Cen tri fu g al Tu to ri al

Centrifugal Pump A centrifugal pump is one of the simplest pieces of equipment. Its purpose is to convert energy of an electric motor or engine into velocity or kinetic energy and then into pressure of a fluid that is being pumped. The energy changes occur into two main parts of the pump, the impeller and the volute. The impeller is the rotating part that converts driver energy into the kinetic energy. The volute is the stationary part that converts the kinetic energy into pressure. Centrifugal Force Liquid enters the pump suction and then the eye of the impeller. When the impeller rotates, it spins the liquid sitting in the cavities between the vanes outward and imparts centrifugal acceleration. As the liquid leaves the eye of the impeller a low pressure area is created at the eye allowing more liquid to enter the pump inlet. Centrifugal Pumps are classified into three general categories: CENTRIFUGAL PUMPS




Radial Flow - a centrifugal pump in which the pressure is developed wholly by centrifugal force. Mixed Flow - a centrifugal pump in which the pressure is developed partly by centrifugal force and partly by the lift of the vanes of the impeller on the liquid. Axial Flow - a centrifugal pump in which the pressure is developed by the propelling or lifting action of the vanes of the impeller on the liquid.

Positi ve Tu to ri al
Positive Displacement Pumps are classified into two general categories and then subdivided into four/five categories each:







SINGLE ROTOR o VANE - The vane(s) may be blades, buckets, rollers or slippers which cooperate with a dam to draw fluid into and out of the pump chamber. o PISTON - Fluid is drawn in and out of the pump chamber by a piston(s) reciprocating within a cylinder(s) and operating port valves. o FLEXIBLE MEMBER - Pumping and sealing depends on the elasticity of a flexible member(s) which may be a tube, vane or a liner. o SINGLE SCREW - Fluid is carried between rotor screw threads as they mesh with internal threads on the stator. o Progressing Cavity - Fluid is carried between a rotor and flexible stator.


MULTIPLE ROTOR o GEAR - Fluid is carried between gear teeth and is expelled by the meshing of the gears which cooperate to provide continuous sealing between the pump inlet and outlet. o LOBE - Fluid is carried between rotor lobes which cooperate to provide continuous sealing between the pump inlet and outlet. o CIRCUMFERENTIAL PISTON - Fluid is carried in spaces between piston surfaces not requiring contacts between rotor surfaces. o MULTIPLE SCREW - Fluid is carried between rotor screw threads as they mesh.

Packi ng G land s

removing the friction heat generated by the rotation of the shaft in the packing set. Later. y The grease provides a lubricant at the shaft / packing interface. The next stage is to adjust the gland to ensure that it leaks. graphite grease. tallow. The cut ends are staggered to prevent leakage through them. The packing volume decreases as the lubricant is lost. charged with the responsibility of advising maintenance engineers I was faced with worn out shaft sleeves on a daily basis. The packing fibers available come lubricated with a variety of greasy materials or the packings are made of inherently lubricated materials such as teflon. the asbestos substitutes. The type of fiber made no difference. Inevitably this causes the leakage rate to increase. Fillers. It appeared to make no sense to have a soft material damage a metal surface so badly as to cause grooves and ridges in what was to become a familiar pattern. grease. and the other materials used serve two functions in packing materials. aramid. Cut to size. As the rate . The leakage rate is controlled by the pressure exerted by the gland plate on the end of the packing set and the leak is allowed to develop along the shaft / packing interface to provide a cooling medium. and wear at the surface of the packing begins. the packing pieces are eased down the shaft to the neck ring. y The material acts as a filler to prevent leakage occurring through the interstices of the packing itself.Know how they work! Soft packing stuffing boxes and pump glands appear so simple and are so common-place that we continue to cope without taking a few moments to understand why they fail or how to improve their performance. the final three pieces of packing tamped in place by the gland plate and the work is done. the metal sleeve became damaged against hemp. and especially asbestos and. the lantern ring is placed in position. later. Now take the packing material and place it in the pump stuffing box. A cycle is beginning which leads to the destruction of the packed gland as an effective leakage control device. often loosely braided materials contain fillers such as the silicone filler in braided teflon packing. cotton. When I first worked as a maintenance technician it did not occur to me to wonder why it was that the metal shaft sleeve wore away at almost the same rate as the fiber packing. The grease in the packing melts slightly and is washed away by the flow of liquid along the shaft. Two further things happen here. teflon. or carbon fiber. and the search for the answer as to why the shaft becomes worn starts here.

