa (x-axis) and the failure rate is on the ordinate (y-axis). It depicts what happens as
pumps age. There are three prominent aspects of this curve:
1) Infant mortality portion, which is dominated by early failures due to improper repairs, material defects, or start-up
issues;
2) Normal or useful life, which is dominated by poor pump and pumping system designs, poor operating practices,
and upsets;
3) End of life wear-out, which is characterized by pumps that successfully reach their true end of life due to
favorable operational practices.
Operators can favorably affect all three of these regimes with sound operating practices.
Since early failures tend to draw a great deal of negative attention, it is important to track them. One metric that I found
useful in determining if you are experiencing early failure is the mean time between early failures (MTBEF) indicator.
An early failure is any failure that occurs less than 48 or 72 hours after the pump is commissioned. The number of early
failures in any year should be a small percentage of your total failures and drop to minuscule levels as operating and
repairs practices continue to improve.

Every operating entity should strive to minimize the occurrence of infant mortality failures. These types of failures are
clear indicators of fundamental problems in maintenance and operational organizations. In this chapter, I will address
operationally what you can do to reduce early failures by incorporating best practice start-up procedures.
Note: The start-up procedures in Chapters 9 and 10 assume pumps are driven by constant speed electric
motors.

Starting up pumps with fully flooded suctions and a discharge check valve

Figure 9.2 Pump with flooded suction


Pumps with fully flooded suctions and discharge check valves represent the largest population of process pumps
installations at most sites. It is therefore appropriate to cover their start-ups in the most detail.
We must first consider the different start-up scenarios encountered in the context of normal operations. There are two
main start-up categories: 1) Start-ups after repairs, and 2) start-ups of proven pumps. Each one of these start-up
situations can provide their own unique set of challenges, such as, a) start-ups with a full but un-pressurized system,
and b) start-ups with a fully pressurized system. This means we have to consider at least four different start-up
conditions. Lets assign code 1a for a start-up after a repair with an un-pressurized system, and 1b for a start-up after a
repair with a fully pressurized system. Similarly, we will assign code 2a for a start-up of a proven pump with an unpressurized system and 2b for a start-up of a proven pump with a fully pressurized system. To ensure reliable
centrifugal pump start-ups, each one of these scenarios must be addressed by a clear written procedure.

Start-up 1a: After a repair with an un-pressurized system


This is the most difficult and potentially risky of all the start-ups. It is important that each step be followed. Additional
steps may be required for your particular process.
1. Inspect the pump to determine if all necessary work is complete, such as piping, coupling guard, seal piping,
cooling water piping, etc.
2. Fully open the suction valve to allow fluid to begin filling the suction piping and pump.

Figure 9.3, Operator opening pump suction valve

3. Free the pump casing and suction piping of all air and vapors using high point venting valve(s).
4. Preheat the pump by opening warm-up valve(s) if required. Provide plenty of time to heat soak the casing. Use
an infrared temperature gun to make certain the casing is properly heated.
5. Check all the following if applicable
a. All oil levels
b. All cooling water lines for flow
c. Seal flush line for proper flow
d. Seal pot level
e. Seal pot gas blanket pressure

Figure 9.4, Operator checking seal pot level


6. Check pump for rotation by bumping the motor. This is to determine if the rotor is binding and if you have the
proper rotation. (Caution: If you choose to roll the pump by hand before bumping the motor, make sure the motor is
locked out for safety reasons.)
7. Ensure the fluid level in your suction vessel is at or above the recommended operating level.

Figure 9.5, Operator using radio to check suction vessel level


8. Since your discharge system is empty, it will be necessary to pinch (+/-25% open) the discharge valve to
generate adequate back-pressure. Recall that in the Centrifugal Pump Primer we discussed that pumps require
sufficient back-pressure or differential pressure across the pump to operate in a safe flow range.
9. You are now ready to start your pump. Double check everything. If everything looks right start the pump.
10. After your pump reaches full operating speed:
a. Listen for unusual noises, such as rubbing
b. Feel the pump to ensure vibration levels are normal
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady

Figure 9.6, Operator checking motor vibrations

Figure 9.7, Operator checking pump discharge pressure


11. During the time required to fill your system, the discharge valve must remain pinched. You can use an inline
flowmeter to determine when the valve can be fully opened. If you dont have a flowmeter you will have to use
pump discharge pressure as a means of determining how much and how long to pinch the discharge valve. As flow
begins to drop off or pressure starts to rise you can begin opening the discharge valve.
12. Every 15 minutes for an hour:
a. Check pump vibration levels
b. Look for pump casing, bearing housing leaks, or piping leaks
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady
d. Check to see that bearing housing temperatures are normal, using your hand or an infrared temperature gun.
e. Check to see that flow is normal

Start-up 1b: After a repair with a fully pressurized system


This procedure is employed after a spare pump has been repaired and then returned into a system where one or more
pumps are already running and generating full discharge pressure. When the spare in placed back in service, it will see
full discharge pressure immediately. It is important that each step be followed. Additional steps may be required for your
particular process.
1. Inspect the pump to determine if all necessary work is complete, such as piping, coupling guard, seal piping,
cooling water piping, etc.
2. Fully open the suction valve to allow fluid to begin filling the suction piping and pump.
3. Free the pump casing and suction piping of all air and vapors using high point venting valve(s).
4. Preheat the pump by opening warm-up valve(s) of required. Provide plenty of time to heat soak the casing. Use
an infrared temperature gun to make certain the casing is properly heated.
5. Check all the following if applicable
a. All oil levels
b. All cooling water lines for flow
c. Seal flush line for proper flow
d. Seal pot level
e. Seal pot gas blanket pressure

6. Check pump for rotation by bumping the motor. This is to determine if the rotor is binding and if you have the

proper rotation. (Caution: If you choose to roll the pump by hand before bumping the motor, make sure the motor is
locked out for safety reasons.)
7. Ensure the fluid level in your suction vessel is at or above the recommended operating level.
8. Since your discharge system is fully pressurized, you can fully open the discharge valve.
9. You are now ready to start your pump. Double check everything. If everything looks right start the pump.
10. After your pump reaches full operating speed:
a. Listen for unusual noises, such as rubbing
b. Feel the pump to ensure vibration levels are normal
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady

11. Every 15 minutes for an hour:


a. Check pump vibration levels
b. Look for pump casing, bearing housing leaks, or piping leaks
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady
d. Check to see that bearing housing temperatures are normal, using your hand or an infrared temperature gun.
e. Check to see that flow is normal

Start-up 2a: A proven pump with an un-pressurized system


This situation may arise after a lengthy outage when systems are de-inventoried or when the discharge system is
normally un-pressurized. It is important that each step be followed. Additional steps may be required for your particular
process.
1. Check to see that the suction valve is fully open and that the pump casing and suction piping are free of all air
and vapors using high point venting valve(s).
2. Preheat the pump by opening warm-up valve(s) if required. Provide plenty of time to heat soak the casing. Use
an infrared temperature gun to make certain the casing is properly heated.
3. Check all the following if applicable
a. All oil levels
b. All cooling water lines for flow
c. Seal flush line for proper flow
d. Seal pot level
e. Seal pot gas blanket pressure

4. Ensure the fluid level in your suction vessel is at or above the recommended operating level.
5. Since your discharge system is empty it will be necessary to pinch (+/-25% open) the discharge valve to
generate adequate back-pressure. Recall that in the Centrifugal Pump Primer we discussed that pumps require
sufficient back-pressure or differential pressure across the pump to operate in a safe flow range.
6. You are now ready to start your pump. Double check everything. If everything looks right start the pump.
7. After your pump reaches full operating speed:
a. Listen for unusual noises, such as rubbing
b. Feel the pump to ensure vibration levels are normal
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady

8. During the time required to fill your system, the discharge valve must remain pinched. You can use an inline
flowmeter to determine when the valve can be fully open. If you dont have a flowmeter you will have to use pump
discharge pressure as a means of determining how much and how long to pinch the discharge valve. As flow
begins to drop off or pressure starts to rise you can begin opening the discharge valve.

9. Every 15 minutes for an hour:


a. Check pump vibration levels
b. Look for pump casing, bearing housing leaks, or piping leaks
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady
d. Check to see that bearing housing temperatures are normal, using your hand or an infrared temperature gun.
e. Check to see that flow is normal

Start-up 2b: A proven pump with a fully pressurized system


This situation represents the easiest of all the start-ups. It is important that each step be followed. Additional steps may
be required for your particular process.
1. Check to see that the suction valve is fully open and that the pump casing and suction piping are free of all air
and vapors using high point venting valve(s).
2. Preheat the pump by opening warm-up valve(s) if required. Provide plenty of time to heat soak the casing. Use
an infrared temperature gun to make certain the casing is properly heated.
3. Check all the following if applicable
a. All oil levels
b. All cooling water lines for flow
c. Seal flush line for proper flow
d. Seal pot level
e. Seal pot gas blanket pressure

4. Ensure the fluid level in your suction vessel is at or above the recommended operating level.
5. Since you are pumping into a fully pressurized system, you can open the discharge valve fully.
6. You are now ready to start your pump. Double check everything. If everything looks right start the pump.
7. After your pump reaches full operating speed:
a. Listen for unusual noises, such as rubbing
b. Feel the pump to ensure vibration levels are normal
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady

8. Every 15 minutes for an hour

a. Check pump vibration levels


b. Look for pump casing, bearing housing leaks, or piping leaks
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady
d. Check to see that bearing housing temperatures are normal, using your hand or an infrared temperature gun
e. Check to see that flow is normal

Chapter 10
How to Start-up a Centrifugal Pump, Part II
Starting up vertical pumps with submerged suctions and a discharge check valve

Figure 10.1 Vertical turbine pumps


Vertical turbine pumps with submerged suction bells and discharge check valves require a slightly different start-up
procedure than the ones recommended for fully flooded suction pumps with discharge check valves. While this pump
type usually represents a small percentage of a sites total pump population, I felt they should be covered here in detail
due to the fact they tend to be expensive to repair because they are relatively larger and more complex than your typical
process pump.
We will consider the different start-up scenarios encountered in the context of normal operations. There are two main
start-up categories: Start-ups of pumps after repairs and start-ups of proven pumps. Each one of these start-up
situations can provide their own unique set of challenges, such as: a) start-ups with a full but un-pressurized system,
and b) start-ups with a fully pressurized system. This means we have to consider at least four different start-up
conditions. Lets assign code 3a for a start-up after a repair of a vertical pump with an un-pressurized system, and 3b for
a start-up after a repair of a vertical pump with a fully pressurized system. Similarly, we will assign code 4a for a start-up
of a proven vertical pump with an un-pressurized system and 4b for a start-up of a proven vertical pump with a fully
pressurized system. To ensure reliable pump start-ups, each one of these scenarios must be addressed by a clear
written procedure.

Start-up 3a: Unproven vertical turbine pump with an un-pressurized system


This is the most difficult and potentially risky of all the vertical turbine pump start-ups. Lets briefly run through the steps
required to safely start-up one that has been recently repaired and returned to service. Additional steps may be required
for your particular process.
1. Inspect the pump to determine if all necessary work is complete, such as piping, seal piping, cooling water
piping, etc.
2. If accessible, inspect all pit inlet screens to ensure they are not plugged with debris.
3. Ensure the pit level is sufficient to provide adequate submergence for the suction bell.

Submergence is the distance that a vertical pumps suction bell is located below the fluid level as shown in
figure 10.2 below. It is vital that the minimum recommended submergence be maintained or exceeded to
prevent air entrainment into the first stage impeller.

Figure 10.2Typical Cooling Tower Vertical Turbine Pump Installation

4. Check all the following if applicable


a. All oil levels
b. All cooling water lines for flow
c. Seal flush line for proper flow
d. Seal pot level
e. Seal pot gas blanket pressure

5. **For vertical turbine pumps with enclosed lineshafts**Initiate the correct amount of external liquid or lubricant
flow to the lineshaft bearings as recommended by the manufacturer. Skip this step if it does not apply to your pump.
6. Check pump for rotation by bumping the motor. This is to determine if the rotor is binding and if you have the
proper rotation. (Caution: If you choose to roll the pump by hand before bumping the motor, make sure the motor is
locked out for safety reasons.)
7. Since your discharge system is un-pressurized, it will be necessary to pinch (+/-25% open) the discharge valve
to generate adequate back-pressure. Recall that in the Centrifugal Pump Primer we discussed that pumps require
sufficient back-pressure or differential pressure across the pump to operate in a safe flow range.
8. You are now ready to start your pump. Double check everything. If everything looks right start the pump.
9. After your pump reaches full operating speed:
a. Listen for unusual noises, such as rubbing
b. Feel the pump to ensure vibration levels are normal
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady

10. During the time required to fill your system, the discharge valve must remain pinched. You can use an inline
flowmeter to determine when the valve can be fully open. If you dont have a flowmeter you will have to use pump

discharge pressure as a means of determining how much and how long to pinch the discharge valve. As flow
begins to drop off or pressure starts to rise you can begin opening the discharge valve.
11. Every 15 minutes for an hour:
a. Check pump vibration levels
b. Look for pump casing, bearing housing leaks, or piping leaks
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady
d. Check to see that bearing housing temperatures are normal, using your hand or an infrared temperature gun.
e. Check to see that flow is normal and that pit flow patterns appear normal

Start-up 3b: Unproven vertical turbine pump with a fully pressurized system
This procedure is employed after a spare vertical turbine pump has been repaired and then returned into a system
where one or more pumps are already running and generating full discharge pressure. When the spare is placed back
in service, it will see full discharge pressure immediately. It is important that each step be followed. Additional steps
may be required for your particular process.
1. Inspect the pump to determine of all necessary work is complete, such as piping, seal piping, cooling water
piping, etc.
2. If accessible, inspect all pit inlet screens to ensure they are not plugged with debris.
3. Ensure the pit level is sufficient to provide adequate submergence for the suction bell.
4. Submergence is the distance that a vertical pumps suction bell is located below the fluid level. It is vital
that the minimum recommended submergence be maintained or exceeded to prevent air entrainment into the
first stage impeller.

