Why Precision Pump Installation is Critical

Choosing the right type of pump for your specific application is critical. For the best possible performance, you want the proper size, coating materials, and system configurations. In addition, proper training and preventative maintenance will help maintain performance and extend the equipment’s lifespan.

Unfortunately, the initial equipment installation is often glossed over, though this is a critical aspect of purchasing and operating a new pump system. Neglecting to install with precision and care will come back to haunt you.

A poorly installed pump system will give you unending headaches. Any slight misalignment, loose fittings, or uneven footing is a snowball effect. Before long, you are having performance issues and significant mechanical damage can occur. The necessary repairs and aggregate downtime can cost you more in the long run, avoided by professionally installing the equipment in the first place.

Here is DXP Cortech’s step-by-step guide to pump installation:

1.It Starts with a Foundation

You need a solid foundation when installing new pump equipment or retrofitting old systems. Whether the pump needs to be mobile or stationary, it needs sound footing to operate appropriately. The general rule of thumb in the pump industry is to have a foundation size three to five times the total mass of the pump and driver combined.

2. Install the Base

The base for the pump equipment needs to provide a perfect level alignment and sturdy footing, so a standard carpenter’s level won’t do. Instead, use a precision ground flat bar and feeler gauges to “level” in the field with tolerances within 0.002 to 0.00g inches per foot in multiple directions. Set the axial before considering custom baseplates for specialized installations. Any pre-fabricated units may not provide a “one size fits all solution” and can result in what’s known as “soft foot” since one or more footing points of the machine casing is not securely connected or aligned with the baseplate.

3. Install the Pump and Driver

Once the baseplate is perfectly level, you can install the pump and the driver. Ideally, the pump should be placed directly on the base. Using shims to provide leveling at this point is not recommended, unless specified by the OEM design.

4. Lubricate

Use the recommended lubricant or oil and fill the pump bearing housing(s) to the proper amount. There shouldn’t be any guesswork here. OEM specifications outline what is required for optimal pump operation.

5. First Alignment Check

At this point, you can perform the first of multiple alignment checks. First, ensure the baseplate is still level and mounts are secure, with the shaft and motor appropriately aligned. It is essential to perform this first alignment check before taking the next step because it is hard to backtrack and fix things after this point.

6. Grout the Base

Add grout to create complete and solid contact between the base and foundation. The top surface of the foundation and underside of the baseplate should be prepared as needed to bond with the grout or epoxy. Machinery may not respond well to vibrations and pipe strain if there is a filure to grout of weak grouting. Eventually, minor imperfections will occur, leading to more significant problems down the line.

7. Install the Piping

Before this point in the process, there should be no piping completed within 10 feet of the pump. From there, install the piping starting from the pump and outward to ensure the best alignment. Piping from another area to the pump is often a recipe for disaster.

8. Second Alignment Check

With the base grouted and the piping installed, alignment will likely have shifted, making this an ideal time for your second major alignment check to correct any misalignments you find before going further in the process. You can use laser alignment tools or old-fashioned manual methods like double-reverse to ensure proper alignment. You will also want to check for pipe strain on both the suction and discharge ends of the pump—correct all alignment issues at this stage.

9. Check the Rotational Direction

Test the rotation of the driver and determine the rotor electrical center (running center). For optimal results, use the electrical run center distance, not the mechanical distance. For equipment with larger motors and sleeve-type bearings, measure both the electrical and mechanical center. You may even want to conduct this test before the second alignment check on certain rotating equipment.

10. Check the Pump Settings

To ensure everything is configured correctly and that the unit rotates freely, carefully examine the pump settings. Look at the impeller axial adjustments, clearances, mechanical seal settings, balance drum settings, bearing lift, and rotor centralization.

11. Ancillary Equipment and Coupling

With your driver and pump in perfect alignment, now you can precisely install any ancillary equipment and coupling to desired specifications.

12. Pre-Startup and First Startup

Fill and vent the pump system before starting it, immediately stopping if anything is misaligned. After the pump runs for a short time, recheck all the key alignment indicators to see if anything as shifted during operation. If so, make the necessary corrections and keep testing until the equipment is operating at optimal efficiency.

Although additional small steps should occur with larger procedures, remember that you should never overlook how essential proper pump installation and alignment are. Shoddy installation can lead to major problems and equipment failure.

For help with your pump selection and installation needs, contact DXP Cortech today. We’ll make sure the job is done right from the start!