How to Avoid Common Diaphragm Pump Problems

An image used to describe the common problems experienced witha a diaphragm pump

Ever had an issue with your diaphragm pump? Worried you’re not taking the right steps to prevent issues? Well… you’ve come to the right place! Today we’re running through the most common concerns that can arise from using diaphragm pumps and how to avoid the pre-worries and post-stress.

As you’re probably aware, installing an Air Operated Diaphragm Pump wrong can lead to many issues but what you may not know is that some of the issues caused by an incorrect installation may not crop up straight away.

A few examples of this would be over-pressurising, vibration throughout the system and high wear all of which could affect the pumps life.

Over-pressurising:

Most Air Operated Diaphragm Pumps are rated to a maximum of eight bar air pressure. If your pump were to go over eight bar a diaphragm rupture could occur which would lead to internal damage within the pump caused from media escaping into the main body. It can also cause air valve damage, such as perished O-rings and damage to the main air valve body… not pretty!

How to avoid:
Good question! An Air Filter Regulator can help to monitor the pressure entering the pump, this should be complete with a lock according to new legislation. A needle valve can also help control the speed of the air into the pump and in turn fluid flow.

Vibration:
Vibration is mainly caused when your pump has been mounted incorrectly, this can result in a high risk of vibration through the discharge line. A lot of diaphragm pumps are sat on the floor and this causes the pump itself to vibrate and in turn the main components to come loose. This can then lead to leaks from a number of different places, which you definitely want to avoid!

Along with the strain on all working parts, another main cause of vibration is fixing the pump straight to rigid pipework, which can also lead to vibration within the line, causing a high amount of strain to the pipework and its fixings.

How to avoid:
Well, simply put… mount your pump correctly! Mounting a pump to a solid surface with anti-vibration feet is one of the most important things when installing a Diaphragm pump. This can easily be achieved by using a wall or floor mounting bracket with any variety of anti-vibration feet. When it comes to avoiding vibration within the line, the best step to take would be installing a meter of Flexi Hose on both the inlet and the outlet of the pump before connecting to rigid pipework. This also helps when taking the pump off the line.

Dry running:
Although it can be said that dry running a diaphragm pump has no adverse effects, it is still not recommended. Dry running a pump for long periods of time will cause higher wear to working parts, including both diaphragms and all valve balls, due to there being no media within the pump. This then causes the valve balls to continuously hit against a bare valve seat, which can cause the valve balls to misshape causing considerable wear.

How to avoid:
There are a number of ways to avoid dry running, so we’ll run through a cost-effective solution and a technical solution… and it’s up to you which you prefer!

The cheapest option is to have your personnel in charge of the pumps monitor the operation of the pump closer, ensuring the pump is shut off when it’s finished pumping. However, for a more technically advanced solution we highly recommend the Tapflo Guardian System!
The Guardian System monitors the fluid discharge pressure of the pump, which stops if the pressure falls below a set point – caused by the lack of media on the suction – resulting in air getting ingested into the pump. Our Guardian System can also be used for dead head, stop/restart and barrier protection.

Another way to avoid dry running is to use a level control, which can also be purchased from Tapflo UK, and will work with any diaphragm pump. The level system monitors the level of media on the suction or discharge and can be set to either a high or low level, which will in turn switch the pump off when the levels reach a set point, meaning an all-round easier solution for you!

Compatibility:

Ensuring your media is compatible with the materials that your pump is built from is a key factor when selecting and installing a new pump. If the media is not compatible it can lead to a number of issues such as high wear or even failure of the main components. This could then lead to harming the user due to media escaping the pump into atmosphere should it be hazardous.

How to avoid:
When selecting a pump here at Tapflo UK, we check the compatibility of your media against the material of the pump offered. We do, however, always recommend using a compatibility chart, two of which are linked below and are used by ourselves. Please ensure you are checking every element of the media, should it contain more than one substance.

Tapflo Chemical Compatibility Guide

Cole Palmer Compatibility Guide

Operator misuse:

Although there are still a number of other issues that can cause damage to your pump, we will finish this post on operator misuse (without pointing any fingers…). Not looking after your pump correctly can have a considerable effect on its lifespan; ensuring all the above steps are in place is key to the longevity of your pump, although that doesn’t mean it can be forgotten by its users!

How to avoid:
A recommended spares kit or duty standby should be kept on site at all times, and you should ensure your pump is serviced at specific intervals determined by the application. The main nuts and bolts holding the pump together should be checked and tightened to the correct torque setting found in the manual at least once a month, as this will avoid leaks and any damage. Dry air only should be used on Air Operated Diaphragm Pumps, as moisture within the air valve can cause O-ring rupture and pump stalling. Inlet and outlet sealing should be checked for leaks and any signs of wear on a regular basis, and the air exhaust muffler should be kept clear at all times.

There we have it, our top tips on avoiding the most common Diaphragm Pump problems! Don’t forget, looking after your pump and taking into consideration the points above is key to prolonging the lifespan of your pump and avoiding issues that could cause serious damage down the line.

Look out for further blog posts in the future on other pump-related topics, and feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions! Thanks for reading!

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