How to keep mechanical seals from breaking

Mechanical seals are pretty robust and durable. But, they’re also easy to break. This sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? The reason why both these statements are true is that mechanical seals, when installed correctly, will do the job they’re supposed to without issue. When installed incorrectly, you’re looking at constant problems. Costly ones. Here’s what to do to prevent your mechanical seals from breaking.

1. Follow the installation instructions

You need to follow the installation instructions as closely as a German engineer. Give them a read first, then start following them one at a time, making sure you don’t miss a single thing, like removing the spacers before starting the pump, for example. If you don’t remove the spacer, it can get stuck in the seal and damage the internal parts of the pump.

2. Check alignment

It’s ridiculously simple to misalign a pump, due to pipe strain, a hard start, shaft runout and many other factors that can occur. Misalignment creates stress for the mechanical seal component, which results in poor function, premature wear and tear and could even cause the pump to fail over time. Again, follow the installation manual like your life depends on it (your pump’s certainly does) and use laser alignment to increase your odds of getting it right from the start.

3. Lubricate well

We believe in lubrication so much, we wrote a 4-part series on it. Mechanical seals just won’t work like they should without proper lubrication. By not using enough lubricant, you can damage the components of the seal, causing them to tear or roll. Make sure you check the installation instructions to see that the lubricant you choose works with the seal components and the pumped fluid.

4. Ensure proper hygiene

The mechanical seal can fail due to tiny amounts of dirt getting on the seal face, or even oil from your fingerprints. These tiny particles or grease can create wear or destroy the seal face itself, which results in leakage.

During installation, make sure that you adhere to hygienic handling protocols such as:

  • Keep seals in their wrapping until you are ready to start the installation
  • Wash and sanitize your hands to make sure they are clean, and dry them carefully
  • Don’t touch or handle the seal faces, and never place them face down
  • Use clean tissue paper on the work bench to prevent any contaminants affecting the seals
  • Clean the seal faces with soft tissue and the specified solvent before installing them
  • Carefully clean areas surrounding the seal

5. Don’t overtighten fasteners

Have you ever noticed a seal starting to leak, and tightened it even further? This is the natural response, but unfortunately, it’s also incorrect. If you over-tighten fasteners, the seal components can become distorted – and will leak even more! Rather, try loosening the fasteners to see if they stop leaking. However, it might be too late for your fasteners as mechanical shock may have already damaged the internal components.

We always tell our customers to take their time, follow the installation guidelines and ensure proper hygiene. If you lubricate well and keep an eye on your fasteners, you’re already well on your way to avoiding mechanical seal failure. For more tips and tricks, read our article on why mechanical seals fail or get to know when mechanical seals are about to fail.

Not sure why your seals keep breaking? Give us a call on 1-800-367-4180 (toll-free). We have experts on hand to help you choose, install, maintain, and monitor a variety of equipment. And to answer questions about things you’ve previously tried gone wrong.