10 Safety Tips for Using a Centrifugal Pump

Estimates show that 614,000 workers were injured on the job in the UK between 2014/15 and 2016/17.

Centrifugal Pumps are commonly used both domestically and in industrial settings such as plants and factories. While the design may change, the pumps typically work at high velocity and pressure.

Here are the top 10 safety tips to consider while working with a Centrifugal Pump:

1. Hold Safety Seminars

Employees should be properly trained before working with these pumps.

All of your employees who are authorised to use Centrifugal Pumps should know how and when to read pressure levels, be able to handle the line draining procedure, and know how to use the emergency shutoff valve.

Spend time holding safety seminars to teach simple instructions, such as wearing safety gear correctly.

2. Avoid Overheating

Centrifugal Pumps can overheat and damage internal components. On top of that, they can also cause serious burns to workers servicing the pump.

Don't allow a Centrifugal Pump to overheat. Leave the suction and discharge lines open during operation.

If the pump does overheat, shut it down and allow it to cool. Allow the drain plug to vent before restarting the pump. As always, don't touch the pump before it has cooled. You can cause major injuries simply by removing the cover plate.

3. Replace Old Parts

Often, worn-out components of Centrifugal Pumps lead to workplace accidents and can even damage the pump itself.

Even small parts, such as a bearing or casing wear ring, can cause catastrophic safety issues if they're worn out. If the pump shaft starts to wobble, it can lead to the pump overheating.

To avoid this concern, check the safety suction lines and pipe plugs frequently. Eventually, sealants wear away and can allow foreign objects into the pump itself. Always replace worn out parts and components as often as possible.

4. Test For Air Leaks

Air leaks become common once parts become worn out and old. If air is present, the pump will usually emit a loud, gravel-like noise.

First, make sure the noise is not a result of cavitation. Check the vacuum gauge reading. If the readings are erratic, the suction flap valve, seals, or hose may be worn out and need to be replaced.

5. Understand Suction Blockages

Sometimes, Centrifugal Pumps become blocked with foreign objects or mismatched parts. Blockages can sometimes occur when rubber lining in a suction hose pulls away from the fabric. However, the exact problem can be a number of issues.

Checking for these blockages requires knowledge of what is being pumped and the design of the pump. You can avoid problems by keeping suction lines short and straight, which will help to eliminate vapor pockets or bubbles.

Also, make sure suction strainers are not clogged or dirty, which helps avoid eventual cavitation.

6. Accessories

Numerous accessories provided with the pump can extend its usage. Accessories often have alarms that shut off the system during safety emergencies. Examples of such system accessories include:

  • Diaphragm barrier alarm system - This system will immediately alarm and shut off the pump in the event of a diaphragm break
  • Dry-run prevention system - This system will immediately alarm and shut off the pump should it run dry.
  • Level control system - This system is operated with pneumatic components only. The level control system may be installed in sumps, tanks, or tubs to start and stop the pump at certain liquid levels.

7. Perform Routine Shut-Off Tests

This specific Centrifugal Pump test will help to determine the internal wear of the pump and the pull of the vacuum:

First, start the pump to achieve full flow, then slowly close the discharge valve. Record the discharge and suction gauge reading.

The reading should be equal to the pump performance maximum pressure at zero flow. This condition ensures the pump is capable of performing as designed.

8. Use a Centrifugal Pump For Intended Use

There are different types of Centrifugal Pumps, and some are only intended to transport a certain type of material.

Employees should never run liquid through a pump not designed to handle it.

For example, pumping corrosive or flammable liquids through a pump intended for water or waste can lead to complications. The environment should also be clear of dangerous materials, especially if it's flammable.

Using a pump properly will maintain the levels of cleanliness, pressure, temperature, and flow levels needed to keep operations safe.

9. Proper Installation

Installation of any pumps, including Centrifugal Pumps, requires professionals.

Neglecting to install these pumps correctly can lead to major safety violations and possible fines. Get professional services to install these pumps correctly to ensure the safety of others.

It may be tempting to have employees install a new pump themselves, but doing so could lead to more expenses and violations.

10. Achieve Proper Alignment

To ensure the longevity of a Centrifugal Pump, make sure the driver's alignment is sound. Not only is it a safety issue, but it can also help save costs that would have been spent on repairs.

If not properly aligned, the bearings and driver of the pump will wear down and possibly cause the pump to overheat. Eventually, couplings will fail if left undetected.

Make sure to inspect the alignment of the driver at least once a month. If jobs are done in a larger capacity, or more frequently, inspect more often.

Be Aware of Centrifugal Pump Safety Precautions

Safety while working with Centrifugal Pumps enhances their performance and durability. Protect your workers and pumps with the tips we have provided.

Proper installation of any pump is beneficial from the start. Regular inspections can keep the pump working and your workers safe and sound.

We offer many different pumps to suit the job at hand safely and securely. We can even craft Engineered To Order pumps suited to your individual needs.

Contact us today so we can provide you with one of our pumps.

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