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Last summer, we received a phone call from a customer saying that the flange on the pump they had just purchased from us broke after being in service for only 20 days or so. It could be a quality issue, but those are rare. It was more likely there was something more at play.
One of our engineers went out to take a look at the system to see if he could troubleshoot the issue. It didn’t take long to see that this was a textbook example of pipe strain. There was a 15 foot, 2.5” diameter pipe coming down from the ceiling to a 90 degree elbow that then connected to a short length of pipe before connecting to the pump. No support. So not only was the pump supporting the weight of the pipe, it was also supporting the weight of the column of water it held. Pipe strain and flange breakage? Absolutely!
Pipe strain is a common problem just about anywhere that has pumps. If you’re looking to increase reliability in your facility, finding and fixing pipe strain issues is a great place to start.
According to a recent Pumps and Systems article, pipe strain can be caused by “misalignment between the pump suction and discharge flanges and the corresponding pipe flange connections. Unacceptable pipe strain can be defined as any forces from unanchored piping that will cause equipment deformation of more than .002-in.”
There are 4 common reasons for pipe strain:
Pipe strain is a big deal for pumps. It’s such a big deal, we’ve got it down as our #1 killer in our eBook 36 Ways To Kill Your Pump. Pipe strain causes misalignment, and misalignment brings on a myriad of issues, like increased vibration, premature seal and bearing failures, and increased power consumption. Pipe strain causes other issues like:
So how can you avoid pipe strain and increase the life of your pumps? Use proper planning and installation techniques.
Pipe strain is a leading cause of premature pump failure, and should be the number one item to correct in your system. Doing so will allow you to get ahead of unplanned failures, downtime, and repetitive failures.
Need help to correct pipe strain and misalignment in your facility? Ask us about it! We gladly provide technical assistance to businesses and municipalities in Wisconsin and upper Michigan.