October 2003

Engineering Case Histories

Case 17: Wreck of a centrifugal pump

Understanding the entire flow system is important when determining the cause of a failure

Sofronas, A., Consulting Engineer

Several readers have remarked that troubleshooting looks easy, since it can be done on one page. Nothing is further from the truth. It's simple to make a solution look easy when the answer is known. This example took one month of interviews with personnel, data history reviews, plant walk-throughs, schematic reviews and presentations to an irate plant manager. High-visibility failures are never easy and a highly reliable plant requires much more than just good troubleshooting skills.1 Centrifugal pumps are plentiful in many industries and are usually quite reliable, with only sporadic seal, bearing, motor and coupling pr

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