The interstices of the packing fill up with debris. The packing set has deformed to reduce the leak path. A passing engineer notices it and takes appropriate action. The deformation is not uniform. This contaminated fluid is then passed. Iron oxides. at pressure. mica. But there is more to come. grit. and many other minute contaminants will exist in all system fluids. As the rest of the packing set is adjusted by the overtightened first two rings the lantern ring is gradually pushed down the shaft. The action of the gland plate is to provide a force directed along the shaft which has to be translated into a radial force to effectively deform the packing. The packing surface is now beginning to be converted from its original state into one consisting of oxides. Cut off from its coolant the gland can now . To improve the life of the stuffing box gland. Combine the over-tightening of the front end of the gland with the oxide impregnated gland packing and we are beginning to re-shape our shaft sleeve. The packing pieces between the neck ring and the lantern ring are squeezed allowing the lantern ring to move further until in extreme cases it is cut off from its fluid supply. is contaminated with various oxides and grit.. the first two rings of packing. Our engineer has adjusted the gland plate and reduced the flow of fluid leaking out of the pump gland. being denser than the pumped fluids.increases more material is lost until the gland is tightened to reduce the leak to a minimum. continually polished by the action of the packing replaces its surface of chrome oxide instantaneously. The shaft sleeve itself may be contributing. contamination from the cooling water has to be avoided. Through loss of lubricant it has lost volume. chromium oxides. aluminum oxides. The fluid passing through the gland. Whatever material is used to seal a stuffing box if it is cooled by fluid contaminated by solids its surface will change producing an effective grinding surface. The build up of oxides on the surface of the packing changes the nature of the gland dramatically. The gland is failing fast. The gland plate is tightened. Stainless steel ss316 or ss304. For a moment the flow of fluid is stemmed and the packing clamps down on the shaft trapping any solids moving through the gland at that moment. prevents the packing from sliding easily. are unable to transmit the axial force evenly down the length of the stuffing box and invariably this results in an over-tightening of this area of the gland in order to effect sufficient pressure throughout the gland. will be centrifuged and concentrated at the outer edge of the volute casing at just the point where the lantern ring tapping is sited. The friction at the outer edge of the stuffing box possibly supplemented by vulcanization of the packing material with the metal surface of the stuffing box. The flow is increasing. The gland packing has been wearing away. and the packing surface is exposed. experiencing the most force. Consequently. directly into the pump gland. pressure is exerted on the packing material to make it deform to reduce the clearance between it and the shaft. These solids. oxide which is taken up into the packing material. providing a cooling stream. In very few cases can an engineer claim that the fluid passing through his pumps is not contaminated by dirt particles.

causing rapid failure. The stuffing box pressure is greater than the suction pressure of the pump. Any dirt particles entrained in the fluid will be flung to the outer limits of the volute casing. Rotating at high speed the impeller acts as a very efficient centrifuge. The pressure within the gland is greater than the pump suction pressure but less than the discharge pressure of the pump and is easily calculated from SP+ (DP-SP)/4 Where SP = Suction pressure DP = Discharge pressure. being supplied with clean fluid. This is a convenient pressure source readily to hand and self contained within the pump unit but consider the action of the pump impeller. But their life is limited because the rings placed into a worn stuffing box need to be deformed to accommodate the increased radial width of the stuffing box. using the volute casing pressure to produce a flow back through the gland to the suction side of the pump.overheat. but less than the volute pressure. The purpose of the lantern ring is to provide a balancing pressure within the packing set and to allow the cooling water to flow evenly around the gland. and the cycle continues until the shaft sleeve is destroyed. As all the particles of dirt are at the periphery of the impeller clean fluid exists at the impeller center. To prevent contamination of the gland is therefore. Leakage will be controlled in the same way as before but the gland. The state of the fluid within the volute casing at the back of the impeller is relatively clean having been centrifuged by the spinning action of the impeller. Often before this occurs a partial repacking of the gland has taken place. leaving the less dense fluid clean until the streams re-unite at the impeller throat on their way out of the pump. Fluid is taken from a tapping in the volute casing and piped directly into the lantern ring. a simple matter of reversing the flow of fluid through the gland. Seal Typ es . will no longer be subject to contamination to the same degree as before and a longer interval between adjustments and replacements of the gland packing can be expected. New packing pieces have been put into the gland replacing the badly worn first three rings. .

A major spill is news because it is dramatic but every day. does it? In this section we take a look at some of the reasons why you should be using seals. It takes a lot of skill to pack a pump properly with soft packing. Conserve scarce commodities and to protect the environment from pollution. For example. The extra power consumption of the gland contributes to the "green-house" gases effect because more power has to be generated at the power plant to drive your pump. Let me re-phrase that . The Environmental Case We all have a responsibility to conserve and protect. Have you thought about what that gland packing is doing to the shaft of your pump? It works as a brake.Mechanical Seals Why use a mechanical seal? After all is said and done. The Economic case and the Environmental case as well as considering some of the seal types available for general use. and it doesn't require any skilled help to achieve this. its easy to stuff a few extra bits of packing into a leaking stuffing box. less fuel is going to be consumed. millions of glands leak chemicals into the environment. gripping the shaft and causing more power to be absorbed in the unit. It all costs .clean water is becoming a scarce commodity. There is lots more to think about but space is limited so let's get on. loss of hard cash from your pocket or that of your company should be! Water is becoming a scarce commodity. boiler feed water has to be at a high standard of cleanliness and chemicals are added to it to ensure that the water quality remains high. so if you can reduce your take-off by reducing the demand by replacing your glands with seals. You can stop those leaks and avoid cleanup costs. fluid sealing technologies. Less fuel less emissions and less overall cost of running your plant. As an experienced engineer you will know that the overall thermal efficiency of the power plant is much less than 35%. The Economic Case If you are not convinced that environmental pollution is your problem. There are two basic cases to be made out for the use of rotary. Make-up water is usually cooler than the water circulating in the system so additional fuel is required to heat the makeup water.