5. Check all the following if applicable


a. All oil levels
b. All cooling water lines for flow
c. Seal flush line for proper flow
d. Seal pot level
e. Seal pot gas blanket pressure

6. **For vertical turbine pumps with enclosed lineshafts**Initiate the correct amount of external liquid or lubricant
flow to the lineshaft bearings as recommended by the manufacturer. Skip this step if it does not apply to your pump.
7. Check pump for rotation by bumping the motor. This is to determine if the rotor is binding and if you have the
proper rotation. (Caution: If you choose to roll the pump by hand before bumping the motor, make sure the motor is
locked out for safety reasons.)
8. Since you are pumping into a fully pressurized system, you can open the discharge valve fully.
9. You are now ready to start your pump. Double check everything. If everything looks right start the pump.
10. After your pump reaches full operating speed:
a. Listen for unusual noises, such as rubbing
b. Feel the pump to ensure vibration levels are normal
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady

11. During the time required to fill your system, the discharge valve must remain pinched. You can use an inline
flowmeter to determine when the valve can be fully open. If you dont have a flowmeter you will have to use pump
discharge pressure as a means of determining how much and how long to pinch the discharge valve. As flow
begins to drop off or pressure starts to rise you can begin opening the discharge valve.
12. Every 15 minutes for an hour:

a. Check pump vibration levels


b. Look for pump casing, bearing housing leaks, or piping leaks
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady
d. Check to see that bearing housing temperatures are normal, using your hand or an infrared temperature gun.
e. Check to see that flow is normal and that pit flow patterns appear normal

Start-up 4a: Proven vertical turbine pump with an un-pressurized system


This situation may arise after a lengthy outage when systems are de-inventoried or when the discharge system is
normally un-pressurized. It is important that each step be followed. Additional steps may be required for your particular
process.
1. If accessible, inspect all pit inlet screens to ensure they are not plugged with debris.
2. Ensure the pit level is sufficient to provide adequate submergence for the suction bell.
3. Submergence is the distance that a vertical pumps suction bell is located below the fluid level. It is vital
that the minimum recommended submergence be maintained or exceeded to prevent air entrainment into the
first stage impeller.

4. Check all the following if applicable:


a. All oil levels
b. All cooling water lines for flow
c. Seal flush line for proper flow
d. Seal pot level
e. Seal pot gas blanket pressure

5. **For vertical turbine pumps with enclosed lineshafts**Ensure you have the correct amount of external liquid
or lubricant flow to the lineshaft bearings as recommended by the manufacturer. Skip this step if it does not apply to
your pump.
6. Since your discharge system is empty, it will be necessary to pinch (+/-25% open) the discharge valve to
generate adequate back-pressure. Recall that in the Centrifugal Pump Primer we discussed that pumps require
sufficient back-pressure or differential pressure across the pump to operate in a safe flow range.
7. You are now ready to start your pump. Double check everything. If everything looks right start the pump.
8. After your pump reaches full operating speed:
a. Listen for unusual noises, such as rubbing
b. Feel the pump to ensure vibration levels are normal
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady

9. During the time required to fill your system, the discharge valve must remain pinched. You can use an inline
flowmeter to determine when the valve can be fully open. If you dont have a flowmeter you will have to use pump
discharge pressure as a means of determining how much and how long to pinch the discharge valve. As flow
begins to drop of or pressure starts to rise you can begin opening the discharge valve.
10. Every 15 minutes for an hour:
a. Check pump vibration levels
b. Look for pump casing, bearing housing leaks, or piping leaks
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady
d. Check to see that bearing housing temperatures are normal, using your hand or an infrared temperature gun.
e. Check to see that flow is normal and that pit flow patterns appear normal

Start-up 3b: Proven vertical turbine pump with a fully pressurized system

This situation represents the easiest of all the vertical turbine pump start-ups. It is important that each step be followed.
Additional steps may be required for your particular process.
1. If accessible, inspect all pit inlet screens to ensure they are not plugged with debris.
2. Ensure the pit level is sufficient to provide adequate submergence for the suction bell.
3. Submergence is the distance that a vertical pumps suction bell is located below the fluid level. It is vital
that the minimum recommended submergence be maintained or exceeded to prevent air entrainment into the
first stage impeller.

4. Check all the following if applicable


a. All oil levels
b. All cooling water lines for flow
c. Seal flush line for proper flow
d. Seal pot level
e. Seal pot gas blanket pressure

5. **For vertical turbine pumps with enclosed lineshafts**Ensure you have the correct amount of external liquid
or lubricant flow to the lineshaft bearings as recommended by the manufacturer. Skip this step if it does not apply to
your pump.
6. Since you are pumping into a fully pressurized system, you can open the discharge valve fully.
7. You are now ready to start your pump. Double check everything. If everything looks right start the pump.
8. After your pump reaches full operating speed:
a. Listen for unusual noises, such as rubbing
b. Feel the pump to ensure vibration levels are normal
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady

9. During the time required to fill your system, the discharge valve must remain pinched. You can use an inline
flowmeter to determine when the valve can be fully open. If you dont have a flowmeter you will have to use pump
discharge pressure as a means of determining how much and how long to pinch the discharge valve. As flow
begins to drop of or pressure starts to rise you can begin opening the discharge valve.
10. Every 15 minutes for an hour:
a. Check pump vibration levels
b. Look for pump casing, bearing housing leaks, or piping leaks
c. Look at all pressure gauges to ensure pressures are normal and steady
d. Check to see that bearing housing temperatures are normal, using your hand or an infrared temperature gun.
e. Check to see that flow is normal and that pit flow patterns appear normal

I thank all the readers that stayed with me for all the various start-up scenarios. I strongly believe it is necessary to
demonstrate the importance of attention to subtle details for all possible start-up conditions. Seemingly minor difference
in these sequences can have major effects on pump life. While deviations from these steps may not result in immediate
failure, their cumulative effects will surely erode the useful lives of your pumps.

The Typical Startup


Writing a single startup procedure for all pumps is like building an inventory of suits based on the measurements of the
average man and trying to sell it worldwide on the internet. You wouldnt sell many suits because there are very few
average men out there! Similarly, there is no typical pump startup. A single standard or typical procedure just wont cut

it when youre dealing with expensive process machinery.


To develop a suitable startup procedure, you need to ask many germane questions about your particular pumping
system:
Is the pump and seal chamber self-venting? In other words, if you flood the suction of the pump with the pumps
discharge open to atmosphere, will all the air be displaced from the pump and seal chamber? Most horizontal
pumps are designed to be self-venting. If you are not sure, ask.
Do you have a flooded suction or suction lift?
Is there a discharge check valve?
Does the pump have packing, a mechanical seal, or product lubricated bushings?
If you have a mechanical seal, what type of API plan do you have?
Is the discharge line unpressurized or pressurized?
Is this the first start-up after repair or is the pump proven?
What type of driver do you have?
Do you have VFD motor drive or an across the line motor start?
What type of pump is it? End suction overhung, vertical, horizontal multistage?
Does the pump operate > 200F?
What type of control system do you have? (Flow, level or temp)

Start-up Math
You can plainly see there are numerous pump configurations, start-up conditions, seal flush types, etc. to consider
before writing a start-up procedure. One main objective of this book was to provide readers a structured method of
developing detailed start-up procedure for all situations. If we listed all the possible start-up factors (see details below)
in order to determine the potential number of start-up sequences, we would come up with 1,536,000 different
possibilities.
1. What is the total number of possible pump orientations? Horizontal or Vertical: Two possibilities
2. What type of casing design do you have? End suction or between bearings: Two or more possibilities
3. Does the pump have a check valve? Two possibilities
4. What type of lubrication does the pump employ? Mag drive, can motor, splash lube, oil mist, closed loop, or
grease? Six or more possibilities
5. What type of suction design is used? Flooded, self-priming, lift, or submerged? Four possibilities
6. What type of mechanical seal flush plan is used? Twenty-five or more possibilities
7. What type of driver does the pump have? Electric motor (constant speed), electric motor (VFD), steam turbine,
or gas turbine? Four or more possibilities
8. Is this a hot or cold application? Two possibilities
9. What type of start-up is required? (See Chapters 9 and 10): Four or more possibilities
10. What type of vent system is required? Ten or more possibilities
(Note: These are conservative numbers, which means the total number of potential procedures could be even higher
than that calculated below.)
2 x 2 x 2 x 6 x 4 x 25 x 4 x 2 x 4 x 10 = 1,536,000 different pump start-ups
How can we possibly handle this number of start-up possibilities? You can manage this complexity by leveraging the
information provided in this book. First you start by selecting the appropriate basic start-up procedure from either
Chapters 9 or 10. Next you can find a suitable venting procedure in Chapter 8. Then choose the suitable mechanical

seal flush plan details from Chapter 5 and add the notes that pertain to start-ups to your procedure. These three
references should cover 80 to 90% of your pumps and start-up situations. Next fold all these instructions into a logical,
comprehensive start-up procedure, while remembering to fill in the missing details on the driver type, lubrication type,
and any other information unique to the pump. Finally, you should have a process engineer review the final procedure
to ensure vital process details have not been overlooked. You will then have a customized procedure that will enable
you to safely and reliably start-up your pump.

Chapter 11
Introduction to Field Troubleshooting

Pumps and pumping systems do not always function as intended for several reasons: Maybe the wrong pump was
selected for the application, maybe the wrong impeller was installed, or maybe the suction strainer is plugged. In
general, field problems can have an assortment of causes, such as design problems, assembly errors, operator errors,
or upset conditions, due to abnormal pressures, plugging, unexpected changes in fluid conditions, etc. When problems
occur, it is important that their causes be identified in a timely manner in order that normal operations are resumed as
quickly as possible. This chapter will provide a basic troubleshooting method you can use to assist in the problem
solving process.
To troubleshoot, you must first characterize the nature of the problem, that is, you must clearly determine what your
symptoms are. Once the symptom or symptoms are identified, you must next determine what potential causes can lead
to your observed symptoms. Next, you need to methodically weed out each potential cause until only one remains. This
remaining potential cause is called the root cause. It is possible that you have several root causes. Addressing possible
causes that are not root causes will either have no effect or merely mask the real problem.

Common Symptoms
Here is a list of the most common complaints from users of pumping systems:
1. Flow too low
2. Flow too high
3. Unstable flow
4. Pressure too high
5. Pressure too low
6. Power too high
7. Power too low
8. High vibrations or noisy

Common Causes
Here are the most common causes of pumping system problems:
a. Wrong impeller diameter(s)It is common that the wrong diameter impeller is installed during replacement. If
there is no indication in the repair notes that the impellers diameter was measured and documented, this must
remain a possible root cause until verified.
b. Wrong impeller speedIf an installed replacement motor has an incorrect rated speed, the pump will not
perform as designed. This can also be caused by the installation of a gearbox with the wrong gear ratio between
the pump and driver or a steam turbine driver operating at the incorrect speed. A tachometer can be used to
determine if the actual pump speed is correct.
c. Impeller installed backwardsIf it is possible to install the impeller backwards, such that its vanes are oriented
in the wrong direction, it will produce significantly less pressure than expected.
d. Pump turning backwardsWhenever an electric motor is replaced or repaired, it should always be checked to

ensure it has the proper rotational direction before start-up.


e. Back pressure too highToo much restriction or too high a pressure in the discharge piping systems will force
the pump to the left of the best efficiency point. If this condition is severe enough, the pump may not be able to open
the discharge check valve and operate in a zero flow condition. A pressure gauge on the pumps discharge nozzle
can be used to determine if pressures are abnormally high.
f. Back pressure too lowIf there is insufficient backpressure in the discharge piping system, the pump will
operate far to the right of the best efficiency point. This will result in a low discharge pressure and possibly
cavitation. A pressure gauge on the pumps discharge nozzle can be used to determine if pressures are abnormally
low.
g. Plugged suction strainer or pipingThis is a common problem on pumps with suction strainers. Always inspect
suction strainers before starting up a newly repaired pump. If the strainer is found to be unplugged, you must
continue looking for pluggage elsewhere in the suction piping. A suction pressure gauge will assist you in
determining if suction plugging is a potential problem.
h. Suction level too low or pump not adequately primedAlways check your suction level and that you have
adequately primed the pump and suction system before starting up a pump.
i. CavitationThis condition can have numerous causes, such as:
i. Higher than normal flows
ii. Low suction level
iii. Low suction tank pressure
iv. High product temperature
v. Lower than normal product vapor pressure due to start-up or upset conditions

Suction and discharge pressure gauges can provide clues as to whether cavitation is occurring. Discharge
pressure will be lower than normal and unsteady if cavitation is present.
j. Air or vapor entrainmentThis is caused whenever suctions levels drop to the point where air or vapor enters
the pumps suction piping due to vortexing. Ensure your fluid level provides adequate submergence relative to the
vessel exit nozzle or the pumps suction bell.
k. Too far away from BEPThis was discussed in great detail in the Centrifugal Pump Primer. Remember: If a
pump is operated too far away from its best efficiency point bad things happen, such as pressure pulsations,
cavitation, unstable flow, etc.

