Noisy, Vibrating, Centrifugal Pump? Maybe The Pump Isn't To Blame

Author: Vern Frahm | June 19, 2014 | Category: Equipment Maintenance, Pumps, Troubleshooting

installationStartUpLGWhen a centrifugal pump stops delivering sufficient pressure, breaks down frequently, or vibrates at high levels, it’s easy to blame the pump. Frequently system problems are misdiagnosed as pump problems because the pump is the one making the noise or underperforming. But to solve performance issues at the ground level, maintenance and engineering must take a look at the bigger picture.

A change in the system can have a major effect on the performance of your pumps. So before you assume the pump is to blame, make sure you have all the facts. 

Develop a Clear, Concise, Objective Statement of the Problem

When troubleshooting centrifugal pumps, the first step is to develop a clear, concise and objective statement of the problem. Try to set preconceived ideas of what could be wrong aside. To properly diagnose the problem, base your statement on facts that are accurate and unbiased. 

Use the resources available to you to gather as much information about the pump as possible:

  • Field Measurements
    • Pressure
    • Flow
    • Power draw
    • Temperature
    • Pump vibration levels
    • Performance curves
    • Instruction manuals
  • Basic pump information
    • Model
    • Size
    • Serial number
    • Impeller diameter

Determine if Problem is Hydraulic or Mechanical

Using the information you’ve collected, determine if your problem is hydraulic or mechanical. A hydraulic problem has the following symptoms:

  • No liquid delivered
  • Insufficient capacity delivered
  • Insufficient pressure delivered
  • Intermittent flow

A mechanical problem exhibits these symptoms:

  • Bearings have regular failures/run hot
  • Higher than normal vibration levels
  • Pump consumes excessive energy
  • Short packing life
  • Mechanical seals have high failure rate
  • Wetted parts wear quickly

Investigate What May Be Causing Poor Pump Performance

Once you’ve determined if your issue is mechanical or hydraulic, use the chart below to determine what could be causing your pump to perform poorly. You may just find that it wasn’t the pump’s fault after all.

Download the chart as a PDF

Centrifugal Pump Troubleshooting Guide


Have additional questions about what’s going on with your system? Ask us about it! We gladly provide technical assistance to businesses in Wisconsin and upper Michigan.

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Vern Frahm

Vern Frahm

Vern was an integral part of the Service and Repair Group at Crane Engineering. With over 40 years logged at Crane, he was a sought after trainer for our customers. As of 2015, Vern has retired. :)

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