vacuum pump repair

5 vacuum pump maintenance tips to optimize productivity

September 6, 2019


The importance of vacuum pump maintenance

There are currently a wide variety of rough vacuum pumps available to suit a variety of applications. For decades, oil-sealed pumps were considered the go-to workhorse and continue to dominate in most markets, but more and more applications are recognizing the benefits of dry vacuum pumps in both cost of ownership and performance.

Dry compression vacuum pumps are an outstanding choice in many applications as they require far less maintenance than their oil sealed counterparts, and can offer improved performance, energy efficiency and reliability. No matter what type of pump your organization uses, optimizing productivity to minimize downtime is a must. 

You can get the most out of the investment in your pump and maximize its useful life by performing some regular maintenance on the unit. When it comes to preventative maintenance, many of these items you can do in-house and can save you from huge potential headaches down the road.

The more time and attention you put into the maintenance of your vacuum pump, the less you'll need to worry about costly repairs and replacement. But who has time to babysit their pumps? Here are the top five maintenance tips you can put on your list. 

Related: Find the Leybold range of dry compression vacuum pumps in our online catalog

1. Inspect the surrounding environment

Vacuum pumps require the right conditions to operate at their best. In the worst conditions, they have a greater chance of breaking down and creating a gridlock in your operations.

The airflow around your pump can be critical to its optimal performance. When the pump was first installed, the airflow might have been excellent. Check this frequently for any changes.

Are there any other contaminants in the area - vapors, solvents, acid - that could be of concern? If so, determine whether they are impacting your pump's integrity and performance.

Changing weather can also be an issue. If you're near an outside wall or running heat in the building, condensation can build up in your pump and create problems. The ambient temperature in the surrounding environment is essential. 

2. Conduct a visual pump inspection

Most vacuum pumps come equipped with a sight glass. This makes frequent visual inspection of the oil inside the pump a simple matter.

Clean oil will appear about the same color as vegetable oil, which is nearly opaque. As the oil collects contaminants, it will get darker. Highly contaminated oil will be dark brown or even black. By the time it turns this color, the integrity of your pump may be compromised, and it could need off-site servicing.*

Visual inspection is not just about the pump itself, but the area around the pump. Do you see oil or water leaking in the area around the pump? Have you been going through more rags or sorbents than usual? These could be signs that an issue is on the horizon.

Beyond a visual inspection, other signs that it's time to perform some maintenance on your pump include unusual sounds coming from the unit or a drop in performance. 

Related: Book a free Health Check for your Leybold Pumps. Click the button below to set up an inspection of your vacuums systems, onsite at your facility.

3. Do regular oil & filter changes

According to Blower and Vacuum Best Practices, dry pumps typically require an oil change in the gearbox about once per year. You may need to do this twice annually for heavy usage. In comparison, an oil-sealed pump could require an oil and filter change up to monthly depending on their usage and application.

This is also the proper time to check and change oil filters if equipped. When in doubt about the process, parts to use, or timing of oil and filter changes for your vacuum pump, refer to the owner's manual for your specific model or contact the manufacturer.

Additionally, our SP630/250 Screwline pumps are air-cooled with a radiator. These oil coolers can plug externally from dust and debris, requiring regular inspections and cleanings as needed.

You wouldn’t drive your car 3 or 4 times past its oil life or with a clogged radiator, but all too often we see lack of oil changes, and clogged radiators which can cause catastrophic pump failures like overheating.

Related: Time for an oil change? Find our range of oils, greases and lubricants here. 

4. Perform leak testing

By leak testing your pump system periodically after it's been installed, you can ensure that there is a vacuum-tight seal though the various connections. Eliminating these leaks can prolong the life of your pump and improve the quality of the work it produces. 

Keeping foreign elements out of your vacuum pump is critical. This includes debris, moisture, and oxygen, which are all contaminants that can compromise the integrity of your unit and reduce its effectiveness.

Related: Get our eBook on The Fundamentals of Leak Detection for more on this topic. 

5. Create some leeway in your process

Every pump requires maintenance and downtime to operate at peak performance. Ignoring this fact is asking for trouble, and you'll likely find that your pump quits on you at the worst possible time for your business.

Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, a better plan is to build some leeway into your process. Have a spare pump on hand that can pick up some of the slack while you perform routine maintenance, or while the pump is sent to the OEM for additional work.

Pump efficiency is essential to the successful operation of your business. When your vacuum pump fails or is down for repairs, your entire operation might be at a standstill if you don't have a backup on hand.

While some of these simple maintenance tasks can be done in-house, others can be more involved or accomplished faster by a professional. Leybold has local field service technicians on hand that can visit your location and deliver expert customer service, minimizing your downtime.

And if your vacuum pump needs repairs, Leybold can help with that as well. We'll even look up your warranty coverage to see if it is still active. Our team can make recommendations for improvements to your set-up as well as maintenance plans to ensure you are getting the most value and productivity out of your vacuum pump. Contact us now to learn more.

 *LVO210 (Ester oil) color is not as much a determining factor as our LVO210 (Hydrocarbon Oil) that can be dark and still be fine.

The above is intended only as a guide and is not a substitute for reading the operational manual. Always read the operational manual.

Leak Detection - banner

Leak detector 101

Download our e-Book "Fundamentals of Leak Detection" to discover leak detection essentials and techniques.

Leybold employee

Let's talk

We focus on customer proximity. Contact us for all your questions.

Contact us