Field Test: You can always conduct the simple field test described in the Cavitation or Low Flow Internal
Recirculation? text box on page 96 to determine whether an erratic or pulsating pump is experiencing
cavitation or internal recirculation.

l. Rotor imbalanceYour vibration technician can easily determine if imbalance is likely by looking at the
frequency content of the vibration signal. Imbalance can be caused by:
i. Installing an impeller without balancing it
ii. Uneven erosion on the impeller
iii. Foreign object lodging itself in the impeller

m. Pump to driver misalignmentYour vibration technician can readily determine if misalignment is likely by
looking at the frequency content of the vibration signal. Misalignment usually results when the pump driver is not
properly aligned to the pump. However, vibration signatures similar to those of misalignment can result from piping
strain and baseplate problems.
n.
Pump worn outAs pumps age, their internal clearances gradually increase causing efficiency and
performance to drop. Here are several common field test methods you can use to determine if your pump has worn
out.

Theres More than one Way to Skin a Catand Assess a Pump


Single Variable Method
Head at shut-in conditionsWith this method, you run the pump dead headed and measure the pumps
differential pressure. This method requires a pump curve and the willingness to shut the pump in long enough to
gather the data.
Two Variable Method
Head versus FlowWith this method, you can test the pump at any flow rate. You measure the output flow (QM)
and compare it to the apparent flow (QA). The apparent flow is the test curve flow that corresponds to the fieldmeasured differential pressure. This method requires a test curve from the manufacturer.
Power versus FlowWith this method, you can also test the pump at any flow rate. To use this method, you
measure the output flow (QM) and compare it to the apparent flow (QA). The apparent flow is the test curve flow that
corresponds to the field-measured horsepower. This method requires a test curve from the manufacturer.
The two variable methods assume that the apparent lost flow (QA-QM) is due to internal leakage and can be
reestablished by renewing internal clearances.
Three Variable Method
Head, Flow, and PowerWith this method, you can test the pump at any flow rate, without the need for a
manufacturers test curve. By measuring head, flow, and power you can determine the pumps hydraulic efficiency
directly using the standard horsepower formula for centrifugal pumps. The disadvantage of this method is that it
requires the most instrumentation of all the test methods listed here.
______________________________________________________________________
I have compiled the following field troubleshooting matrix (see Table 11.1) to simplify the troubleshooting process. Keep
in mind that only the most common symptoms have been included in this matrix. As problems get more complex, I
recommend that you work in a team setting to improve your chances of finding your root cause(s) quickly and efficiently.

Table 11.1, Field Troubleshooting Matrix

(1) The potential root causes for these two columns only apply if horsepower increases with flow. These column
headings must be reserved if horsepower decreases with flow.

Troubleshooting Example
Heres an example illustrating how this matrix is used. Lets assume you are experiencing a high power load on an
electric motor driver. You first select the column titled Power too high and then write down all the Common Root
Causes for further review (see Table 11.2). Here you find that wrong impeller diameter, wrong pump speed, back
pressure too high, and pump worn out are all potential causes. Next you systematically pare down the list by
determining which potential causes are unlikely based on the information and data collected. This will leave you with
the most likely cause, or root cause, of your problem.
Table 11.2, Troubleshooting Example

(1) The potential root causes for these columns only apply if horsepower increases with flow. These column headings
must be reversed if horsepower decreases with flow.

Chapter 12
The Road to Reliable Pumps
Reliability is a Journey, Not a Destination

During a machinery reliability improvement course given by machinery expert Heinz Bloch a few years ago, he shared
an insightful story that illustrates an important aspect of reliability. Mr. Bloch told us he was asked by a plant manager
how his machinery reliability could be improved. Heinz responded by stating, I know how you can double your
machinery reliability. This definitely piqued the interest of the manager. He quickly responded by asking, Please tell
me how! To which the guru replied, I have a list of 120 things your machinists can do to improve your reliability. I
guarantee if they employ all of these methods you will, at a minimum, double your reliability. This response seemed to
surprise and disappoint the executive because he was hoping for a much simpler path to improved reliability.
In reality, there is no panacea when it comes to reliability. The road to world class pump performance is a long road that
requires much effort, focus, and the cooperation of many. With this in mind, pump operators need to do their part. I will
now provide a few proven steps to reliability success.

Step #1 Identify your critical equipment


The first step in any reliability program is identifying your critical pumps. Here just a few questions you can ask to
determine criticality:
Will this pump shut my process down if it fails, i.e., is it unspared?
Could a major failure result in a major release, fire or explosion?
Will an undetected failure result in a major ($50,000 or more) repair cost?
The bottom line here is determining which pump failures represent significant economic, environmental, or safety risk
upon failure. The pumps representing the highest risk are deemed to be critical, those at the next level are essential,
and those at the lowest level are nonessential pumps. At the completion of this exercise, you should publish the
criticality listing so that everyone at your site can refer to it.
A criticality list allows you to logically dole out scarce operations and maintenance resources based on risk levels. For
example, you may choose to collect vibration data on critical pumps on a weekly basis, on essential pumps on a
monthly basis, and on nonessential machines on a quarterly basis. In other words, your most critical pumps get the most
attention and the least critical get the least.

Step #2 Document start-up and shutdown procedures


I have written a lot about procedures for given start-up conditions and pump types because I believe it is vital this
knowledge be ingrained into your organizations. This type of knowledge needs to be institutionalized through the use of
written procedures and hands-on training. These procedures need to be as detailed as possible for the different start-up
scenarios so that there is no hesitation or confusion when they are used.

Step #3 Develop a condition monitoring program


Condition monitoring methods are useful because they allow you to detect pump deterioration in its early or primary
state. Some examples of condition monitoring are:

Vibration monitoringTypically a magnetic mounted accelerometer is placed near each bearing. Maladies, such
as pump imbalance, misalignment, bearing failures, can be detected by analyzing vibration spectra. Vibration data
is usually collected and analyzed on a monthly or quarterly basis. Trending of these vibration amplitudes is a
powerful means of detecting upward trends before secondary pump damage can occur due to deteriorating
conditions.
Oil condition analysisFor smaller pumps with small, non-circulating oil systems, oil analysis is strictly visual,
that is checking oil levels and oil color.
Pump performance testingThis involves collecting pump pressure, flow, and power data to determine pumping
efficiency. This is usually only performed annually or semi-annually on larger horsepower units.
Bearing temperature monitoringThis should be done daily by hand or with an infrared temperature gun.
Seal pot monitoring (for pumps with multiple seals)Seal pot pressures and level should be checked daily.
Table 12.1 shows an example condition monitoring matrix for a single stage overhung centrifugal pump.
Table 12.1 Sample condition monitoring matrix for a single stage
overhung centrifugal pump

A few words about vibration

Vibration is the dynamic movement of a machine due to internal and external dynamic forces acting upon it,
such as those due to imbalance, misalignment, cavitation, etc. Vibration waveforms or signals have at least
two key components: 1) amplitude and 2) frequency. Amplitude is a measure of severity, while frequency is a
measure of how quickly the vibration amplitude is changing. Frequency is used to determine the most likely
source of the vibration. For example: If the predominant vibrational frequency coincides with the pump
running speed, the pump is probably the source of the problem.
Bearing housing vibration is the most commonly collected form of vibration information. The idea here is that
rotor forces will be transmitted to the bearings and then onto the bearing housing. In practice, this has been
proven to be an effective means of assessing most centrifugal pump mechanical condition.
The most popular vibration sensor is the magnetically mounted accelerometer, due to its versatility. They can
sense vibrational frequencies from 0 to over 1000 hertz and handle vibration ranges from 0 to 2 (or more)
inches per second. Vibration levels on most healthy pumps run in the 0 to 0.2 inches per second (rms, i.e.,
root mean squared) range. Levels above 0.20 inches per second (rms) should be analyzed and levels above
0.4 inches per second (rms) should be considered excessive.

Knocking your socks off!


A few years ago, I was called in to determine the cause of excessive vibration levels on a 3600 rpm fan. Over
the weekend, vibration levels had exceeded 1.0 inches per second, which is considered above the danger
level by most machinery specialists. After determining the source of the problem was imbalance, we decided
to attempt field balance in order to quickly get the fan back into production.
While we were waiting to get the fan ready for balancing, the Operations Supervisor related a humorous story
to me. She told me that one of the operators told her he could always tell when the fan was vibrating
excessively: His socks would fall down whenever he was walking near the fan! In all the time I have been
analyzing machinery vibration data, Ive never heard of anyone using their socks as a vibration sensor.
By the way, we were able to get this fan quickly balanced and back online. This serves as another example
of how vibration analysis can be used to assist in the resolution of machinery problem by identifying the
nature of a malady.

Step #4 Develop a sound preventative maintenance program


Activities that are more economical to perform on a calendar basis are called preventative maintenance tasks. Two
centrifugal pump examples of this type of task are greasing and oil change-outs. A greasing list with frequencies and
quantities should be compiled for each processing unit. Strict adherence is important so that bearings are not overgreased. Similarly, a listing of oil lubricated bearings housing with recommended change-out intervals should be
compiled for those application where periodic oil replacement makes sense.

Step #5 Develop a pump switching program


A hotly debated operational activity is periodic switching between main and spare pumps. Some argue that pump
switching leads to failure; while others believe it is necessary to increase the lives of both main and spare pumps. My
take on this issue is that pump switching is required to maximize unit reliability for several reasons. The first is that
pump switches exercise both pumps equally, thereby allowing both pumps to live full and natural lives. Second is that
periodically exercising pumps will allow you to find defects in the primary state while it is operating, i.e., you can not
collect vibration data on a pump that is not running. And finally, switching pumps on a regular basis will give operating
personnel confidence in starting and shutting down pumps. In other words, practice breeds confidence.
Here are four headaches you should expect if you dont swap your pumps:
A. False brinnelingWhen bearings are lubricated, a protective film covers the surface of the races and rotating
elements. While the bearings are in use, at whatever speed, the lubricant film is constantly replenished. But when
the rotation ceases, the weight of rotors, shafts and other equipment rests on the bearings, and the lubricant is
eventually squeezed out until metal-to-metal contact occurs between the rolling elements and the races.
Subsequent vibration will cause a dry hit on a particular point or line of a bearings surfaces. Just like a tiny
hammer hitting steel, the surfaces (particularly on the races) are prone to denting. This is proved through
microscopic analysis. When the bearings go back to work, the surfaces are now flawed. The bearings begin to heat
up with each fall of a roller or steel ball in those microscopic grooves or slots, until the friction increases to the point
of failure.
B.
Idle o-rings taking a set and agingMost of these pumps have mechanical seals that incorporate
elastomeric as secondary sealing members that, when idle for an extended period, have a tendency to take a set,
harden, or friction weld to the shaft. When started, these degraded seals can fail and excessive seal leakage will
result. The two examples below in Figure 12.1 clearly show how o-rings can deform and take permanent sets. If orings take a set in the static or non-rotating position, they will probably fail in the dynamic or rotating position.

Figure 12.3Examples of o-rings taking a set


C. Bearing housings continuously breathingNormal ambient temperature fluctuations from night to day, will
cause the bearing housing to breathe. This results to the gradual ingestion of water vapor into the bearing housing.
With time, this will lead to sufficient accumulation of water in the oil to cause bearing failure.
D. Inability to acquire vibration dataThis may not seem like a major problem; but, if your vibration program is
part of your mechanical integrity program, the lack of vibration data on your spare pumps can be considered a
safety violation. If you havent acquired vibration data on your spare in over 6 months, you have no idea of the
condition of pump when needed.
The way to avoid these problems is to regularly swap your pumps. Pump swapping monthly is ideal, while pump
swapping quarterly should be considered the minimum frequency. Here is an example of how to swap pumps:
Definitions:

Spare is the idle pump to be placed in service


Main is the pump that is in operation.

