Laboratory work requires precision and relies on the integrity of every instrument and tool used to conduct experiments or tests.
In the lab, technicians might use vacuum pumps for any number of jobs, including providing suction for the filtration of liquid or suspended samples, or inducing solvent evaporation by reducing vapor pressure. No matter the application, the success of a great deal of laboratory work depends on the reliability of the lab’s vacuum pump system.
The Risks of Faulty or Old Vacuum Pumps
In a lab setting where techs need to conduct tests in a safe and timely manner, a failing vacuum pump can threaten the entire process.
Even working vacuum pumps, when used improperly, can pose a number of safety hazards to users. Learning to use pumps safely is part of the training lab techs undergo.
Poorly functioning vacuum pumps, on the other hand, are almost always unpredictable, untrustworthy, and unsafe. With oil-based vacuum pumps, you can even experience safety issues like off-gassing as a byproduct of contaminated pump oil.
A faulty or poorly working vacuum pump can create unnecessary hurdles and delays for testing samples.
Labs working with rotary vane pumps may need to be removed from the system for days or weeks if an oil issue arises. Having the pump refurbished can take up to six weeks, resulting in at least as much downtime for the lab.
4 Signs That You Need a New Pump
At some point, your existing pump will become more of a liability than an asset. There’s a good chance the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your vacuum pump is well beyond an acceptable level.
That said, it’s not always easy to tell when a vacuum pump is about ready to give out. Here are a few signs that it’s time to upgrade to a new one.
1. You Can’t Meet End Pressure
When a vacuum pump is wearing out, you may notice end pressure issues in your processes. In some cases, this can prevent processes from being completed.
The most straightforward method for checking end pressure is to use a pressure gauge, read out pressure, and then deadhead your pump to determine how long it takes to get to pressure. Leaks can also create end pressure inadequacies, a problem you can detect through the deadheading process as well.
2. Your Pump Oil Is Discolored
Healthy oil is clear, usually light in color, and free from particulates. Check your oil regularly. Dark-colored or black oil can indicate pump issues.
3. You Notice Excessive Vibration
If your pump excessively vibrates, you may notice it through basic observation, but sometimes the vibration is more subtle. Excessive vibration can contribute to an adverse effect on your processes and should be considered when you’re investigating why a process has failed to complete.
4. There’s an Increase or Change in Noise Levels
When a pump you’ve been using for a long period of time seems to sound “off,” it’s time to investigate why. Well-performing pumps should not make loud, out-of-sync sounds. You might suspect a problematic noise level if lab techs are wearing hearing protection or headphones to block out the noise.
Dry Pump Technology Improves Lab Functions
Realistically, it is difficult for many labs to take proper care of oil-based pumps. Routine oil changes may not be a priority in a busy lab, and often, onsite maintenance technicians are not familiar with the equipment.
Dry compressing vacuum technology takes oil out of the equation altogether. Systems like the Leybold ECODRY offer true “set it and forget it” benefits and impressive energy efficiency.