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08/11/2017 6ReasonsWhyMechanicalSealsFail

Author:VernFrahm|December16,2014|Category:Mechanical
Seals
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Youmightbe
askingyourself,
whyaremyseals
failingsofast,and
howcanIprevent
thisfrom
happening?This
topicringstrue
amongoperators
andengineersin
plantsofallsizesandindustries.Oftentimes,amechanical
sealisa"barometer"forthepump,helpingmaintenance
andoperatorstounderstandthehealthofthepumpon
whichit'sinstalled.Othertimes,failureisaresultofpoor
selectionorinstallationerrors.Hereare6ofthemost
commonreasonsmechanicalsealscanfail.

1.ALLOWINGTHEPUMPTORUNDRY

Allowingyourpumptorundrycanbeverydamagingtoa
mechanicalseal.Undertherightconditions,mechanicalseals
canexperiencethermalshockandshatterwithin30secondsor
less.

2.VIBRATION

Pumpvibrationiscausedbypumpimbalance,improper
alignment,operatingthepumptoofartotherightorleftofthe
BEP(BestEfficiencyPoint)ontheperformancecurve,etc.
Vibrationhurtsyourequipmentandcanresultindamagedseals
andshortenedseallife.

3.HAMMERINGCOUPLINGSONTOTHESHAFT

Whenitcomestopumps,hammersarenotfriends!Mechanical
sealfacescanbeveryfragile.Poundingcouplingsontotheshaft
willdamagethemechanicalseal.

4.OPERATORERROR

Skippinginitialstartupproceduresandinstallationerrorsarea
bigfactorwhenitcomestomechanicalsealfailure.Improperly
startingthepumpcancausethemotortotripandtheshaftto
twistcausingorbitalmovement,resultingininternalparts
contact,sealfailure,andshortenedbearinglife.Improperly
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08/11/2017 6ReasonsWhyMechanicalSealsFail

installingthemechanical
sealwillcausedamageto
elastomers(oringsor
boots),alongwithawide
varietyofotherissues,as
picturedtotheright.
Mechanicalsealscanbe
verysensitivebecausethe
facesareincrediblyflat.
Evenasmallamountof
dirtoroil,even
fingerprints,cancausethefacesnottoalign.

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Engineering?
CLICKHERETOSUBSCRIBETOOUR
BLOG!

5.IMPROPERUSEOF,ORCOMPLETELYOMITTING
MECHANICALSEALFLUSHPLANS

It'scriticalthatamechanical
sealflushplanisproperlyin
place.Nomechanicalseal
recommendationiscomplete
withoutacoordinatingflush
plan.BeAware:ifnoflushplan
exists,dewateredproductand
contaminatescanbuildup,
causingexcessiveheator
erosionontheseal,resultingin
shortenedseallife.

6.SELECTINGTHEWRONG
MECHANICALSEALORMATERIALS

Lackofknowledgeandinformationaccountsforthemajorityof
mechanicalsealinstallationerrors.Considernormaloperating
conditions,potentialforoffdesignexcursionsandnonprocess
activities,suchascleaning,steaming,acidandcausticflushes.
Thepicturetotherightisanexampleofpoormaterialchoicefor
anabrasiveliquid.

TomBorrino,RegionalEngineerforJohnCrane,
recommendsthatifyoureinterestedinreducingseal
failures,takealookatallphasesofequipmentapplication
howisthesealedequipmentspecified,installationpractices,
allthewayuptooperations.Sealsareveryrepeatable,soif
youcontinueoperatingthesamesealinthesamemanner,
expecttoseethesamerateoffailure.Hefurther

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08/11/2017 6ReasonsWhyMechanicalSealsFail

recommendstothinkaboutthesealintermsofitstotal
lifetimecostsnotsomuchbyitsinitialcost.Starta
reliabilityprogramthatdefinesthecostoffailureandjustify
itbyincreasingthesealsmeantimebetweenfailures.

Looktoyourlocalsealsupplierforhelpwithsealselection,
bestoperatingpractices,andsealflushplan
recommendations.Ifyouhavespecificquestions,askus
aboutit!Wegladlyprovidemechanicalsealassistanceto
businessesinWisconsinandUpperMichigan.

Readmoreaboutthereasonsforpumpandmechanical
sealfailureinoureBook,36WaystoKillYourPump.
Downloadyourcopytoday!

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