1. With the main still running, start-up the spare pump following your normal start-up procedure.
2. Once you are satisfied the spare pump is healthy, shut down the main pump.
3. Ensure that the check valve on the pump you just shut down is holding. (A leaking or stuck check valve will lead
to a loss of flow and possible pump damage due to reverse rotation.)
a. If not, completely close the down pumps discharge valve.
b. If the check valve is holding, then keep the discharge valve on the down pump partially closed (25%) so that its ready for the
next start-up.

4. Keep the down pumps seal flush flowing. Adjust flow as required.
5. Check the down pumps seal pot level to ensure its at the normal level before walking away.

Step #6 Develop and Maintain a Bad Actor List


Keep a list of your top five to ten bad actors, that is, pumps that have failed most often in the previous twelve months.
These pumps represent your low hanging fruit. As you work through your list, you will begin to see significant
improvements in your site-wide pump MTBR metric.

Step #7 Conduct RCAs


Another powerful tool available for improving the reliability of your pumps is called the root cause analysis (RCA) or root
cause failure analysis (RCFA). (Chapter 11 provides an introduction into this topic.) There are numerous RCA methods
on the market, such as Tap Root, cause maps, fault trees, the five why methods, etc. All these methods have the same
goal, drilling down to the root cause or causes of a given failure mechanism.
These methods become even more powerful when employed by interdisciplinary teams. These teams, for example,
may utilize an operator, a process engineer, a machinery engineer, and a mechanic. I have personally participated on a
number of these teams and have found them to be an efficient way to analyze the more complex or costly problems.
Your management should set failure or even cost criteria to determine when multidisciplinary RCAs shall be performed.
When asked to participate in an RCA:
Always keep an open mind.
Remember that the RCAs should be data driven and not agenda driven.
Remember that finding the true root cause will make your job a little easier.

Step #8 Develop and trend reliability statistics


I have talked about the importance of the mean time between repairs (MTBR) metric. This and other key reliability
metrics you deem to be meaningful are worthless unless they trended and reviewed periodically. Sit down with your
supervision and maintenance folks a few times a year to talk about these metrics to determine if progress is being
made.

Step #9 Keep management informed of your progress


You need to find ways to get your reliability metrics and success stories in front of our managers on a regular basis.
Periodic meetings, e-mails, and/or newsletters are all effective ways of getting your success stories out to your
supervision and the rest of the organization. Remember that your management team wants you to succeed. The future
progress of your pump reliability program depends in their continued supportand they cannot support what they are
not kept informed of.

Step #10 Get a reliability sponsor


A reliability sponsor can be a powerful ally when it comes to getting your success stories widespread exposure and

soliciting resources. Your sites reliability manager, maintenance manager, or companys reliability director are all good
potential sponsors for your reliability programs. They all usually have both a vested interest in reliability and the ear of
upper management. If you are not aware of an appointed reliability sponsor for your work area, urge your supervisor to
suggest one be selected. This person would be responsible for setting up a reliability team and then tracking and
reporting their results to the site management and beyond. A focused and empowered team can be an unstoppable
agent of positive change.
Never underestimate the power of a team with common vision and purpose!

Appendix A
Illustrated Glossary of
Centrifugal Pump Terms1
Glossary of Terms: A
Accelerometer: A commonly used vibration sensor used to sense casing and piping movements.

Figure A.1, Accelerometer cross-section


Adapter: Connects and aligns the power end of an ANSI pump to the wet end.
Amplitude (vibration): This is the magnitude of vibration signal, usually expressed in units of peak to peak, zero to
peak, or root mean squared (rms).
ANSI Standard: American National Standards Institute. A set of specifications (envelope dimensions) for centrifugal
pumps manufactured in the United States.
API gland: A seal gland that incorporates a nonsparking disaster bushing, along with a vent and drain connection
(quench), and a flushing connection.
API Specifications: American Petroleum Institute Specifications. Usually adopted by oil refineries for petroleum
applications. Includes seal gland and piping recommendations.
Absolute pressure: Atmospheric pressure added to gauge pressure.
Affinity laws: They estimate how capacity, head, and horsepower are affected by changes in the centrifugal pump
impeller diameter or shaft speed.
Air ingestion: Air is coming into the stuffing box because of a negative suction pressure.
Alignment: The centerline of the pump is perfectly aligned with the centerline of the driver (usually an electric motor).
Ambient heat/pressure: The heat or pressure in the area where the equipment is located.
Annealing: To soften the metal by heating it to a predetermined temperature somewhere below its melting point.
Anodize: A treatment used on aluminum to put a heavy stable film of oxide on the metal surface.
Anti-friction bearing: Usually referring to a ball or roller bearing

Figure A.2, Anti-friction bearing


Application: A description of the fluid and operating conditions that we are trying to pump or seal.
Atmospheric pressure: At sea level, atmospheric pressure is 14.7 psi.
Auto-ignition temperature: A temperature to which, under ideal conditions, a substance has to be heated to initiate

self-sustained combustion, independent of an ignition source.


Axially split casing: A pump casing where the split is parallel to the shaft. This is also called a horizontally split casing.

Figure A.3, Axially split pump

Glossary of Terms: B
Back plate: Used in some centrifugal pumps to position the stuffing box and provide an impeller wear surface.
Back pull out pump: A design that allows the wet end of the pump to be left on the piping when the power end and
adapter are removed. ANSI pumps are designed this way.

Figure A.4, Back pull-out pump


Back to back double seal: A seal arrangement where the rotating seal faces are facing in opposite directions. In the
past, this term was used to describe a higher barrier fluid pressure between dual mechanical seals.
Balance holes: Holes drilled near the impellers eye to balance axial thrust loads.

Figure A.5, Impeller with balance holes


Balanced seal: A design where the seal face closing area is reduced to lower the closing force and reduce the heat
generation between the faces.
Balance Ratio: A 70/30 balance ratio means that 70% of the seal face closing area is seeing the stuffing box pressure
and 30% is not seeing the pressure.
Ball bearing: Consists of an inner race, an outer race, and a series of balls between them. Also called a precision or
anti friction bearing.
Bar: Metric term for one atmosphere of pressure.
Barrier fluid: A non-process fluid that is circulated between two mechanical seals that provides lubrication and cooling.
The barrier fluid must be maintained at higher pressure than the process to prevent process fluid from leaking out.
Base plate: A rigid, usually metal, structure with multiple machined pads used to support and locate the pump and its
driver. The ideal base plate facilitates alignment and minimizes vibration due to its rigidity and damping properties.

Figure A.6, Centrifugal Pump on API baseplate


Bathtub Curve: A reliability curve showing the three stages (infant, constant, and wearout) of machines life.

Figure A.7, Bathtub Curve


Bearing: Supports the rotating shaft and allows it to turn with a minimum amount of friction. Sleeve or anti-friction
bearing designs are the most common types.
Bellows: Can be manufactured from metal or nonmetallic materials to eliminate flexing, rolling or sliding elastomers in
mechanical seal designs.
Bernoullis law: The total energy in moving stream of liquid or gas remains constant assuming there are no or minimal
frication losses. This means that as the velocity of the fluid stream increases, the pressure decreases; and conversely
as the velocity of the fluid stream decreases, the pressure increases.
BEP: The best efficiency point. It is the point where the power coming out of the pump (water horse power) is the
closest to the power coming into the pump (brake horse power) from the driver. This is also the point where radial
forces, vibration, and pressure pulsations are usually at their lowest levels.
Between bearings pump: Any pump where impellers are located between its two radial bearings (one inboard and
one outboard). This pump type typically requires two seals.
BHP: Brake horsepower. The actual amount of horsepower being consumed by the pump as measured on a pony
brake or dynamometer.
Brinnell hardness: A method of measuring the hardness of metal parts and hard seal faces. Above 350 the standard
machining operations of turning, boring, drilling, and tapping become uneconomical.
Buffer fluid: The low pressure fluid that is circulated between dual mechanical seals.
Buna N: Some times called Nitrile. A common elastomer used in the sealing of oil or water. Sensitive to Ozone attack
and therefore has a short shelf life.
Bushing: A close fitting support device used to restrict fluid flow between two liquids, thermally isolate a hot liquid,
support the rotating shaft, break down pressure, etc. Can be made of carbon, Graphalloy, Teflon, etc.
Bypass line: Used to either re-circulate fluid from the pump discharge to the stuffing box, the stuffing box to the pump
suction, or the pump discharge to a lower pressure point in the system.

Glossary of Terms: C
C frame adapter: Used to connect and align the pump to the motor with registered fits. (The C frame adapter
designation applies when using imperial dimensions, while the D frame adapter designation applies when using metric
dimensions.)
Canned pump: A sealless pump with the shaft, bearings and rotor contained in a can to prevent product leakage.

Limited to pumping clean lubricating liquids.

Figure A.8, Typical canned motor pump


Capacity: Fluid flow measured in gpm, liters/min, M3/hr, etc.
Carbide: The compound formed when carbon combines with an element. The carbides of metal are very hard and are
often used as a mechanical seal face.
Carbon bushing: Used as a restrictive bushing in flushing applications, a thermal barrier in high temperature
applications, a disaster bushing in an API gland, and to support a deflecting shaft in many mechanical seal
applications.
Carbon/graphite: A common mechanical seal face material chemically inert to most fluids with the exception of
oxidizers, bleaches, halogens, and a few other fluids.
Carcinogen: A cancer producing substance.
Cartridge seal: A self-contained assembly containing the seal, gland, sleeve, and both stationary and rotating seal
faces. Usually needs no installation measurement. Must be used if impeller adjustments are made. Cartridge seals are
the standard for API seal applications.
Cavitation: Cavities or bubbles that form in the fluid low-pressure area and collapse in a higher-pressure area of the
pump causing noise, damage, and a loss of capacity.
Centerline design: The pump is suspended on feet attached to the sides of the volute instead of the bottom. Used in
higher temperature (> 100C) pumping applications.

Figure A.9, Typical centerline mounted pump


Centipoise: The metric system unit of viscosity.
Centistoke: The kinematic unit of viscosity. Viscosity in centipoises divided by the liquid density at the same
temperature, gives kinematic viscosity in centistokes.
Centrifugal pump: Moves liquid with centrifugal force. Available in circular and volute configurations.
Centrifugal separator: Sometimes called a cyclone separator. Uses centrifugal force to throw solids out of the fluid.
Does not work very well in slurry seal applications.
Ceramic: A hard, chemically inert seal face material that includes products referred to as silicone carbide.
Change of state: When a liquid flashes into a vapor, solidifies, crystallizes, cokes, etc.
Chemraz: An elastomer-like material manufactured by Green Tweed of England. Used to seal most solvents and
other aggressive fluids.

Chloride stress corrosion: Occurs in the 300 series of stainless steel. Caused by a combination of tensile stress,
chlorides, and heat. No one knows the threshold values.
Chrome carbide: Forms when chrome forms with carbon in the heat affected zone during the welding of stainless steel.
The use of low carbon stainless steel is recommended in these applications.
Chrome Oxide: The passivated layer that forms on the 300 series of stainless steel.
Circular casing: Used with centrifugal pumps that circulates fluid rather than build head or pressure.
Close coupled: The pump impeller is mounted directly on the motor shaft. There is no separate bearing case.

Figure A.10, Close coupled pump


Closed impeller: Any shrouded impeller.
Coated Face: A hard coating is plated or welded to a softer base material. Presents problems with different thermal
expansion rates; the hard coating can heat check or crack. Not recommended as a seal face material.
Coke: A hard, black substance that forms when petroleum products are over heated. It interferes with seal movement
and will open the lapped faces.
Composite: When used in the content of mechanical seal faces, it refers to either a nonmetallic material or a
combination of nonmetallic face inserted into a metal holder.
Compression set: The elastomer changes shape when it has been exposed to too much heat. Round O-rings come
out square.
Concentric dual seal: One seal is located inside the other, with a common hard face shared by both of them. Because
of its large radial space requirement, the seal is usually limited to mixer type applications.
Concentricity: When the parts with different diameters share the same center line they are concentric to each other.
Condensate: Condensed steam.
Contamination (oil): Oil degradation due to the unwanted addition of water, dirt, pumpage, coolant, etc.
Convection: A natural circulation of fluid. The hot fluid (lighter) rises and the cool fluid (heavier) sinks.
Convolution: Two metal bellows plates welded or formed together. To count the number of convolutions in a metal
bellows, you count the spaces between the bellows plates.
Cooling jacket: Surrounds the stuffing box of the pump to control the temperature of the fluid in the stuffing box. Usually
molded into the back plate.
Cooling water plan: Any cooling water piping arrangement thats either in series or parallel aimed to improving pump
reliability.
Corrosion resistant: Corrodes at a rate of less than 0.002 inches (0.05 mm) per year.
Coupling: Used to connect the pump to the driver. It transmits torque and compensates for axial growth, and some
radial misalignment.
Critical speed: Any object made of an elastic material has a natural period of vibration. When a pump rotor or shaft
rotates at a speed corresponding to its natural frequency, minor unbalances will be magnified. These speeds are called
the critical speeds.
Cryogenic: Very cold temperatures.
Cutwater: Directs the pumped liquid to the discharge piping.
Cyclone separator: A device used in some seal applications to separate solids from liquid by utilizing centrifugal force.

