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Diaphragm pump troubleshooting : Common problems

Jun. 13, 2023

To ensure the safe operation and longevity of the pump and to form part of a planned preventive maintenance program, it is recommended that the pump is inspected both routinely and thoroughly. Routine checks can identify problems by frequently observing the pump in operation.

There may be many initial signs of diaphragm pump troubleshooting, for example, if your pump runs with a change in sound, this may indicate worn parts, leaks, or a change in performance. The interval between full inspections depends on the operating conditions of the pump. The characteristics of the fluid, the temperature, the materials used in the pump, a and the time of operation determine how often a full inspection is required.

Nevertheless, GK recommends that customers have their pumps checked at least once a year.

As part of this check, air and fluid kits should be replaced and valve kits should be replaced every 2 years. gk recommends stocking at least one fluid air kit to ensure costly downtime is avoided.

1 Inch Sanitary Pneumatic Diaphragm Pump (FDA)

1 Inch Sanitary Pneumatic Diaphragm Pump (FDA)

Diaphragm pump troubleshooting: common problems

Your pump will not run

The air pressure is too low: the air supply pressure needs to be higher than 1.2 bar and greater than the system pressure at which the pump is operating. Use an air filter regulator to adjust the air supply pressure. Ensure that the main air supply pressure is sufficient to meet your requirements.

  • Clogged air connection or contaminated air valve: Check your air supply, is it clean and free from any obstructions or kinks? In addition, check that your air valve is not contaminated inside the pump.

  • Blocked silencer or exhaust pipe: This means that the pump is not able to discharge air efficiently, which directly affects the diaphragm pump's ability to operate. Check that there are no obstructions in the pump exhaust port and that the pump muffler is in good condition.

  • Solids in the pump chamber: Solids deposited in the pump chamber or pump body can prevent the diaphragm from moving and thus prevent the pump from operating. Solid particles can also be deposited around the ball valve seat, which can prevent the ball valve from re-seating correctly, resulting in poor performance or even stopping the pump from working. Clean the pump and install a suitably sized filter in the pump suction port to prevent clogging inside the pump.

  • Damaged diaphragms or ball valves: Damaged, cracked, or deformed diaphragms and ball valves can reduce the efficiency of diaphragm pumps. This can be addressed by regularly checking the condition of the diaphragm and ball valve, and it is important to carry out these checks regularly to extend the life of the pump.

  • Blocked suction or discharge piping: This will prevent your pump from working properly and may cause it to stall. Check the position of the pump's suction and discharge manual valves regularly and perform this before turning the pump on to ensure it is not under pressure. Cleaning the pipework is also recommended if operating on particularly viscous or solids-laden fluids, as these types of process media can quickly reduce the bore of the pipework and alter the system pressure requirements, thereby impairing the pump's performance.

    Stainless Steel Diaphragm Pump

Stainless Steel Diaphragm Pump

Further troubleshooting diaphragm pump failure causes

Fluid leaking from the pump

This is definitely not true and here are some possible causes of this condition and ways to check and correct it:

  • Loose side housing: The pump is clamped between approximately 6 tie rods and if these are not tightened to the recommended torque setting, fluid may leak from the side housing.

  • Damaged O-Ring: If the O-Ring on the pump inlet or outlet manifold has been damaged or broken, this may indicate that the installation was not reassembled correctly after maintenance, or it may be caused by forcing the manifold into position without loosening the side housing in the first place, which can deform the O-Ring.

  • Diaphragm rupture: Causes of diaphragm failure or rupture include overuse, wear, and tear, chemical attack or overpressure to name a few. A rupture means that fluid will leak into the air valve and through the pump's silencer. The diaphragm will need to be replaced and should be checked regularly for wear during maintenance checks to prevent this from happening.

  • Plumbing problems: If your pump is not matched to rigid piping, for example, with insufficient pulsation dampers or more load than the manifold allows, the pump may loosen and cause leaks. Ensure that the pump has been matched to your installation and adjust accordingly to relieve stress on the pipework and the pump. This can be achieved by installing hoses and/or installing pulsation dampers at the suction and discharge of the pump.

    3 Inches PVDF Diaphragm Pump

3 Inches PVDF Diaphragm Pump

  • Worn or clogged balls/seats: this will cause fluid to circulate in the pump and return through the siphon, resulting in a drop in flow and pressure.

  • Damaged diaphragms: a damaged or bent diaphragm will directly affect the flow and pressure produced by the pump.

  • Air leaks or supply changes: As compressed air is the driving force behind the AODD, any changes in the quality, flow, and pressure of the air supply will have a direct impact on the performance of the pump. Routine checks to ensure there are no air leaks, pressure, or flow variations are therefore required to ensure good operational performance and reliability. It is also recommended that the condition of the air filter and moisture separator on the air supply line be checked to ensure that the air quality of the pump is adequate.

  • Changes in suction or discharge pressure: If the pipework is scaled or leaking, this will affect the performance of the diaphragm pump. It is recommended to periodically check the integrity of the connections for possible leaks or air ingress and the cleanliness/condition of the lines, as well as the valve positioning and suction and discharge pressure gauges to ensure that the system pressure remains within the operating parameters of the pump.

  • Blocked or worn air valves or silencers: Damage, corrosion, or dirt on the air valves can affect the function of the diaphragm pump. In addition, if the silencer is clogged, the pump cannot discharge air effectively, which means that the pump cannot operate efficiently. Monitor the performance of the pump, take preventive maintenance measures, and monitor the condition of the pump silencer to ensure reliable pump operation.

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