When one of our Service Technicians was called out to look at a centrifugal pump experiencing repeated bearing failures, it took no time at all to diagnose the problem. The pump’s baseplate was by no means affixed to the manufacturer’s floor. There was no grout, not bolts, nothing but pipe holding the pump in place.
You're probably thinking, that's an extreme case and that it doesn't happen very often. But poor baseplate installation is more common than one might think. A bad base, means bad reliability for centrifugal pumps, so I sat down with one of our most experienced Service Technicians to learn the most important things to consider for proper pump baseplate installation.
Proper Installation Is Key
A firm foundation is essential for the longest mean time between failures (or MTBF). Even the best system design will fail if poorly executed during installation. For pumps, poor installation means greater machine vibration, which leads to a myriad of chronic issues, mainly bearing and mechanical seal failures.
Begin at ground level
An installed baseplate must be level. Because the system’s design assumes all pumps will be level, making sure that they are ensures that the pump will not feel the effects of pipe strain, and will be set up to succeed.
An unleveled installation can also cause issues with lubrication. One bearing may over lubricated, while another may not receive enough.
Applying the right base
Solid bases are best for most applications. Solid bases allow for better vibration reduction, and a better installation, overall.
Channel bases, or rolled steel are also options, but you may have to cut your own hole in them to grout them in place. Rolled steel bases are also known to create soft foot situations, so use with caution.
The Applied Solution
In our example from the beginning of this article, the solution to the pump’s chronic problems was clear. The baseplate was grouted, then bolted to the floor. Doing so eliminated a great deal of the pump’s vibration, and eliminated the pipe strain imposed on its nozzles.
A bad base means an overall bad installation. Take the time (and sometimes the additional expense) to do the job right. You’ll come out ahead in the long run.
Have a pump that always fails? It may not be the pump’s fault! Ask us about it. We gladly provide technical assistance to businesses and municipalities in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.