Not very reliable.

Glossary of Terms: D
D frame adapter: Used to connect and align the pump and motor (manufactured in metric dimensions). The Imperial
version is called a C frame adapter.
DIN standard: The German standard for industrial products.
Damping: The physical touching of a component to arrest vibration. (Also, this is physical characteristic of oil and solids
that absorbs vibrational energy.)
Dead ending: Isolating the stuffing box, with no recirculation or flushing lines in or out.
Deflection: Movement or displacement of the shaft in a radial direction due to hydraulic loading.
Density: Measured in gm/cm2 or lb/in 2. A measure of the weight of the fluid. A better term than specific gravity.
Dial indicator: A tool used to measure concentricity or displacement of a shaft.

Figure A.11, Dial indicator


Diffuser: A stationary component in centrifugal pumps where high exit impeller velocities are converted into pressure.
Dilatant: A liquid that thickens (increases its viscosity) with agitation.
Disaster bushing: Used in API glands to support the shaft in the event of a bearing failure, or to prevent product from
rushing to atmosphere after a seal failure. The close clearance (0.025 inches or 0.5 mm) directs most of the leakage
through a drain connection in the seal gland to an appropriate container.
Discharge recirculation: (1. Flush) Connecting a line from the discharge side of the pump to the stuffing box. Should
be used with a close fitting bushing in the end of the stuffing box to increase the stuffing box pressure. Commonly
employed when pumping a fluid close to its vapor point. (2. Internal to pump) Discharge recirculation occurs when
high pressure flow streams re-enter the impeller on the low pressure side of the impeller vane. This is caused by the
pump operating back on its curve or with an inlet restriction.
DN factor: The DN number is the OD of the bearing (in mm) multiplied by the rpm value. Do not use precision bearings
if the bearing bore (millimeters) x rpm is 300,000 or greater.
Double balanced seal: Hydraulically balanced in both directions. A desirable feature, but seldom provided by seal
manufacturers.
Double seal: An out dated term describing two seals in a pump. The latest terminology is dual seals. In the past the
term was used to describe a higher pressure barrier fluid between dual seals.
Double suction pump: The rotor is suspended between two bearings with the fluid entering on either side of the
impeller. Used for higher flow applications.
Double volute: A centrifugal pump design that incorporates two cut waters to prevent shaft deflection when the pump is
operating off of the BEP. This lowers the efficiency of the pump and therefore is seldom used on smaller size impellers.
Drive lugs: These lugs or pins transmit the torque from the set screws to the seal face.
Dry running: Running without fluid at the seal face.
Dual Seal: Two seals running in various configurations: back to back, tandem, face to face, or concentric.
Ductility: The property of a metal that lets you give it a great deal of mechanical deformation without cracking.

Dynamic elastomer: The rubber part that has to move or flex to compensate for seal face wear or shaft movement.
Dynamic head (system head): The pump head created by friction in the piping system.

Glossary of Terms: E
Effective diameter: In metal bellows terminology it is the calculated diameter where the pressure penetrates between
the metal plates. This number is used to determine the hydraulic balance diameter of the seal face.
Efficiency: Power out of the equipment divided by input power.
Elastic range: The range of motion where a stressed part retains its memory and returns to its original shape.
Elastomer: A rubberlike material that, when compressed and then released, will return to 90% of its original shape in
less than five seconds.
Electrolysis: A process involving chemical change caused by the passage of an electric current through a liquid.
End suction pump: Any overhung pump where the suction flow directly enters the suction impellers eye.
Endurance limit: Beyond this point the metal will fatigue without increasing the stress.
EPA: Environmental Protection Agency. A government agency with a mandate to protect the environment.
EPR: Ethylene propylene rubber. The most common elastomer used in the sealing of water based and higher pH
materials. Cannot be used in petroleum products.
Extrusion: Permanent deformation of a portion of the O-ring into a gap, under the action of fluid pressure.
Eye of the impeller: The center of the impeller, where the fluid enters.

Glossary of Terms: F
Face combination: The materials chosen for a set of lapped seal faces. Usually comprised of a carbon graphite face
running against a hard face material, such as tungsten carbide or silicon carbide.
Face to face seals: Two seals running against a common seal face. The barrier fluid pressure is always lower than
stuffing box pressure.
Face flatness: Measured by an optical flat and a monochromatic light. The measurement is read in helium light bands
(0.0000116 inches or 0.3 microns).
Face lubrication: The fluid or vapor that sometimes exists between lapped mechanical seal faces.
Face pressure: The sum of all the loads on the seal face including the spring load, hydraulic load and shaft axial thrust,
divided by the area of the seal face. This face load is reduced by friction between the sliding elastomer and the shaft or
sleeve.
Filled carbon: Contains organic or inorganic materials that might be sensitive to temperature, or be attacked by the fluid
you are sealing. Usually a low cost carbon.
Filter: A device used to remove solid particles from liquid. It removes smaller particles than a strainer.
Finite element analysis: A computer-based analysis commonly used for designing mechanical seals, pump casings,
flanges, etc.
Flashing: A rapid change in liquid state from a liquid to a gas.
Flash Point: The lowest temperature where the application of an ignition sources caused the vapors of a liquid to ignite
under specified test conditions.
Flatness: Measured by Helium light bands (0.0000116 inches or 0.3 microns) as opposed to surface finish that is
measured by RMS or CLA.
Flexibility factor: Also called L/D ratio (Same as L3/D 4 for overhung applications and L4/D 2 for between bearing
applications). Used to predict shaft bending problems.
Flexible member: The portion of the seal containing the springs or bellows.
Flexible shaft: A shaft with an operating speed higher than its first critical speed
Fluid: A material that assumes the shape of its container. It could be either a liquid or a gas.
Flurocarbon: Genetic term for the elastomer called Viton. Viton is a Dupont Dow elastomer product.
Flush: Directing an external liquid into the stuffing box of the pump at a pressure higher than stuffing box pressure. All
of this liquid mixes with and dilutes the pumped fluid.
Foot: Supports the wet and power end of the pump and attaches it to the base plate.

Force: Created whenever pressure works on an area. The units are pounds. (F = P x A)
Formed metal bellows: Manufactured by stretching and compressing the metal bellows material. Not usually used in
mechanical seals because of its high spring rate.
FPM (fpm.): Feet per minute. When used in the context of seals it is measured at the center of the seal face.
Francis vane impeller: The most popular impeller shape with a specific speed between 1500 and 4000.
Frequency (vibration): The number of times per second that the vibration signal is fluctuating. Usually denoted in
Hertz (cycles per second).
Free length: The uncompressed axial length of a seal.
Frett or fretting: 1) Damage or grooving caused by the removal of the protective oxide formed on most corrosion
resistant metals. It happens when a softer material (rubber) rubs against a hard shaft or sleeve. A common problem with
low cost OEM mechanical seals and bearing grease or lip seals. 2) Corrosion damage at the asperities of contact
surfaces. This damage is induced under load and in the presence of repeated relative surface motion, as induced for
example by vibration.

Figure A.12, Example of fretting damage


Fugitive emission: The government has designated certain chemicals as hazardous to the environment. If any of these
chemicals are released to the atmosphere, they are called fugitive emissions.

Glossary of Terms: G
Gs (vibration): A vibration measurement of acceleration. One g equals 32.3 ft/sec/sec.
Galvanic series: A list of metals with those on the top of the list being attacked by those lower down in the list. The
farther apart on the list, the faster the attack.
Gasket: Used between two static surfaces to provide a seal. Made from a variety of deformable materials.
Gland: The part that holds one half of the mechanical seal and attaches to the stuffing box.
Governor: A mechanical, hydraulic, electrical, pneumatic, or combinations system employed by most steam turbines to
control their speed.

Figure A.13, A mechanical-hydraulic speed droop governors


used on small steam turbines
Grease: A solid to semi-fluid mixture of a thickening agent in a liquid lubrication.
Grease seal: A spring loaded elastomer seal commonly used to seal bearings. Sometimes called a lip seal. Not a
good choice for sealing the bearing casing of a pump. A labyrinth or face seal would be a better choice.

Glossary of Terms: H
Hard face: A seal face either rotating or stationary. The most common materials are silicone carbide, ceramic, tungsten
carbide, Stellite, Ni-resist. The hard face must be the wider seal face.
Harmonic vibration: Vibrating in harmony with something near by. This can be a big problem for bearings in stationary
or nonrunning equipment.
Hastelloy C: A nickel rich, corrosion resistant metal used for mechanical seal springs and metal bellows because it is
not sensitive to chloride stress corrosion.
Head: The equivalent height of the liquid. 20C water is used as the standard where 10 meters (33.9 ft) of water equals
one atmosphere (14.7 psi or 1 bar). The term head is used instead of pressure in the centrifugal pump business.
Helium Light Band: A method of measuring seal face flatness. One helium light band equals 0.0000116 inches or 0.3
microns. Seal faces are normally lapped to within three helium light bands of flatness.
Horizontally split casing: See axially split casing.
Horsepower: 33,000 foot-pounds per minute. A common method of measuring work.
Hydraulic balance: A method of reducing mechanical seal face loading by reducing the seal face closing area.
Hydraulic force: Occurs any time pressure acts on a seal face area. Force times distance divided by time is a
measurement of work done.
Hydrocarbon: A petroleum product consisting of hydrogen and carbon.
Hydrodynamic force: Generated at the seal faces because, for all practical purposes, liquid is not compressible.
Hydrodynamic seal: Special geometric features on the seal face that provide lift by taking advantage of the rotation of
one seal face upon the other.
Hydrogen embrittlement: A premature fatigue of metal caused by the presence of free hydrogen. This is a major cause
of ceramic breakage in hot water seal applications, and bearing fatigue if moisture penetrates into the bearing case.
Hydrostatic seal: Maintains a controlled gap between the seal faces by balancing the open and closing forces. There
is a small amount of leakage across the faces when the shaft is rotating. Used in some compressor applications, but not
very practical for the chemicals found in the process industry.
Hysteresis: The delay or lag that causes seal faces to open.

Glossary of Terms: I
ID: Inside diameter.
ISO: International Standards Organization. Sets pump and seal standards for the metric community.
Impeller: Attaches to the end of a rotating shaft to impart energy to the fluid being pumped. Available in open, semiopen, and closed designs.

Figure A.14, Impeller types


Impeller eye: The center of the impeller or the point where fluid enters the impeller.
Impeller setting: Open impellers require a clearance between the volute and the pump back plate depending upon
design. This clearance must be set when the pump is at operating temperature and must be reset to compensate for
wear (0.015 inches to 0.020 inches or 0.04 mm to 0.05 mm is typical).
Impeller shroud: The plates located on one or both sides of the impeller vanes. Prevents solids from penetrating
behind the vanes.
Impeller vane: Located between the eye and the discharge side of the impeller. Directs the flow of the liquid to the
outside diameter of the impeller.
Implode: The opposite of explode. Bubbles implode in the higher pressure areas of the pump making noise and
causing damage to the metal parts. This is normally called cavitation.
Inches per second (vibration): A measurement of velocity vibration measurement often denoted as ips.
Inclusion: A nonmetallic slug of material, which has become entangled in the metal during its manufacture. A severe
problem in thin cross section metal bellows manufacturing.
Inducer: A small axial flow vane that attaches to the impeller of a centrifugal pump to increase the NPSH available.

Figure A.15, Impeller inducers


Induction motor: The most common type used in industry. Has a slippage of 2 to 5 percent compared to synchronous
motors.
Infant mortality: An early or rapid pump failure usually due to flawed components or an incorrect repair procedure.
Inline pump: Mounted in the piping. No base plate or alignment required.

Figure A.16, Inline pump


Internal recirculation: A loss of efficiency caused by liquid flowing through wear rings or the impeller to volute
clearances.
Intergranular corrosion: A corrosion of the grain boundaries in the body of the material.

Glossary of Terms: J
Jacket: Usually refers to the heating or cooling jacket surrounding the stuffing box on some pumps.
Journal Bearings: A tight-fitting, babbitted bearing used in critical pumps and motors.

Glossary of Terms: K
Kalrez : An elastomer like material manufactured by E.I. Dupont that is used to seal most solvents and other
aggressive fluids. It is available in several different grades.
Kilowatt: One thousand watts. The normal unit for work in the metric system
kPa : A metric unit for pressure. 100 kPa = one atmosphere

Glossary of Terms: L
L3/D 4: A guide for determining overhung pump shaft stiffness where the length of the shaft is compared to its diameter.
This number should be below 60 in imperial units and 2.0 in metric units.
Labyrinth seal: A noncontacting seal utilizing a tortured path for the escape of the fluid. Utilizes a series of pressure
drops to reduce the leakage.