256 Litres / year 315. Leak Chart One drip/second 3 mm stream 6 mm stream 5. The optimum life of a seal is the period between major overhauls of the pump unit. The same applies to pump manufacturers. each with a packing gland? In a word. I reminded him of my promise that the seal would run for 12 months trouble free.360 Litres / year 630. More cost! But you'll look at the pump in the corner dripping away and think that doesn't seem too bad. This I promise! I was asked to select a seal for a water pump working in a quarry. His success criteria was that the seal should run from tear down to tear down (12 months). The whole plant soon became converted to seals because it is possible to show a cost benefit analysis for every application. Packing is cheap. I told him that actually he had gotten an extra week over my promised 12 months! The increased price of the seal was around $400 but the saving in cost through not having to replace the seal several times in a year was over $1. chemicals. It is a simple matter to collect the leakage and note the time it takes to fill one mug. It is often the thought that seals are expensive that prevents the engineer from opting for them. but properly installed a seal will run for many years. A mechanical seal appears expensive to buy when compared with a packing ring. to fit...720 Litres / year One drip a second is the standard rate for a properly adjusted packed gland : it leaks water. to determine the cause of failure and to rectify that fault. Leaks usually get worse so look at the chart and now tell me if a leaking gland is inconsequential! Let's do another sum . The criteria for a failed seal is one in which the running faces are not worn down to their designed minimum. but its running cost is hidden and can be very expensive. However. A seal that fails early by this criteria is in need of investigation. I selected a seal which was ten times more expensive than the one he had been using. or the aid of this web site. Ever wondered why your plant is fitted with a particular pump make. with experience. but in the real everyday world engineers are facing the consequences of short sighted least cost solutions to . Water is paid for on amount used. Ever done the mug test? A coffee mug holds 300cc.how many leaking glands are there in your plant? Not all packed glands hold back water . It was fitted over the Easter Holiday 1982. to buy. In the enlightened 1990's whole life costing is becoming the way to assess a particular project's initial cost. an engineer does not want to spend money on a super seal that will last virtually forever because that will also not prove to be cost effective. When a seal fails it is possible. He calmed down and started remembering. competition. and heat. Each leaking gland is contributing to hard cash overhead expense. The engineer had been plagued with seal failures for many years on this pump. Over a year later actually the week after the Easter holiday 1983 he rang me to say that the seal had failed.500.money. there may be more costly fluids leaking away.

Balancing the cost of the seal installation against the outcome compared with the alternative. In the links section of this site you will find hyper links to some manufacturers. lucky for some of them it was mine and my expertise was part of the deal! But there are many designs of seal and some I would think of as cheap and not so nice could give some of you excellent service. or o-rings and different metals used to cope with the conditions that faces the seal. it made a lot of sense for the engineers concerned. the contact-less gas seals for instance are not covered here. In these sections you will find explanations of seal types and some of the problems associated with them. There is a wide range of materials to choose from. Only one company to deal with. but very much concerns cost. $millions at stake in oil revenues every day. But now you do not have to continue living with these problems if you look at the situation of your plant leakage in a business -like manner. Now go look at the various seal types that are available to you for general use. this is because they fall outside the general seal types I aim to cover. I am not encouraging you to experiment blindly but to think the problem through and choose your materials carefully. Whilst working for one of these majors in Saudi Arabia I found that it was common to find whole refineries using one manufacturers' seal. For details on highly specialized seals of this and other types contact your favored manufacturer for details. gutsy job. We are not going to look at the materials in detail here. The range encompasses small variations in generic materials such as carbon. This web site does not represent any one company manuf acturing seals. Seal I n stall atio n . For that information pop over to seal troubleshooting I have not listed all seal types. So this is not about price.immediate problems. There are good logistical and economic arguments for standardizing on one manufacturer so long as they are major enough to run through all the applications you are likely to need. Long way from home.

They do not wear out. It causes them to flex twice on every revolution of the shaft. Most often something comes along to disturb the smooth running of the pump and you are facing a steady leak which has already destroyed your seal by damaging the seal faces. So. 5. The pump stuffing box is clean On split casing pumps the gasket does not extend into the stuffing box. But there is another case. You have the pump drawing to hand with installation dimensions or the seal manufacturer's drawing. Shaft run out is bad for seals. By the way that's a ROT (Rule of Thumb). The spinning impeller has unequal loading on in causing the shaft to deflect away from the volute throat.Installation Checks Face the facts. The seal that leaks on startup after maintenance. Running mechanical seals is an art form. A seal that lasts a week without lett ing go is generally thought to be OK. 3. Constant deflection causes weakness and can lead to a permanent offset of the shaft leading to shaft run out. The shaft is free of scratches and burrs.All the seal parts are in their protective coatings at this stage. 2. 4. and keyways are filled flush with the shaft surface to prevent seal elastomers from being cut on the keyway edge (a dummy wooden key insert is ideal). BANG failed seal. Pump Checks Shaft Run-out Shafts get bent. A seal that leaks after maintenance has been badly installed. Single stage overhung pumps should be checked near the seal running position but multi stage pumps should be checked at suitable intervals . 1.. let alone give a reasonable running life. You have the correct seal and all the parts needed for the replacement. There is a lot of science in it but either you have the knack or you do not (in which case you need this web site bad). 6. unloved & unused and check the shaft of your pump for any damaging shaft deflections. don't you? Pre-installation checks. I hate having to go o ver a job again after having fitted it all back together. look into the dark recesses of your lockers and pull out the Dial Test Indicator (DTI) or Clock Gauge that lurks there. threads are taped. seals fail.. It is very unwise to ignore the basic checks listed here because without these checks there is no certainty that your seal will perform at all. At high enough speeds this can cause a vibration in the seal which allows the seal faces to OPEN.

