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Keep Your Fire Pumpset Running Like a Champ

Best Practices When it Comes to Service and Maintenance of Fire Pumps

Intro

A fire pump is a key part of your fire protection system, but knowing how to service or maintain your fire pump will keep it running smoothly. As a piece of equipment that is not used on a regular basis, it is vital that the condition of your fire pump and components are tested and serviced regularly. Do this and you will also increase the lifespan of your pump.

If you are uncertain about what to do when it comes to the care of your fire pump, here are some tips which should help you.

1. How often do you need to service your pump?

You should not have to service your pump more than annually or every 40 hours of use. If the pump is running continuously, it should be inspected and serviced every 40 hours of use.

The check valve on a pump should be cleaned and the screen removed and cleaned every year. The check valve is a one-way valve that prevents water from flowing backward through the pump. The screen catches debris from clogging the valve. Inspecting whether there is debris in the hose before each fire season is also important because if there is a fire, you want everything to work. If you have a centrifugal pump, you will need to replace the impeller annually or at least every 40 hours of use.

If you have a turbine pump, you will need to replace the vane assembly every 40 hours of use. The exception to this is if you have a turbine pump with a protective device that prevents it from starting if there is debris in the water. In that case, inspect for debris more frequently, but do not clean or replace any parts except as specified in your instruction manual.

2. What to check for?

The first thing to check if you suspect a pump problem is the electrical connections or stale fuel if diesel driven.

Check the discharge line for leaks. This is done by removing the discharge hose from the product then applying soapy water around all joints and fittings. If bubbles are seen at any point, this is an indication of a leak.

Also check the suction line for leaks, because it could be a vacuum leak causing cavitation in your pump.
The following can all cause cavitation in your pump: Suction line blockage;
Suction line partially blocked;
Suction line partially restricted;
Suction line partially pinched off;
Suction line partially crushed;
Suction line cracked or broken;
Suction line leaking or split;
Suction line loose connection or loose joint;
Suction valve defective or not seating properly; worn suction valve seat liners; worn or damaged impeller blades, excessive load on motor (too much flow), pump running backwards or backwards flow through water meter.”

3. Oil Service

It’s a good idea to change the oil in your fire pump once a year or after 40 hours of operation. You should also check your pump and piping for blockage and leaks. The oil in your fire pump is exposed to very high and low temperatures, and it is pumped through a filter that strains contaminants from the oil. All this hard work takes its toll on the oil, which loses its ability to lubricate and can become gummed up with deposits. If you use inferior oil, you must replace it more often, and you run the risk of damaging your pump or burning out your engine. Check OEM requirements regarding type.
If you don’t know how old your current oil is, or if it has been exposed to water or if it has black or sludgy parts in it, then change it..

4. How to clean your pump?

After servicing your fire pump, it is recommended that you apply a light coating of Lanolin-based anti-corrosion spray (not petroleum-based) on all components, especially any moving parts and bare metals. This will help prevent rust or corrosion from forming which could damage the pump or void the warranty.

5. How Often should I start my pump?

Every six months minimum, by running clean water through it – do not run the pump dry!

6. What else can I do to be prepared?

Always keep your pump covered. Rain or snow can corrode the pump and ruin it. Keeping the pump dry will extend the life of the pump. Make sure your water source is always full. If it isn’t, you could run out of water in the event of an emergency. Keep your pump off the ground and elevated on a suitable, stable base. A firefighter frame kit is the perfect anchor for your pump.

7. When Quality Checking Your Hose and Fittings, What Should You Look For?

Check for leaks, cracks and any bulges in the hose;
Keep out of the sun when not using or deployed;
Retighten all clamps;
Spray moving parts with Lanolin-based anti-corrosion spray;
Check rubber washers are still inserted and not cracked or worn and replace if necessary;
Check for and correct damage to clips, sockets and retaining straps.
To check for leaks: Dry run – turn on tap and start rolling up the hose from one end. If there is a leak, you will hear a hissing sound. If you can’t find the source of the leak, leave water running through the hose overnight. If there is a leak you will see drips on the floor where it came from.

In conclusion

Like any other mechanical equipment, fire pumps require regular maintenance and service to keep them in good working order and prevent major breakdowns and other costly issues. If you own or operate a fire protection system, it’s important to understand how often routine maintenance should be performed and what repairs can be performed by an owner-operator.
Realistically, when it comes to pump service, the best practice is to work with an established fire pumps repair service, like Complete Fire and Pumps. This will help ensure minimal downtime and replacement costs.

Yours In Fire Safety

Alex

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