Figure A.17, Labyrinth seal


Lantern Ring: A device used to supply lubricant to packing. Usually located in the middle of the packing ring set.
Linear pressure drop: A straight line pressure drop across the lapped seal faces. Seldom happens.
Line bearings: Used to position the rotor or shaft radially. Normally of the sleeve type.
Line bored: When the drilling or boring is done in a fixture to insure that all bores are on a common straight line.
Lip Seal: An elastomeric, spring loaded seal normally used to prevent the egress of contaminates into bearing
housings. Also see grease seal.

Figure A.18, Typical lip seal


Line Shaft: A long vertical turbine pump shaft that is normally supported by one or more line shaft bearings.
Low flow: 1) A condition that can cause excessive heat inside the pump volute. A temperature rise of 10C (18F)
across the operating pump is considered excessive. Usually caused by throttling a pump discharge valve. 2) Also used
to define a low flow condition where prolonged operation will result in rapid failure due to unfavorable hydraulics.
Lubricant: Any fluid that will maintain a film thickness of one micron or more at its operating temperature and load.

Glossary of Terms: M
Mach number: 1) The relationship between a moving body and the speed of sound in that locality which can vary with
temperature, altitude, and pressure. 2) The ratio of fluid speed to the local speed of sound.
Magnetic drive: A type of sealless pump where the pump rotor is magnetically coupled to the motor.

Figure A.19, Typical magnetic drive pump


Magnetic seal: Uses magnetic materials rather than springs to keep the lapped seal faces together. Limited to
noncorrosive fluids because of the magnets.
Mating ring: Another name for the hard face in a mechanical seal. It can be either rotating or stationary.
Mean Diameter: The middle diameter. Usually refers to the center of the seal face. The term is commonly used with
metal bellows seals to describe the middle diameter of the bellows plate.
Mechanical seal: A positive sealing device used to seal all fluids (liquids and gases). The primary seal is a set of
lapped seal faces that are installed perpendicular to the shaft.

Figure A.20, Single mechanical seal


Metal bellows: Used in mechanical seal designs to eliminate the need for a dynamic elastomer.
Metal fatigue: A breakage of the metal caused by the bending and flexing of a metal part beyond its endurance limit.
Micron (measurement): A common machinery measurement of clearances, runouts, etc. One micron is equal to one
millionth of a meter or 0.000001 meter.
Micro Organisms: Used in a variety of chemical processes. Can cause corrosion of stainless steel if they penetrate the
passivated layer and attack the carbon content of the stainless steel.
Mineral oil: Any of various light hydrocarbon oils, especially a distillate of petroleum.
Mils (measurement): A common machinery measurement of clearances, runouts, etc. One mil is equal to 0.001 inch.
Mils (vibration): A measurement of vibration displacement or movement, usually measured from a waveforms
minimum value to maximum value, i.e., peak to peak. One mil is equal to 0.001 inch.
Minimum flow: 1) A condition that can cause excessive heat inside the pump volute. A temperature rise of 10C (18F)
across the operating pump is considered excessive. Normally caused by throttling a pump discharge valve. 2) Also
used to define any low flow condition where prolonged operation will result in rapid failure due to unfavorable
hydraulics.
Miscible: When one liquid mixes or blend with another liquid. Same as soluble.
Modulus of elasticity: Refers to the stiffness of the material. The higher the modulus, the stiffer the shaft. Also called
Youngs modulus. The relationship of stress to strain. If seal faces have a high modulus, they are less likely to distort
under pressure.
Moment of inertia: Referring to rotation about an axis. In the pump business, it refers to a formula that describes the

shape of the shaft. A solid shaft would have a different moment of inertia than a hollow shaft.
Monochromatic light: A single color light used with an optical flat to read seal face flatness.
MTBR: Mean time between repairs for a population of pumps.
Multistage pump: Any pump with more than one impeller, arranged in series, inside a single casing.

Figure A.21, Cross section of a multistage pump

Glossary of Terms: N
Negative pressure: Less than atmospheric pressure.
NPSHA: The net positive suction head available to prevent cavitation of the pump. It is defined as: Atmospheric
pressure + gauge pressure + static pressurevapor pressurefriction loss in the suction piping.
NPSHR: Net positive suction head required to stop a pump from cavitating. This number is given to you by the pump
manufacturer. Since the number was generated by testing with cold fresh water, it can be lowered in some cases if you
are pumping hot water or some hydrocarbons.
Newtonian fluid: A fluid that does not change viscosity as it is agitated.
Nonlubricant: The fluid that will not maintain a film thickness of at least one micron at its operating temperature and
load. A concern with mechanical sealing.

Glossary of Terms: O
OD: Outside diameter.
OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer. The pump or seal company, not the distributor of the products.
Oil analysis: A sensible preventative maintenance technique to check the oil for solids, water, etc.
Oil life: Lubricating oil has a useful life of about thirty years at thirty degrees centigrade if it is not contaminated.
Oil mist: A lubrication mixture of oil particles 1.0 to 3.0 microns in diameter suspended in a current of air, consisting of 1
part oil to 200,000 parts air. This mixture is not a volatile organic compound (VOC); therefore, there is no risk of
explosion or combustion. There are two main oil mist applications, pure mist for lubrication and purge mist for
preservation. (Source: Oil Mist Institute website)
Open impeller: An unshrouded impeller (see entry for impeller).
Operating length: Measured after the seal has been compressed the proper amount. The measurement is usually
made from the face of the stuffing box.
Optical flat: A high quality glass lapped flat on one side and used with a monochromatic light to read seal face flatness.
O-ring groove: The space into which an O-ring is inserted. Dynamic O-ring grooves use a different dimension than
static O-ring grooves.
OSHA: Occupational and Safety Health Act. Government regulation that affects the sealing business. OSHA 1910 is
one of the more important that impacts the training of seal mechanics and operators.
Overhung impeller: Not supported with bearings on either side of the impeller.
Overspeed Trip System: A speed control system employed by steam and gas turbines to prevent machine damage at
high speeds. In the event the speed governor fails to control the speed, the overspeed trip actuates to shut down the
machine. This system is totally independent of the governor
Oxidation: A high temperature, chemical reaction that leads to increasing oil viscosity (becomes thicker) and oil
darkening.
Oxidizer: Combines with carbon to form carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide. The oxidizers attack all forms of carbon
including the seal face and any black O-rings in the system.

Glossary of Terms: P
PD Pump: Positive displacement pump. It can pump a high pressure or head, but at a low volume.
PV Factor: An attempt to correlate the relationship between the pressure and the velocity at the mechanical seal faces.
Unfortunately carbon graphite is sensitive to P, but not to V, so the correlation does not work too well.
Packing: The soft rings that mechanical seal replace to stop leakage. Packing must leak because it works on the theory
of a series of pressure drops to reduce the stuffing box pressure to the point where the leakage is acceptable. A
minimum of five rings of packing is required to do this.
Parallel operation: The pumps are discharging to a common header. It is important that the impeller speed and outside
diameters be the same or one of the pumps will throttle the other.
Pascal: A metric unit for pressure. 100 kPa = one atmosphere.
pH: A measure of the acidity or the alkalinity of a fluid. The scale ranges from 0 (acid) to 14 (alkali) with 7 considered
neutral.
Pipe strain: The strain on the pump volute caused by the piping. It will cause excessive mechanical seal movement
and can cause contact between rotating and stationary pump and seal components.
Plastic range: If you stress metal enough, it stretches beyond its elastic range and yield point and ends up in the plastic
range where its memory is lost.
Positive displacement pump: Called a PD pump. Gear, sliding vane, progressive cavity, lobe, etc., the capacity
determined by the pump speed. The maximum head is determined by the horsepower available and the casing
strength.
Power end: The end of the pump that attaches to the power source and does not get wet from the pumpage. The
bearings are in this part.
Power factor: A measure of how the voltage leads or lags the amperage.
Precision bearing: Ball or roller bearing as opposed to a sleeve or babbitt bearing.
Pressure drop: Referring to the loss of pressure from the outside to the inside of the mechanical seal faces or across
the individual rings of packing.
Press fit: The best way to insert a carbon/graphite face into a metal holder. The carbon will shear to conform to the
holders irregular shape. Usually done with an arbor press.
Pressure gradient: The pressure drop between the seal faces. Usually illustrated by a wedge.
Pressure head: The pump head exerted by atmospheric pressure or any additional pressure that might be in the
vessel.
Pressure pulsation: Dynamic pressure caused by unsteady pump flows, cavitation, or vane pass problems.
Priming: The act of removing all the air or vapor in a pumps suction piping by either venting or evacuation with a
vacuum.
Proximity Probe: A vibration sensor used in critical pumps to measure internal shaft movement at or near the bearings.

Figure A.22, Proximity probe for vibration measurements


Pump curve: A diagram supplied by the pump manufacture to describe the relationship between the head and the
capacity for a particular pump at various size impellers. The curve also includes information about efficiency, horse
power consumption, NPSH required, etc.

Figure A.23, Typical set of pump curves


Pump out vane: Located behind the impeller shroud in some impeller designs to lower stuffing box pressure. Should
no be used in hot well condensate pumps or any pump running with a negative stuffing box pressure.
Pumping ring: Used with a convection system to get circulation between two mechanical seals. Absolutely necessary
if oil is used as a barrier fluid because of oils poor specific heat.

Figure A.24, Pumping ring for mechanical seal


Pusher seal: A design that has a spring loaded dynamic elastomer or rubber like part. A very poor design that should
be avoided.

Glossary of Terms: Q
Quench: The introduction of a fluid outside the seal to cool the product, or dilute any leakage across the seal faces.
Quill shaft: A hollow shaft with another shaft inside it.

Glossary of Terms: R
Radial: 90 degrees from the centerline of the shaft.
Radial bearing: In an end suction centrifugal pump it is the bearing located closest to the stuffing box. This bearing
handles most of the impellers radial loads.
Radially split casing: When the casing split is in a vertical plane, perpendicular to the rotation axis. This is also called
a vertically split casing
Reliability growth: A reliability plot used to determine whether pump reliability is improving or deteriorating.
Renkin scale: Used to measure low temperatures in the Fahrenheit scale. Similar to Kelvin, which is used to measure
low temperatures in the Centigrade system.
Repeller: A second impeller used to lower the stuffing box pressure.
Resonance: A condition when a shaking force frequency matches the natural frequency of a mechanical structure. This
combination can cause destructive shaking forces.
Reverse balance: A common type of hydraulic balance used on outside mounted mechanical seals.
Rigid shaft: A shaft with a rotating speed lower than its first critical speed.
RMS: Root mean square. A measure of surface finish or smoothness. Metric uses CLA or centerline average for the
same purpose.
Rockwell C: The scale most often used to measure hardness of the hard seal face.
Rotating seal: When the spring loaded or moveable portion of the seal rotates with the shaft.
Run out: Twice the distance that the center of the shaft is displaced from the axis of rotation.

Glossary of Terms: S
Seal faces: The lapped faces that provide the primary sealing in a mechanical seal.
Sealless Pump: Any pump without packing or a mechanical seal that falls into the category of a magnetic drive pump
or a canned motor pump. (see mag drive and canned motor pump entries.)
Seal life: Seals should run leak free until the sacrificial face (usually carbon/graphite) is worn away. More than 85% of
the mechanical seals in use today fail prematurely.
Seal flush plan: Any auxiliary arrangements designed to improve seal reliability.

Figure A.25, Seal flush plan


Seal Pot: Used to contain fluid between two mechanical seals. An enclosed heater or cooler can be used to control the
barrier or buffer fluid temperature. Pressure or level gauges can indicate which seal has failed.
Self align: A method of keeping both mechanical seal faces square to the rotating shaft.
Series operation: The pumps are connected with the discharge of the first pump discharging to the suction of the other.
The speed and impeller widths must be the same or the difference in capacities could cause cavitation or over heating
problems.
Shaft packing: The soft packing supplied by pump manufacturers. Most of these leaking packings are being replaced
by mechanical seals.
Shelf life: Usually refers to the seal elastomer. Buna N is the biggest problem because of Ozone attack.
Shore A: A scale used to measure elastomer hardness.
Shut off head: The maximum head that the pump can generate with a given impeller outside diameter and horsepower
driver.
SiC: Silicone carbide. A common mechanical seal face material. A type of ceramic.
Sintered material: Formed from a powder as opposed to being melted and poured into a mold.
Sleeve bearing: A nonprecision bearing. Usually manufactured from carbon, Teflon, brass, etc. A disadvantage of this
type of bearing is that they allow too much axial and radial movement for most mechanical seal applications.
Slenderness ratio: Another name for the flexibility factor or L/D ratio.
Slip stick: An alternating slipping and sticking of the seal faces caused by a poor lubricant between the faces. Will
cause vibration problems at the seal face unless the vibration is dampened.
Slurry: Solids in liquid. It is impossible to define when the quantity and size of the particles becomes too much for the
mechanical seal.
Soft foot: The tendency for a pump foot to rise when its hold down bolt is loosened. Very bad for alignment.
Soluble: When one liquid dissolves or mixes with another liquid.
Span: The width of the metal bellows. The distance from the inside diameter to the outside diameter.
Specific Gravity: A measure of the weight of a liquid. Fresh water at 4C (39F) is given a value of one. If the liquid
you are questioning will float on water the specific gravity is less than one. If it sinks, it is higher than one. Density is a
better term.
Specific heat: Refers to the amount of calories or BTUs required to raise a quantity of a liquid one degree.
Specific speed: A formula that describes the shape of a pump impeller. The higher the specific speed the less N.P.S.H.
required.
Spectrum (vibration): A graphical display of a vibration signal showing detailed frequency content. Often used to

determine the primary source(s) of the vibration.