000 and the seal cost $10. Believe me. Axial Shaft Movement Set up your DTI to measure the amount of axial movement of the shaft. The new seal had been fitted onto the old sleeve and leaked immediately on startup. total cost of seal change $25.metres. The seal faces were intact but having been run for 24 hours in that condition another new seal assembly was required.along the shaft as well as at the seal running position. I was called out to a cooling water pump supplying a 100Mw Power station. When a new shaft sleeve is fitted. it is a good idea to re -run the shaft run-out check to ensure that the sleeve is concentric with the shaft. Essentially there are four types of thrust bearings . The extent of the damage was not immediately obvious to the eye but by carefully measuring the surface the fault was found.000.05 m. and this should be with every new seal. The run out should not exceed 0. skimping on the job is not the same as saving hard cash. its bearing configuration. Amount saved on first installation $4. The shaft size was 230mm and it took three men two days to strip and rebuild the seal box. You have checked the shaft for run -out and because the seal elastomer has a tendency to wear a fret ring on the shaft a shaft sleeve is fitted to protect the shaft.500. On examination it was found that the o -ring contacting the shaft sleeve surface had worn a groove (Fretting damage) and the new o-ring was unable to seal against this damaged surface. The shaft sleeve cost $4. It is a false economy to omit to change the shaft sleeve when replacing a mechanical seal.002 inches or 0.002 inches or 0.05 m.500. A note about shaft sleeves.000. and the type of thrust bearing in use. The amount will vary according to the type of pump. Shaft Sleeve Concentricity. and it should have cost $15. The run out should not exceed 0.

Seal Housing Squareness The seal stationary must be fitted at 90 degrees to the axis of the shaft. If you want good seal performance then start out right . The basic principle is that the shaft should be set to its running position before attempting to fit the seal. perhaps causing the rebuild that is now necessary. Non cartridge types need to have a datum mark scribed onto the shaft relative to the seal plate position and then the fitting dimension marked from this point. the seal cover plate should be fixed to the pump casing. or thrust pad bearings. Failing to achieve this will cause the seal head to move to take up any mis-alignment.y y y y Deep groove ball bearings Roller bearings Michell.. Put the sensing tip of the Dial Indicator inside the bore on the wall of the seal housing and rotate the shaft.. A note about fitting position. the shaft positioned. don't take short cuts. Balance piston thrust absorbing arrangement. measure the distance required. A small amount of misalignment is permitted but the important thing is to check that the seal body cannot touch the seal housing wall at any point . It is not good practice to fit a new seal by looking at the old set-screw marks and then lining up on them. The last seal could have been fitted incorrectly. and then the seal locking screws tightened to the shaft. The basic check is as shown in the diagram. This type is often found on high pressure multi-stage water pumps where the hydraulic forces are partially balanced by the impellers and controlled leakage past a balance piston provides the final stage of rotating unit positioning. Kingsbury. This movement offers an opportunity for the seal faces to open and for the ingress of dirt particles. If you are changing out packing and up-grading your equipment to a mechanical seal you need to pay close attention to setting the seal housing closing plate in the correct position. In the case of cartridge seals. You are storing up future trouble if you skimp. It is also wise to check the bore of the seal housing at this point for concentricity with the shaft. usually made of white metal bearing surfaces.

Even the best have trouble with this one. Bearings need to be replaced if they have been running with any pump leakage around. A seal starved of its ration of cooling water will be very unforgiving and cause you lots of grief in a short time. and it can increase the pressure inside the seal housing which will cause your seal to wear out faster! Seal F ail u re . If you are changing out soft packing for a mechanical seal replace the bearings on th e unit too. General Checks While the pump unit is in the shop for maintenance take the opportunity to ensure that the cooling water jacket is clear of debris. Cavitation can cause vibration in the pump shaft which will affect the seal 's performance. This kind of fault is very difficult to diagnose for the average engineer. The leakage from the packing gland is more than enough to damage the bearings. too! So check it out now while the doing is easy. Moisture ingress into a bearing dramatically reduces a bearing's useful life. that any other cooling water arrangement is cleared of any obstruction. Orifice plates controlling the flow of water to a seal housing should be checked dimensionally correct. Allowing recirculation within the pump volute is no way to keep the eff iciency of your plant at the highest level.of its rotation. Check the impeller for cavitation damage indicating a system problem that might go un-noticed during normal running conditions. I know you will ensure that the impeller sealing rings are replaced or re bushed to keep the clearances within design limits.

