Alfa Laval's pump handbook includes an exhaustive section of possible causes and solutions to most common problems found in pump installation and operation.

In most pumping systems, pumps are likely to be the most vulnerable components. The symptoms frequently show the pump to be at fault regardless of what may be wrong. The problem is usually caused by inadequate control of the pumped fluid or a change in operating requirements of which the system or pump is not capable of handling or a component malfunction.

Alfa Laval Inc., Richmond, Va., offers a 256-page pump manual that covers topics such as pump selection, materials, sizing, sealing and troubleshooting. It suggests that before starting to identify the problem, it is important to gather as much information relating to the process. Answer these questions:

  • What are the original duty conditions? Is the pump operating at them?
  • What has changed in the process since operation was last satisfactory? Consider all factors such as pressure, temperature and fluid viscosity.
  • Was the system undergoing routine maintenance?
  • Were any new or repaired components omitted to be fitted?
  • When was the pump last serviced?
  • What is the appearance and condition of the pump internal components?
  • How long did the pump operate before the problem began?
  • Have there been any changes in pump noise or vibration?
The most common problems -- loss of flow, suction or discharge pressure; excessive noise or vibration; excessive power usage; rapid pump wear; and seal leakage -- usually have as their source changes that you can identify by answering those eight questions.

To get your own copy of the Alfa Laval pump manual, visit