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To put it simply pumps are the livelihood of your irrigation system. Without a pump, the irrigation system is just a paperweight, and paperweights do not grow crops. There are multiple types of pumps: centrifugal, turbine and submersible. Below are some pump maintenance procedures that we recommend, but always refer to your owner’s manual and follow the original equipment manufacturer’s recommended procedures for your pump.

TURBINE PUMPS

Reduced performance will occur if the following are failed to be maintained:

  • Lateral adjustment - Performance can be significantly improved if impellers are located correctly. This should be done when the pump is set, but after years of running, the lateral adjustment can change. It should be checked per the OEM’s recommendations.
  • Bore conditions - Changes can come forth over time, so: Check the water level and check to make sure there are no signs of air entrapment in the column pipe.
  • Motor Speed - Motor speed can be slowed by overload, low voltage or low frequency in lines.
  • Lubrication - Turbine pumps can either be water-lubricated or oil-lubricated.
    Water lubrication essentially allows the water passing though the pump to keep it lubricated and cooled. If there is cavitation or loss of water, the pump can heat up and lock up or cause bearing damage.
    Oil-lubricated means that while the pump is running, there is a reservoir above-ground that will slowly drip oil down the shaft, lubricating the pump in the well. Bearings are lubricated by the oil in the frame housing. The oil level must be maintained; check and fill it when the pump is not operating. Add oil through the pipe plug opening at the top of the housing and fill to the level indicated. Keep dirt and moisture out. The type and grade of oil used is very important for maintenance-free operation. Follow the original equipment manufacturer’s recommendations.

ALL PUMPS

The following includes maintenance advice that is applicable for all types of pumps.

  • Lubricate electric motor bearings with a hand-operated grease gun only.
  • At the beginning of the season: Start up motor and let it run until surplus grease is expelled.
  • At the end of the season: Pump in grease until old grease is expelled from the relief plug.
  • Follow OEM recommendations for exact frequency. Have a qualified electrician perform electrical maintenance, such as ensuring all electrical connections are secure and not vandalised, checking motor full-load amperage and ensuring it is the same as the nameplate on the motor.
  • Prevent pump backspin and hydraulic shock, which can severely damage the pump and motor, by installing at least one check valve in the discharge pipe.
  • Suction and discharge piping should be anchored, supported and restrained near the pump and motor to avoid excess application of forces and moments. Pump vibration dampening will help achieve optimum operation and minimum noise and vibration.
  • Check all alarm point settings, control and alarm systems. Install undercurrent relays in the power supply lines to prevent excessive drawdown.

Frequently maintained pumps will not only last longer but will stay more efficient as the years go by, providing you with their best performance.