. fail long before they are worn out. the installation failure. A worn out seal will leak when the seal face has worn away completely. The basics are simple. those that affect the seal operation are: Axial y y y y Radial y y y y Bearing wear Bent shaft Shaft whip Shaft deflection (discharge closed) End play Thrust movement Temperature growth Impeller adjustment Vibration y y System NPSH incorrect causing cavitation Harmonic vibration. . check the coupling. The chemical environment causes a material failure.Why Seals Fail Seals fail for a number of reasons. If we extend this criteria to all leaking seals it becomes sadly obvious that the majority of seals. This section is devoted to the three main reasons why seals fail. OK so there is another category . Only three you say? Three main reasons and lots of routes to them. does it "hum" or "buzz". Has the seal failed or simply worn out? What you decide now will determine whether you fit a replacement seal or seek out an alternative type. Seals fail because . Heat causes a problem. Here you are in a situation in which the seal has run for a period well beyond the installation period. y y y The seal faces open. Its leaking and now you have to make a decision. but that's covered in the installation section.... Seal Faces Open The shaft moves for many reasons. Your job is to pinpoint the reason and fix it. perhaps 85% of process seals.

Poor pump performance. can cause these conditions. The rota ting head has to follow any misalignment from square that the stationary carries. because on those faces lie clues to help yo u find the faults opposing long seal life. Other causes The seal runs against a stationary component. Now. The stationary is usually fitted into the seal plate which is bolted to the pump and sealed with a gasket. None of this is easy to achieve and each error compounds the next. All of the items described mean that the shaft and seal are in constant relative movement. because of poor performance now combined with poor system design. unless you are concerned about your seal life. Well when we have gotten through this section and onto the tell tale . Every rotation of the shaft causes the rotating seal head to move back -andforth twice. I do not want to sound too pedantic here but you have to realize that the seal stationary has to be fitted square to the axis of the shaft and in proper alignment with the axis of the pump shaft. causing turbulent flow and shaft bending. will be experiencing discharge throttling. There are theories. dirt in the liquid penetrates the lapped surf aces. embeds in the soft face which gradually changes to a grinding surface to score and wear away the hard face of the stationary ring. should you achieve it then other factors come into play to limit the excellence of your work. The faces acquire a film of liquid that lubricates the seal surfaces. If anything interferes with the free movement of the seal. Difficult as it is to get the stationary fitted correctly. coupling misalignment. Stress imposed by pipe strain. This statement covers a host of sins. To be a sealman you have to believe. Impeller imbalance Slip-stick. Not surprisingly not much is known about what happens between seal faces in service. Consider running two or three pumps into one discharge line. Interfere with that movement and the faces are open. Does it matter? Not really. the odds are that the pump performances will not be perfectly matched. but there is a condition that causes the faces to vibrate open when pumping non-lubricating fluids. When the faces open. the carbon face wears slightly depositing a layer of carbon on the stationary face so that the carbon face runs on carbon . the faces open. very hot water. Look into other causes of poor pump performance. or plain thermal growth put the pump casing out of shape just enough to cause the seal to work harder. The seal faces "chatter " against each other in a slip-stick motion slipping when the drive lug hits the seal head. because what is happening here? One or oth er of the pumps. The stationary has to be fitted into the seal-plate square. Have you noticed this effect? Do you look at your failed seals? You should. tending to over load the impeller at the throat.y y y Rubber couplings can operate with high degrees of misalignment without total failure but cause problems for the seal. Fluids near their vapour point. bouncing round and momentarily stopping before being hit by the drive lug again.