Figure A.26, Typical vibration spectrum


Speed of sound: In air it is 1090 feet per second, in water it is 4800 feet per second.
Spillback: Any piping path from the pumps discharge back to its suction vessel or some other upstream location.
Spool piece: Usually refers to a seal and bearing combination that is supplied for some mixer applications. It depends
upon the application, but this is not a good idea if there are already two anti-friction bearings already installed on the
shaft
Spring force: The force on the seal faces caused by the spring compression.
Stainless steel: Alloy steels containing a high percentage of chromium.
Static head: The maximum height the liquid is being pumped as long as you take into consideration the siphon affect in
some piping systems.
Stationary seal: The spring loaded or moveable portion of the seal does not rotate with the shaft. Must be used when
the seal surface speed exceeds 5000 fpm or 25 meters per second.
Steam turbine: A mechanical device that extracts thermal energy from pressurized steam and converts it into useful
mechanical work. The high pressure supply steam enters the inlet turbine nozzle and the low pressure steam exits the
exhaust turbine nozzle. Impulse and reaction designs are the two major steam turbine types.

Figure A.27, Steam turbine rotor


Stiffness ratio: Another name for L3/D 4.
Strain: A measure of the amount of deformation produced in a substance when it is stressed.
Stress: A measure of the intensity of the load applied to a material. Stress is expressed as the load divided by the
cross-sectional area over which it is applied.
Stress relieve: To take residual stress out of an object. This is very important with lapped seal faces; especially those
that have been inserted into a metal holder.
Stuffing box: That portion of the pump that held the packing and now holds the mechanical seal.
Stuffing box pressure: Between suction and discharge pressure but closer to suction pressure.
Suction head: The head on the suction side of the pump. You subtract it from the discharge head to determine the
head being produced by the pump. It is a sum of the static, pressure and friction heads.

Suction recirculation: 1) (Flush) Piping from the bottom of the stuffing box back to the suction side of the pump. Used
to lower pressure and circulate liquid in the stuffing box. 2) (Internal to pump) Internal recirculation at low flows that
occurs at or near the impellers suction eye.
Suction specific speed: A formula that will predict one of the types of cavitation. Pumps should be purchased with a
number below 8500 (10,000 metric).
Submergence: Submergence is the distance that a vertical pumps suction bell is located below the fluid level. It is vital
that the recommended minimum submergence be maintained or exceeded to prevent air entrainment into the first stage
impeller.

Figure A.28, Vertical pump submergence


Surface speed: A measure of the feet per minute the seal face or some other component is moving.
Synchronous motor: Runs with out slippage. Used in elevators and compressors frequently, but seldom used in
pumping. Pumps mostly use induction or squirrel cage motors.
Synthetic oil: Synthetic oil is oil consisting of chemical compounds which were not originally present in crude oil
(petroleum), but were artificially made from other compounds.
System curve: A description of what the pump is required to perform. The pump will pump where the system curve
intersects the pump curve.
System head: The head caused by friction in the piping valves and fittings.

Glossary of Terms: T
Tandem seals: The seals are facing in the same direction with a low pressure barrier fluid circulating between them.
T.D.H.: Total discharge head. A combination of the suction head and the head being produced by the pump.
Tensile strength: The strength measured when the part is being pulled axially.
Thermal conductivity: A measure of the materials ability to conduct heat. This is a very important factor in the
selection of mechanical seal faces.
Thermal imaging: A troubleshooting analysis tool that will let you see hot spots in the equipment.
Thermoplastic: A plastic material that can be softened or melted repeatedly without change of properties. Injection
molded parts are manufactured with Thermo-plastic materials.
Thermosetting: A plastic material that can be softened and molded, but cannot be re-used or reverted to its original
state.
Thixotrophic fluid: The viscosity of the fluid decreases with agitation. Nondrip paint is an example of such a fluid.
Thrust bearing: Locates the rotor or shaft axially. Normally located close to the coupling.
Torr: One millimeter of mercury. Used in both the imperial and metric systems a unit of measurement in vacuum
service.
Total head: The amount of head produced by the pump. Discharge head minus suction head. If suction head is a
negative number it is added to the discharge head.
Throttle bushing: A restriction bushing found at the bottom of a stuffing used to limit seal flush flow into the process.
Thrust: In a centrifugal pump it refers to the axial movement of the shaft. The thrust can be towards the wet or power
end of the pump and at start up it thrusts in both directions.

Thrust bearing: Designed to take the axial thrust in pump applications. It is usually located next to the coupling and is
often supplied in a double row configuration.
Transducer: Attached to the pump and used to send a vibration signal to a meter where it can be read.
Tungsten carbide: A common hard face seal material available in several grades depending upon hardness and
corrosion resistance. Cobalt and nickel are the two most common types.
Turbulence: Disturbed fluid. Can cause cavitation problems in a centrifugal pump. Often caused by an elbow located
too close to the pump suction inlet.
Two way balance: A method of balancing a mechanical seal in two directions. A very important consideration in dual
seal applications.

Glossary of Terms: U
Unbalanced seal: Not hydraulically balanced to generate low heat at the seal faces. Typical of original equipment
designs.
Unfilled carbon: Containing carbon/graphite and nothing else. Filled carbons contain inorganics that will be sensitive
to some chemicals and temperature extremes. Unfilled carbons are the preferred seal faces.
USCS: United States Customary System. All dimensions are in inch units.

Glossary of Terms: V
Variable speed motor: Used to control flow in a system by varying the frequency of the motor. Recommended for
circulating systems and any other system where the main head is friction losses in the piping system.
VDMA: A German standard for mechanical seals.
Vacuum: Any pressure less than atmospheric. Can present a problem for the elastomer in many seal applications.
Vane passing vibration: Any vibration characterized by a frequency at running speed time the number of impeller
vanes. May be caused by the impeller/cutwater clearance being too small.
Vapor pressure: Below this pressure, the liquid at this temperature will vaporize.
Vaporize: The fluid passes from a liquid to a gaseous state. If this happens at the seal faces the seal faces will be
blown open.
Velocity: A measurement of the speed of the liquid in the system. Measured in feet or meters per second. The pump is
a constant velocity device.
Velocity (vibration): A measurement of machine vibration usually made in either inches per second (ips) or millimeters
per second (mmps).
Velocity head: Part of the total head calculation. Derived from the formula h = V2/2g.
Vent: To remove air or gas from the system. It is important to vent the stuffing box in vertical pumps to prevent the seal
faces from running dry.
Vertically split casing: See radially split shaft.
Vibration Damping: Important in metal bellows seal designs. The elastomer acts as a vibration damper in the other
seals. The vibration can chip carbon faces, destroy anti-rotation drive lugs, and open the lapped seal faces.
Viscosity: Resistance to pouring. Higher viscosities can restrict seal movement. Centrifugal pumps can handle a
maximum viscosity similar to 30 weight oil at room temperature. Above this viscosity a positive displacement pump
should be used.
Viscosity correction: Converting pump data based on water to expected performance data for fluids significantly more
viscous than water.
Viton: An E.I. Dupont Dow manufactured elastomer widely used in the sealing industry. The generic name is
fluorocarbon. Many of these compounds are attacked by water and steam.
Volute casing: Derives is name from a spiral shaped casing surrounding the pump impeller. It converts velocity energy
to pressure energy.
Vortex Pump: A type of pump used for excessive solids. The impeller is recessed into the volute. A very low efficiency
design, but practical in many applications.
Vortexing liquid: Creating a whirlpool affect that can draw air into the suction of the pump.

Glossary of Terms: W

Warm-up: A critical step in the start-up sequence of rotating machinery, normally operating at high temperatures
(>200F), that involves filling the casing with warm or hot fluid to allow internal clearance grow to normal values.
Incorporating this step can greatly reduce early failures due to internal rubbing.
Water Horsepower (WHP): The calculated fluid horsepower coming out of the pump using the formula WHP = head x
gpm/3960.
Watt: A measure of power. 746 watts equals one horsepower.
Wave spring: A disc washer used when axial space is at a premium. Does not allow very much axial travel of the seal.
Wearout (also known as end of useful life): The point where a pump has worn, due to normal operating stresses, to
the point where it is no longer serviceable.
Wear ring: Used with closed impeller pumps to restrict leakage from the high pressure side of the pump to the low
pressure side. Should be replaced when the recommended clearance is doubled.

Figure A.29, Impeller with eye and rear wear rings removed
Welded metal bellows: A seal design used to eliminate the use of elastomers. Excellent for cryogenic and hot
applications. Not as effective for hot petroleum applications because of coking problems.
Wet end: The part of the pump that gets wet from the pumping fluid. Includes the volute, stuffing box, impeller wear
rings, and shaft or sleeve

Glossary of Terms: X-Z


Yield point: Where a stressed metal passes from its elastic to its plastic range.
1. The Illustrated Glossary of Centrifugal Pump Terms is based partly on the Pump Manufactures Glossary of
Pump Terms.

Appendix B
Glossary of Electric Motor Terms2
AC Motor: A motor operating on AC current that flows in either direction (AC current). There are two general types:
induction and synchronous.
Antifriction Bearing: An anti-friction bearing is a bearing utilizing rolling elements between the stationary and rotating
assemblies.
Base Speed, rpm: The speed in revolutions per minute (rpm), which a DC motor develops at rated armature and field
voltage with rated load applied.
Bearings: Components that reduce friction and wear while supporting rotating elements. When used in a motor, they
must provide a relatively rigid support for the output shaft. There are various types such as roller, ball, sleeve (journal)
and needle.
Bearing life: Rating life, L10 (B10), is the life in hours or revolutions in which 90% of the bearings selected will obtain or
exceed. Median life (average life), L50 (B50), is the life in hours or revolutions in which 50% of the bearings selected
will obtain or exceed.
Breakdown Torque: The maximum torque a motor will develop at rated voltage without a relatively abrupt drop or loss
in speed.
C frame adapter: Used to connect and align the pump to the motor with registered fits. (Imperial dimensions: Called the
D frame adapter in the metric system.)
Conductor: A material such as copper or aluminum which offers low resistance or opposition to the flow of electric
current.
Conduit Box: The metal container usually on the side of the motor where the stator (winding) leads are attached to
leads going to the power supply.
Constant Horsepower: A designation for variable speed motors used for loads requiring the same amount of
horsepower regardless of their motor speed during a normal operation.
Constant Torque: Refers to loads with horsepower requirements that change linearly at different speeds. Horsepower
varies with the speed, i.e., 2/1 HP at 1800/900 rpm (seen on some two-speed motors). Applications include conveyors,
some crushers and constant-displacement pumps.
Current: This time rate of flow of electrical charge and is measured in amps (amperes).
Cycles per second (Hertz): One complete reverse of flow of alternating current per rate of time. (A measure of
frequency.) 60 Hz (cycles per second) AC power is common throughout the US and 50 Hz is common in many foreign
countries.
DC (direct current): A current that flows only in one direction in an electric circuit. It may be continuous or
discontinuous and it may be constant or varying.
DC motor: A motor using either generated or rectified DC power. A DC motor is often used when variable-speed
operation is required.
Dual voltage: Some motors can operate on two different voltages, depending upon how it is built and connected. The
voltages are either multiples of two or the square root of three of one another.
Motor efficiency: The efficiency of a motor is the ratio of electrical input to mechanical output. It represents the
effectiveness with which the motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy.
Explosion proof enclosure: A totally enclosed enclosure, which is constructed to withstand an explosion of a
specified gas, vapor, or dust which, may occur within it. Should such an explosion occur, the enclosure would prevent
the ignition or explosion of the gas or vapor, which may surround the motor enclosure. These motors are listed with
Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Explosion-proof hazardous locations:
DIVISION ILocations in which ignitable concentrations of flammable or combustible material exist and come in
contact with the motor.
DIVISION IILocations in which ignitable concentrations of flammable or combustible material exist but are contained
within closed systems or containers and normally would not come in contact with the motor.
Explosion-proof-UL classifications:
CLASS IThose in which flammable gasses or vapors are or may be present in the air in quantities sufficient to product

explosive or ignitable mixtures.


