The most common cause of pump equipment failure is lubrication contamination. When lubricants become contaminated by outside elements such as water, the damage can be catastrophic. Problems can also occur when lubricants are old, corroded, or dry. Therefore, it is key to maintain your lubrication and make sure lubricants are kept clean, dry, and free of contaminants.
Begin by using the proper oil seal or bearing isolator before monitoring and maintain the bearing seal. This will make a difference for your industrial equipment in so many ways. Here are 4 benefits of an effective bearing isolator:
- Efficient Operation
Varying machines and equipment components require unique bearing seals, which utilize centrifugal force to expel any contaminants that have entered efficiently. Problems arise when equipment is shut down and as air enters from the outside to maintain proper equilibrium. This air can contain dust and moisture that can ultimately affect the bearing in between operations. A well-balanced bearing isolator can minimize this issue, though it should be checked carefully after prolonged periods of inoperation.
- Expelling Outside Contaminants
As aforementioned, the primary purpose of a bearing isolator is to expel contaminants during equipment operation. Isolators keep dust, debris, moisture, and other contaminants out of the bearing. Without a good bearing isolator, the contaminants will accumulate, the seal will weaken, and the lubrication will be compromised. Eventually, the bearing will fail and potentially cause significant damage to other equipment components.
- Preventing Lubrication Leaks
All seals work to accomplish specific goals. First, as you keep external contaminants out, you simultaneously keep healthy lubricating fluid or grease in the proper places. A lack of lubrication because of a leak can be just as damaging as contaminated lubrication.
- Specialized Designs
A majority of rotating drives will be okay with a standard bearing isolator. However, specific equipment will perform best and last longer with a specialized bearing isolator design. Here are some examples:
Gearboxes—Most gearboxes operate beneath the equipment, putting them at greater risk of contamination if any leakage should occur. A more robust seal may be required. Gearbox lubrication systems can vary, so a specialized seal may be worthwhile depending on the type of lubrication used (flooded, bath, splash, or forced).
Steam Turbines—Turbines operate at extreme temperatures and the steam can present significant sealing challenges. A specialized bearing isolator for steam turbines are recommended.
Pillow Blocks—Pillow block assemblies generally have very tight bearing fittings. Having clean oil is very important to prevent problems, which is why specialized bearing isolators are available.
Flange-Mounted Bearings—Pressing the stator is not possible (or recommended) with a flange-mounted bearing system. The bearings are designed to minimize the axial load. A specialized bearing isolator is almost always best for flange-mounted bearings.
What can be said about bearing isolators also applies to mechanical seals and other specialized sealing solutions. The stock seals that come with your equipment are a great start but not a long-term solution. There are situations where specialized bearing isolators are required, especially in very challenging applications or environments.
For help with selecting the right bearing isolators and other sealing solutions for your pump system and equipment, contact DXP Pacific today. Let us help you prevent leaks and contamination in order to keep your system running its best for many years to come.