cause crystallizing when the salts come out of solution or the sugars become caramelized. Solids can cause the seal head to stick to the shaft or restrict the o-ring flexibility. Distortion of the stationary face. grinding surface and removes material at a faster rate. sugary solutions. A lathe finish is not good enough. etc. Used on some services the O-ring could very quickly become clogged preventing the seal head from moving to accommodate wear of the faces.) can cause serious surface damage to your shaft or sleeve leading to early seal failure. chevrons.000" to -0. The surface finish on the shaft/sleeve is too rough. The shaft is out on machining tolerance. The pumped fluid changes state.signs I bet you will take a bit more notice of your failed seal bodies. Fretting. A rubber ring coated with chromium oxide becomes more efficient as a polishing. Spring loaded elastomers will stick to the shaft. The finish should be at least 32 RMS and for that a ground finish is required. back to back version. The oxide is carried into the wiping surface changing its character completely. tar. You may never figure this one out. The polishing action removes the surfac e molecules. A leak under the seal head looks very much like a face leak. You will see the build up of material around the leak site. Sea water. This is not common but the y y y y y y y y .002" from nominal. Elastomers moving very slightly against this surface wipe away the oxide which immediately reforms. Take a look at the double seal arrangement . after all it is going to wear against the packing so its external dimension is not too important. Correct tolerance is +0. A "fret" ring is characterized by a polish mark on the shaft surface at the point where the seal elastomer seals against the shaft. This can be difficult to spot. brine pumps. cause similar problems. Otherwise sometime in the future the seal will let go. The main reasons why seal faces open are: y The elastomer sticks to the shaft. unless you know what to look for . An oversize sleeve or shaft will cause the seal to hang -up. Very small movements between components causes a polishing action. and when.. A packing sleeve is not machined to any close tolerance. and the faces will look good but only partly worn. What has happened is that the spring pressure has reduced to the point where the seal leaks during idle periods.. Incorrect setting length at installation.005" (0. On pump shafts made of stainless materials the surface of the metal consists of chromium oxide. usually after the pump is stopped. Just make sure that the fitting dimension is correct when installing the seal. heat transfer oil. Other coking substances.13mm) and then roll. Have you got a hardened shaft on your pump unit? The seal set screws will not "bite" into the shaft and could slip causing the setting dimension of the seal to alter. O-rings will fret a shaft but spring loaded elastomers (teflon wedges. O-rings will flex by 0. an under size shaft or sleeve will prejudice the ability of the elastomers to seal the head to the shaft/sleeve . If worn badly enough the fret ring can cause a new seal to fail on installation because the elastomer cannot seal effectively due to the damage on the surface.

Incorrectly fitted gasket extending into the seal chamber. so check out your grade and suspect poor fitting if its a high grade material failing by cracking. the seal will show you what is happening. 6. cracking? The seal hits something. A seal box recirc line is directed at the seal faces. Check this out if you are changing seal type or intend using different materials to cope with other problems.y y y stationary could be badly fitted leading to over tightening. Face Mis-centering or run-off. . y y y y Heat affects the elastomer. consider the distorting effect of poor clamping if no other solution presents itself. Split casing pumps can suffer this problem. A 16 deg F rise doubles the corrosi on rate of most acids. Low grade silicon carbide will crack with sudden changes in temperature. 1. hard. are they swollen. or plated surfaces. 4.9% only heat check if they are tightened un-evenly. 2. 3. 5. but bear in mind that the run ning clearance of the seal components and the shaft may be quite tight. Insufficient clearance in the seal chamber. so a small shaft displacement may not be obvious. Raising the temperature of corrosive liquids increases their potency. Scoring of the stationary and an off center running track gives you all you need to know. You will notice this pretty quick. y We now have the over-view of heat related failures so let us look in more detail at what is happening. Lots of things happen to elastomers so check out the ones on your seal. such as stellite. it is prevented from moving to accommodate runout. Most seal chambers have a radial flow insert when most seal manufacturer's will tell you that a tangential flow insert is safer and causes less disturbance to the seal faces. Failure under these circumstances may be confused with cracking due to heat checki ng of the component.C grades of 99. With other materials such as tungsten carbide. Heat can change the state of the fluid being pumped. Solids in the seal chamber hitting the seal. Differential expansion rates can destroy plated seal surfaces. Differential expansion of shaft and pump casing can change the face loading by altering the fit ting dimension. The shaft is bent and hitting the stationary face. This is not common and is easy to diagnose. The shaft is not concentric with the seal chamber. This the part most sensitive to extremes of temperature. so I list a few. The faces are not concentric and the rotating head comes off the stationary track and picks up dirt. squashed. o Lots of possibilities here. Heat Causes Seal Failures. especially the silicon carbide grades which are designed with a lip to be clamped in the seal plate. Incorrect grade of O-ring material. shiny. S.

and others. Loss of water to a cooling water jacket. because the face weight is varying with the system pressure. where is the elastomer in relation to the seal faces. buna-n. loss of any cooling arrangements puts your seals at risk. Excessive heat producing a temperature rise of 55 Deg C on a Viton O ring will reduce its useful life to less than 1000 hours running time. Unbalanced seals. All sea ls had to be changed. The use of low friction seal face combinations will reduce this effect. these materials continue to be affected by the heat applied during the life of the seal. are commonly found in sealing applications. Depending upon the type of face material and the seal box environment a rise of around 25 deg C above the seal fluid temperature can occur. Heat is generated from the friction running at the seal faces. but not run. in Saudi Arabia I was called to a refinery that had been under construction for several years and pumps had be en installed. Pumps under going test runs were leaking along the shafts. Rubber compounds are made by baking the material until it is cured to a predetermined hardness or durometer. The point for you is tha t exceeding the range of the rubber parts of your seal will shorten the working life of the seal and you need to bear this in mind. nitrile. The various materials formed in this way. . For a seal that is expected to run for one year that is an 88% reduction in useful life. At temperatures beyond the range of the rubber s eal the material continues to harden. At higher temperatures the elastomer life to full compression set will depend upon the temperature and time at this temperature. for varying periods. The nearer the elastomer is placed to the running faces the greater the additional heat it will experience. An 82 deg C rise will reduce the life of the seal by 97%. O-rings are manufactured with a 10% tolerance oversize to allow for some thermo -setting in service. Formed in a heat setting process. A wide range of elastomers are in use and many of them are rubber compounds. An odd case. Less common is Kalrez a specialized compound with a high resistance to chemical attack.Elastomers. O-rings take on a "compression" set and appear oval and feel hard to the touch. Teflon materials have a predetermined heat ran ge of up to 226 deg C beyond which Teflon breaks down and burns making small amounts of phosgene gas. can experience greater rises in face generated heat creating damage to the elastomer. viton. Teflon should not be used in temperatures close to its ultimate limit because it is a heat insulator and local heat production may cause it to reach its ultimate temperature. The carbon / ceramic combina tion has the lowest friction rating with hard faces such as tungsten / tungsten faces the highest. As it hardens the shape of the seal takes on the shape of the groove if an O -ring or splits appear in rubber bellows as flexibility is lost. Look at your seal types. Investigation showed that over time in ambient temperatures of 55 deg C the seal elastomers had baked hard and vulcanized to the metal parts.

