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How To Avoid Common Diaphragm Pump Issues

Diaphragm Pump

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 that Diaphragm Pump problems can cause.

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 could include over-pressurising, vibration throughout the system and high wear all of which could affect the pumps life. That’s why Tapflo UK are here to prevent these Diaphragm Pump problems from happening!


Over-pressurising: Vibration Dry Running: Pump Compatibility Operator Misuse: Using a Barrier Pump for Diaphragm Rupture Protection Monthly Diaphragm Pump Maintenance Tips


Most Air-Operated Diaphragm Pumps are rated to a maximum of 8 Bar air pressure. If your pump were to go over 8 Bar, it is likely that a diaphragm rupture would occur which would cause internal damage within the pump due to 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.

General changes that you can make to the running of your pump can help prevent diaphragm ruptures:

  • Not deadheading or dry running your Diaphragm Pumps for extended periods of time. Although it is a feature of your pump, it shouldn’t be used in excess, if the pump is not handling fluid, it should be turned off as soon as possible
  • Putting a regular maintenance plan in place on-site, during maintenance, your diaphragms should be checked for signs of wear and can be replaced before they have become so worn out that they rupture.
  • 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.
  • Remember: before disassembling or carrying out any maintenance on your pump you need to drain it of all liquid.


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 work 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.

Guardian System for Air Operated Diaphragm Pumps

How to Avoid:

There are a number of ways to avoid dry running, but one of the most effective ways is to use a Guardian System. They are excellent at monitoring the fluid discharge pressure of the pump, which stops if the pressure falls below a set point, resulting in the air getting ingested into the pump.

Tapflo’s Guardian System can also be used for deadhead, 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-around easier solution for you!

Pump 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 the 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.

Cole Palmer Compatibility Guide

Operator Misuse:

Although there are still a number of other issues that can cause damage to your pump, operator misuse 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.

Using a Barrier Pump for Diaphragm Rupture Protection

Metal Barrier Diaphragm Pump

The Tapflo Barrier Pump is a variation of the standard pump which gives the user an extra set of diaphragms to contain any fluid in the case of a rupture. A Barrier Pump contains a set of primary diaphragms (fluid side) and backup diaphragms (airside).

Within a Diaphragm Pump, the diaphragms are moving parts under pressure; because of this, they present the greatest risk of failure.

In the standard pump if the media being pumped penetrates the diaphragm the media will then flow through the centre of your pump, destroying it and in turn leaking out into the atmosphere.

Barrier Protection puts a chamber between the fluid diaphragms and the airside which will keep the media from breaking into the atmosphere in the case of a diaphragm rupture.

If the chemical being pumped is extremely hazardous and cannot come into contact with the operator, or another customer in the UK has a product that ignites when exposed to the atmosphere, this would make a Barrier pump the only sensible choice to ensure no flames!

The flip side of hazardous is expensive; a number of barrier users have products they can’t afford to lose in the instance of a breakdown. Working with Tapflo to supply diaphragm rupture protection not only looks after the process media but helps to emphasise health and safety on your site.

Monthly Diaphragm Pump Maintenance Tips

  • Check and tighten the pump’s main nuts and bolts once a month. This will reduce the risk of your Diaphragm Pump leaking. Luckily, with a Tapflo Diaphragm Pump, there are considerably fewer bolts than the market standard Air Pump. Tightening torques are provided in the pump manual for reference.
  • Check the seals on the connections to and from your Diaphragm Pump on a regular basis for wear, and make sure that they are airtight to ensure efficient operation.
  • Checking your airline is essential for maintaining a Diaphragm Pump. The pump can only be run with dry & clean air; any contamination to your airline will cause the O-Rings on the air valve to fail and your pump to stall, causing damage to your Diaphragm Pump and potentially to its surrounding environment.

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. Don’t forget to check out our Air-Operated Double Diaphragm Pump range and if you have any questions regarding your Diaphragm Pump problems, then get in touch today! Thanks for reading!

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