Group CAtmospheres containing ethyl or ether vapors.
Group DAtmospheres containing gasoline, hexane, benzene, butane, propane, alcohol, acetone, benzol, lacquer
solvent vapors, natural gas, etc.
CLASS IIThose which are hazardous because of the presence of combustible dust.
Group EAtmospheres containing metal dust, including aluminum, magnesium, or their commercial alloys.
Group FAtmospheres containing carbon black, charcoal, coal, or coke dust.
Group GAtmospheres containing flour, starch, grain or combustible plastics or chemical dusts.
Frequency: The rate at which alternating current makes a complete cycle of reversals. It is expressed in cycles per
second. In the U.S., 60 cycles (Hz) is the standard while in other countries 50 Hz (cycles) is common. The frequency of
the AC current will affect the speed of a motor.
Full-load current: The current flowing through the line when the motor is operating at full-load torque and full-load
speed with rated frequency and voltage applied to the motor terminals.
Full-load torque: That torque of a motor necessary to produce its rated horsepower at full-load speed, sometimes
referred to as running torque.
Hermetic motor: A motor which is sealed within the refrigerant atmosphere inside a chiller and therefore, isolated from
the atmosphere outside the chiller. A hermetic motor is efficiently cooled by liquid refrigerant sprayed directly on the
motor windings, and is smaller and lighter than a comparable air-cooled motor. A pump driven by a hermetic motor has
the advantage that the compressor shaft does not have to pass through a seal between the outside atmosphere and the
refrigerant atmosphere inside the chiller.
Hertz: One cycle per second (as in 60 Hz that is 60 cycles per second).
Horsepower: The measure of rate of work. One horsepower is equivalent to lifting 33,000 pounds to a height of one
foot in one minute. The horsepower of a motor is expressed as a function of torque and speed. For motors the following
approximate formula may be used:
HP = (T x rpm)/5250, where HP = horsepower, T = torque (in. lb. ft.), and RPM = revolutions per minute.
Induction motor: An induction motor is an alternating current motor in which the primary winding on one member
(usually the stator) is connected to the power source and a secondary winding or a squirrel-cage secondary winding on
the other member (usually the rotor) carries the induced current. There is no physical electrical connection to the
secondary winding, its current is induced.
In-rush current: When started with full line voltage, AC motors draw line currents substantially greater than their full
load running current rating. The actual magnitude of this current is called inrush current. It is a function of the motor
horsepower and design characteristics. It is also called Locked Rotor Current.
Insulator: A material which tends to resist the flow of electric current (paper, glass, etc.). In a motor the insulation serves
two basic functions:
1. Separates the various electrical components from one another
2. It protects itself and the electrical components from attack of contaminants and other destructive forces.
Jackscrew: A device used for leveling the positioning of a motor. These devices are adjustable screws that fit on the
base or motor frame. Also a device for removing end shields from a motor assembly.
Kilowatt (kW): Since the watt is a relatively small unit power, the kilowatt(kW) 1000 wattsis used where larger units
of power measurement are desirable.
Load: The burden imposed on a motor by the driven machine, usually expressed as required torque at a given speed or
power.
Lubrication: Oil, oil mist, or grease used to reduce wear and avoid overheating of motor bearings. Excess lubrication
can however damage the windings and internal switches, etc.
Meggar test: A measure of an insulation systems resistance. This is usually measured in megohms and tested by
passing a high voltage at low current through the motor windings and measuring the resistance of the various insulation
systems.
Motor control center (MCC): Electrical equipment specifically designed to house motor controllers such as motors
starters, soft starters, and variable frequency drives.

Motor surface temperatures: The temperature of the motors external surface, which is usually much lower than the
internal temperature of the motor. However, depending upon the design & cooling arrangements in the motor the
surface temp in modern motors can be high enough to be very uncomfortable to the touch. Normal surface temperatures
of 75 to 95C can be found on T frame motor designs.
Multi-speed motors: A motor wound in such a way that varying connections at the starter can change the speed to a
predetermined speed. The most common multi-speed motor is a two-speed although threeand four-speeds are
sometimes available. Multi-speed motors can be wound with two sets of windings or one winding. They are also
available with constant torque, variable torque or constant horsepower.
Nameplate: The plate on the outside of the motor describing the motor horsepower, voltage, speed efficiency, design,
enclosure, etc.
NEC temperature code (T code): A National Electrical Code index for describing maximum allowable skin
(surface) temperature of a motor under any normal or abnormal operating conditions. The T codes are applicable to
UL listed explosion-proof motors. The skin temperature shall not exceed the minimum ignition temperature of the
substances to be found in the hazardous location. The T code designations apply to motors and other types of
electrical equipment subject to hazardous location classification.
Open bearing: A ball bearing that does not have a shield, seal, or guard on either of the two sides of the bearing
casing.
Power distribution bldg. (PDB): Building which houses electrical gear such as switch gear, load center, and MCCs.
Power factor: A measurement of the time phase difference between the voltage and current in an AC circuit. It is
represented by the cosine of the angle of this phase difference. For an angle of 0 degrees, the power factor is 100% and
the volt/amperes of the circuit are equal to the watts (this is the ideal and an unrealistic situation). Power factor is the
ration of Real Power-KW to total KVA or the ratio of actual power (watts) to apparent power (volt amperes).
Protective relay: The principal function of a relay is to protect service from interruption, or to prevent or limit damage to
apparatus.
Pull-in torque: The maximum constant torque, which a synchronous motor will accelerate into synchronism at, rated
voltage and frequency.
Pull-up torque: The minimum torque developed by an AC motor during the period of acceleration from zero to the
speed at which breakdown occurs. For motors, which do not have a definite breakdown torque, the pull-up torque is the
minimum torque developed during the process of achieving rated speed.
RPM (revolutions per minute): The number of times per minute the shaft of the motor (machine) rotates. This is a
function of design and the power supply.
RTD (Resistance Thermal Detectors):
Winding RTDA resistance device used to measure temperature change in the motor windings to detect a possible
over heating condition. These detectors are embedded into the winding slot and their resistance varies with
temperature.
Bearing RTDA probe used to measure bearing temperature to detect an overheating condition. The RTDs resistance
varies with the temperature of the bearings.
Service factor (SF)
1. A number usually found on a motor nameplate that indicates how much above the nameplate rating a motor can
be loaded without causing serious degradation (i.e., a 1.15 SF can produce 15% greater torque than the 1.0 SF
rating of the same motor).
2. When used in applying motors or gearmotors, a figure of merit, which is used to adjust, measured loads in an
attempt to compensate for conditions that are difficult to measure or define. Typically, measured loads are
multiplied by service factors (experience factors) and the result in an equivalent required torque rating of a motor
or gearmotor.
Short-circuit: A defect in a winding, which causes part of the normal electrical circuit to be bypassed. This frequently
results in reducing the resistance or impedance to such an extent as to cause overheating of the winding and
subsequent burnout.
Sleeve bearings: A type of bearing with no rolling elements, where the motor shaft rides on a film of oil, also called
hydrodynamic bearings
Soft start: Any electric motor starting hardware or system, such as a Star Delta configuration, aimed at reducing current

in-rush and therefore the voltage applied during start-up.


Space Heater: Small resistance heater units mounted in a motor that are energized during motor shutdown to prevent
condensation of moisture in the motor windings.
Switch Gear: Electrical power distribution equipment, which allows switching power on/off or directing the source of
power from more than one supply.
Synchronous motor: A motor which operates at a constant speed up to full load. The rotor speed is equal to the speed
of the rotating magnetic field of the statorthere is no slip.
Synchronous speed: The speed of the rotating magnetic field set up by the stator winding of an induction motor. In a
synchronous motor, the rotor locks into step with the rotating magnetic field and the motor is said to run at synchronous
speed. This is approximately the speed of the motor with no load on it.
Synchronous speed can be calculated with the following equation: Synchronous RPM (revolutions per minute) = 120 x
Frequency (Hz)/Number of motor poles.
Thermal protector (inherent): An inherent overheating protective device that is responsive to motor temperature and
when properly applied to a motor, protects the motor against dangerous overheating due to overload or failure to start.
This protection is available with either manual or automatic reset.
ThermistorThermally Sensitive Resistor: A semiconductor used to measure temperature that can be attached to an
alarm or meter to detect motor overheating.
ThermocoupleThermal Detection Device: Temperature detecting device made of two dissimilar metals which
generates a voltage as a function of temperature. Thermocouples can be attached to a meter or alarm to detect
overheating of motor windings or bearings.
Thermostat: Units applied directly to the motors windings that sense winding temperature and may automatically
break the circuit in an overheating situation.
Three phase power and single phase power: Three phase power is typically 150% more efficient than single phase
in the same power range. In a single phase unit, the power falls to zero three times during each cycle, while in three
phase systems it never drops to zero. The power delivered to the load is the same at any instant.
Torque: Turning or twisting force delivered by a motor or gearmotor shaft, usually expressed in foot-pound (ft-lbs).
Totally-enclosed fan-cooled enclosure (TEFC): Provides for exterior cooling by means of a fan(s) integral with the
machine, but external to the enclosed parts.
Thrust bearings: Special bearings used to handle higher than normal axial forces exerted on the shaft of the motors,
usually transmitted by the driven equipment.
Variable torque: A multi-speed motor used on loads with torque requirements, which vary with speed as with some
centrifugal pumps and blowers. The horsepower varies as the square of the speed.
Vertical motor: A motor being mounted vertically (shaft up or down) as in many pump applications.
Voltage: The force that causes a current to flow in an electrical circuit. Analogous to pressure in hydraulics, voltage is
often referred to as electrical pressure. The voltage of a motor is usually determined by the supply to which it is
attached. NEMA requires that motor be able to carry its rated horsepower at nameplate voltage plus or minus 10%
although not necessarily at the rated temperature rise.
Voltage drop: Loss encountered across circuit impedance from power source to applicable point (motor) caused by the
resistance in conductor. Voltage drop across a resistor takes the form of heat released into the air at the point of
resistance.
2. The Glossary of Electric Motor Terms if based partly on Baldors Glossary of Motor Terms

Appendix C
Basic Centrifugal Pumps Formulas
Here are a few centrifugal pump formulas you may find useful. Note that all these calculations as well as unit
conversions may be made quickly online by visiting www.pumpcalcs.com.
1a. Converting pressure to head:

1b. Converting head to pressure:

1c. In. Hg to head:

2. Converting fluid velocity to velocity head:

, where V in ft/sec and g=32.2 ft/sec2


3. Peripheral velocity of an impeller:

, where V is in ft/sec and D is in inches


4. Converting velocity to flow:
, where Q is in gpm, V is in ft/sec, D is in inches
5. Converting velocity to flow:

, see units above


6. Brake horsepower:

7. Pump efficiency:

Vibration:
Note: The following equations only apply to vibration signals composed of a single or discrete frequency.
14. Displacement in mils to velocity in pk:
, where D is in mils pk-pk, CPM is cycles per minute, and V is in in/sec (pk)
15. Displacement in mils to velocity in in/sec rms:
, where D is in mils pk-pk, CPM is cycles per minute, and V is in in/sec (rms)
16. Velocity in in/sec pk to displacement in mils pk=pk
, D is in mils pk-pk, V is in pk
17. Velocity in in/sec pk to acceleration in gs

, where A is in gs pk, V is in pk
18. Acceleration in gs to velocity in pk
, where A is in gs pk
19. Acceleration in gs to velocity in rms
, where A is in gs pk and V is in in/sec rms
20. Acceleration in gs to displacement in mils pk-pk:

, where A is in gs pk
21. Displacement in mils pk-pk to acceleration in gs:

22. Torque and power:


a.

b.

c.

d.

23. Electric Motors:


a. Synchronous speed:

, where f is frequency in hertz and p is the number of poles


b. % Slip:
, where N is rpm and s is slip rpm

24. Reliability:
a. MTBR (mean time between repairs) in years:

, N is the total number in the population, T is the time period in years, and R is the number of
repairs in the time period.
b. MTBR in months:

, N is the total number in the population, T is the time period in months, and R is the number
of repairs in the time period.

ENDNOTES:
Mechanical seals in chemical facilities, installed in ANSI pumps, can be expected to have average lives that is
approximately 50 to 60 percent of refinery values.
*

Table of Contents
OPERATORS GUIDE TO CENTRIFUGAL PUMPS
Copyright 2008 by Robert X. Perez.
Contents
Dedication
Preface
Acknowledgements
Chapter 1
The Operators Mission
Chapter 2
Centrifugal Pump Primer, Part I
Chapter 2 Bonus
Bernoullis Principle Explained
Chapter 3
Centrifugal Pump Primer, Part II
Chapter 4
Centrifugal Pump Primer, Part III
Chapter 5
How to Protect Your Mechanical Seals
Chapter 6
Motors 101 for Operators
Chapter 7
Pump Lubrication in a Nutshell
Chapter 8
10 Ways to Protect Your Pumps
Chapter 8 Bonus
Pump Design and Installation Problems Operators Should Look Out For
Chapter 9
How to Start-up a Centrifugal Pump, Part I
Chapter 10
How to Start-up a Centrifugal Pump, Part II
Chapter 11
Introduction to Field Troubleshooting
Chapter 12
The Road to Reliable Pumps
Appendix A
Illustrated Glossary of Centrifugal Pump Terms1
Appendix B
Glossary of Electric Motor Terms2
Appendix C
Basic Centrifugal Pumps Formulas