or simply burn and coke. Water treatment crystals. Examination of regular temperature recordings made of the cooling water system and seal box temperatures revealed that the out-board seal was being starved of cooling water flow. The signs are un -mistakable on the seal face. A similar effect is seen in food plants handling product containing sugar. It was thought appropriate to fit a double seal with a barrier fluid for future installations. Fortunately no one was hurt and no explosion occurred but it was a close thing. Another small droplet penetrating the faces vaporizes and causes the faces to open again. Heat can destroy seal faces. Water increases in volume by 1700 times. Boiler feed pumps and other hot water pumps can be heard "popping" or "puffing" if the seals are not working correctly. All can seem well with your equipment but the seals will always let you know first when problems are arising. Coking causes a hard solid to form around the seal effectively stopping it from moving freely. and similar fluids leaking past your seal and drying out around the seal plate c an build up to affect the seal head and prevent it from moving. so a small drop vaporizing across a seal face will explosively blow apart the faces. entrained oxides. other dirt particles are trapped between the faces as they close. . collapsing the steam bubble and causing the faces to snap shut. Dismantling the orifice plate controlling the flow to the in -board seal showed excessive wear enlarging the orifice and allowing through a larger proportion of the flow. Changing state of the fluid Liquid gases and other volatile fluids can vaporize and freeze water out of the air on the outside of the sea l restricting movement. As the water droplets expand and open the seal faces more water rushes in to cool the area. Liquids changing state to a gas experience enormous volume increases. Shortly before I took up my post in Saudi Arabia a liquid propane pump blew its seal open due to a build up of ice around the seal faces. Sugar escaping across a seal face can crystallize. Liquid released into the atmosphere created a vast cloud of highly flammable gas. Heat can cause impurities to come out of solution and plate onto seal surfaces. building up hard films or lacquers. Normally I would expe ct more problems with the inboard (coupling end ) seal due to less opportunity to dissipate the heat soak along the shaft. I have mentioned some of these effects but I think a defined list will help you. Sea -water. Hydrocarbons form coke as they partially burn or vaporize. Replacing the orifice plate solved the problem. brine. Crystals can also score the running surfaces of the seal causing damage leading to failure. Your seal is on its way to the scrap yard. Some fluids crystallize with additional heat.I was called to a split-casing boiler feed pump that was experiencing out board seal failure.

Carbon rings using fillers and fitted int o high temperature pumps can have the filler material melt out of the carbon causing them to become porous Poor carbons with voids can blister and pit as the trapped air or gases expand and blows pieces off the carbon surface. Seal compression is set at about 0. . Tell-tale signs of inaccurate setting of the seal will be where you need to be looking. The seal material will expand also but under extreme circumstances this expansion can cause the seal to hang-up on the shaft. Apart from ensuring the accurate placing of the seal on the pump shaft there is little to be done to compensate for such movement. A stainless steel shaft 48" long by 4" dia will grow 0. A seal mounted on a shaft moving by 0. The expansion rates are poorly matched so operating outside of the design limits of the materials will cause strains to appear in the plating interface. causing crac ks to appear.138" with other expansion effects happening to the pump casing is in danger of opening. Get to know which materials are being fitted into your seal installations.Plated materials can experience differential expansion. The higher quality ceramic (99. The effect of touching the lapped surface with a finger is to coat the surface with dirt and skin oils but also to distort the surface away from flat by the application of heat from your hand. going out of flat.064" to produce the spring face weight.138" in length when heated through 300 deg F. Springs and other highly stressed parts can fail due to increased corrosion. All metals expand when heated.9%) will cold shock if it is under distorting stress. Sudden changes in temperature of 38 deg C or more will destroy the seal face. The cracks will cause the carbon face to wear dramatically fast. O-rings can become hard or start to crack.125" . by about 0. The less expensive ceramic material (85%) will crack if cold shocked. Over-compression of the elastomers will limit their effectiveness. Metal surfaces can be attacked and appear pitted which will prejudice the seals ability to work properly. as well as the other effects mentioned earlier.010". Heat increases the corrosiveness of most corrosive materials y y y y y The carbon part of the seal will show signs of being attacked. Often materials such as stellite are plated over stainless steel. properly fitted and evenly clamped it will survive sudden changes in temperature. The working limit of most carbon seal faces is 0. Lapped seal faces can disto rt. The shaft diameter will expand too. or become swollen and excessively soft. O-ring grooves can be damaged limiting their ability to seal effectively. Expansion due to heating effects. Distorted seal faces leak.

