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Safeguard your Pumps this Winter

Posted: 15/01/2018
Category: Pump Maintenance

Winter is here! Are your centrifugal pump ready to tackle the cold weather? Here are all that you need to know about keeping your pumps winterized and operable even at sub-zero temperatures! Whether you use an industrial pump to move sea-water or operate a small, centrifugal pump in your house, the challenge remains the same – protecting your equipment from the harsh conditions of winter. Without proper measures, your pumps can freeze making it inoperable during the winter months, or it can even lead to permanent damage. Thermal shock, freeze-and-thaw issues are some of the problems you have to face this season. What happens when your Pump System freezes during winter? Let’s take a look at the science behind this. Water and other liquids expand as they freeze. When this occurs, your pumps cannot handle the additional volume due to the frozen water. This leads to the ice breaking the pipes or other parts of the pump system. The good news is that – with just a few precautionary measures and careful operation, you can protect your equipment as the temperatures fall. Here are a few steps to help you protect your equipment even in extremely cold conditions:

  1. Protect your pumps, pipes and other equipment from the cold elements
Bearings, valves and mechanical seals are highly vulnerable and are easily damaged when operated in freezing weather. The best way to protect them is by housing your entire pumping unit in a heated shelter. If this isn’t possible, the next best solution is to protect your centrifugal pump equipment from the elements by using an appropriate heat source like a heating lamp or others, to increase the temperature of the lubricating oil, bearing assembly and pump casing, before starting your pump. This ensures that all the vital parts are operable. Check out with your pump engineer to identify the best sources of heat for this job. Whatever you do, make sure that you don’t stop the flow of the slurry during winter. If possible keep your pumps running continuously with a small amount of water. This is because running water is not likely to freeze.
  1. Avoid freezing during Shutdown periods
If you’re going to cease operations during the winter months, then ensure that your centrifugal pump system is entirely free of water. This is because any water that remains inside is likely to get frozen, thereby expanding and resulting in damage. Some types of pumps come with in-built plugs to accommodate periodical stops. You have to remove the piping and pump the casing before you shut-down the system. Alternatively, you can install a dump valve in the piping system at the lowest point and use it to drain water out of the system. Whichever method you choose, make sure not to forget the input/output lines and the stuffing box.
  1. Drain the water from the system
If you have a centrifugal or jet pump, which you won’t be using during the cold winter months, then draining the system completely is the best way to protect your pump. To drain water from the system, start by opening a tap or by removing the drain plug on top of the pump case. This lets in air into the system. You can then remove the drain plug at the bottom. Don’t forget that water tends to accumulate in the discharge pipes and suction tubes. Blow out this water with the help of air compressor. The last step is to remove traces of water stuck in the pump casing. Make use of food-grade propylene glycol for this purpose. Never use RV anti-freeze (ethylene glycol) as it’s hazardous. Make sure that you replace the removed drain plugs before you add propylene glycol into the system. Start by fixing the bottom drain plug. Then pour the propylene glycol in the top opening of the casing. Fix the top drain plug.
  1. Do an oil check
The bearings of your pump require special attention in winter. This is because; any condensation or moisture trapped in the bearings will turn to ice, preventing smooth movements in the assembly and could lead to untimely failure or even permanent damage. Make it a point to change the CBA oil before the onset of winter. Ensure that you have the right oil that suits the surrounding temperatures. Nowadays, synthetic oils are more preferred when compared to traditional mineral oils. This is because synthetics offer better lubrication even at extreme temperatures.
  1. Get your V-Drives and Pneumatics in order
It’s a good practice to install new belts for your V-drives before the onset of winter. This way you don’t have to replace worn out belts when it’s freezing outside. If the isolation valves in your pumps are pneumatically actuated, ensure that your air-dryer is performing optimally.
  1. Lastly, operate with extra care
When running your pumps in winter, make sure that you devote some extra attention. Take the time to start your system correctly. Don’t run it in a hurry, as you’re likely to make mistakes that way. Make sure that your pump casing is brought to operable temperature gradually to avoid thermal shocks. You can do this with the help of an external heat source. Make sure that the stuffing box has a constant supply of water. This water must be heated or insulated. Additionally, the flush water must be completely drained to prevent ice from building up. The Bottom Line Make use of these six tips to keep your pump systems working even during extreme winter. If you aren’t sure how to protect your pumps, get in touch with our pump care experts, who provide you with professional service. Additionally, if harsh winter is the norm in your area, then it’s better to invest in pumps that are designed for extreme weather. To check out all the available options, get in touch with Sintech, the leading manufacturers of centrifugal pump and all other types of industrial pumps in India. Drop in a line at or give us a call at +91-120-4176000 to get started.

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