You will find some new problem and when you do I want to hear all about it. metal bellows seals. I just know I will in time! G e n er al Pump Problems can be either caused by: 1. They are usually in -expensive and over-engineered. The reaction of the impurities to the acid solution cause holes and pits to form. weakening the structure and producing a porous carbon. Failure of materials is usually a sign of a mis -match of material to environment. Set screws clamping onto a hardened shaft material will not grip properly. welding techniques used in construction and material compatibility with mating components and pumped fluids are factors that affect the life of a seal. The springs can break. Metals corrode. so we concentrate on the effects of environmental attack on sensitive components. leading to a range of other effects. but ultimately to a seal failure. Look forward to hearing from you. Many single coil spring driven seals fail because the spring breaks.Material Failure. So do all the other guys visiting this site. so the plating material can be removed from the surface. allowing the seal body to slip. The substantial construction of seals exc ludes major failure of some main component. Acid attack on carbon is directed against the impurities. y y Chemical attack on the elastomer will cause it to swell. Pump System Problem Truth The Great Majority of Pump Problems are with the Pump System The Majority of Pump System Problems are on the Suction Side . Mechanical Problem with the Pump or 2. A higher grade of carbon is required. Stainless steel is known to fail due to chloride stress corrosion. y y y y This list is not exhaustive however comprehensive it may appear. Plated seal faces are not corrosion resistant. but they still fail. The carbon will appear pitted. In seals where metal parts are designed to be thin due to flexibility requirements.

Pipe Stress In any case the problem can be corrected by taking it apart and simply fixing it by either replacing the damaged parts or correcting the installation. The mechanical noise can be caused by: 1. Items Required: 1.Pump Problems are usually associated with Noisy Operation Mechanical Problem To determine if this noise is a mechanical problem with the pump drain it. Bad bearings 6. Pump Operation Manual 3. Impeller out of Balance 4. Impeller Rubbing 3. Parts List System Problem . Coupling Misalignment 7. Pump Installation Manual 2. close both suction and discharge valves and run the pump briefly. Bent or Twisted shaft 5. Debris in the Impeller 2. If the noise continues you have a mechanical problem. V-Belt sheave Misalignment 8. Pump Maintenance Manual 4.

Pressure Gauge .To Check Horsepower Load 4.However if the Noise goes away after draining the pump etc. Combination Vacuum/Pressure Gauge .NPSHA < NPSHR. Symptoms 1. The pump sounds like it is pumping rocks! 2. Low discharge pressure/High flow Causes . then the noise is caused by the Pumping System. Pump System Noise is usually caused by: 1. Cavitation 2. Pump Performance Curve . High Vacuum reading on suction line 3.To Check Pump Suction Reading 2.To Check Pump Discharge Pressure Reading 3.To Check Pump Speed 5. Vortexing Tools Required In order to troubleshoot a pump system problem the following tools are required: 1.To Check all Readings Against the Expected Pump Performance C avi ta ti o n Suction Cavitation Suction Cavitation occurs when the Net Positive Suction Head Available to the pump is less than what is Required -----------. Amp Meter . Tachometer .

Install larger pump running slower which will decrease the Net Positive Suction Head Required by the pump(NPSHR) 6. Low flow Causes 1. Increase suction line diameter 4. Move pump closer to source tank/sump 3. High Discharge Gauge reading 3. Remove debris from suction line 2. Suction line too long 3. Symptoms 1. Suction lift too high 5. Decrease suction lift requirement 5. Clogged suction pipe 2. Valve on Suction Line only partially open Remedies 1. The pump sounds like it is pumping rocks! 2. Fully open Suction line valve Discharge Cavitation Discharge Cavitation occurs when the pump discharge head is too high where the pump runs at or near shutoff. Clogged discharge pipe .1. Increase discharge pressure 7. Suction line diameter too small 4.

Increase discharge line diameter 4.2. Discharge line too long 3. Discharge line valve only partially open Remedies 1. Discharge line diameter too small 4. Install larger pump which will maintain the required flow without discharge cavitating 6. Pump makes a growling sound 2. Decrease discharge line length 3. Decrease discharge static head requirement 5. Whirlpool usually visible on liquid surface 3. The velocity at the suction line entrance is too high Remedy Decrease liquid velocity and/or increase submergence in accordance with the following table . Discharge static head too high 5. Remove debris from discharge line 2. Loss of Flow Causes 1. Fully open discharge line valve Vor t exi n g Vortexing is caused by insufficient surface tension on the liquid Symptoms 1. There is not enough liquid height above the suction line entrance 2.

Submergence can be increased by resetting the pump shutoff level higher in the sump or tank. Velocity can be decreased by enlarging the suction bottom opening by installing a suction bell. .

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