There are a number of steps you and your staff can take to get better results from your spray pump. These simple steps, if followed, can:
- Improve pump performance
- Reduce pump down time
- Extend pump life
1. Pump Selection. Select and use the correct spray pump for your application. Not every pump can be used for every job. Pump selection should be based upon:
- Material to be applied – Generally speaking, herbicides and granular fertilizers are very tough on pumps. The best pumps for these applications are usually Diaphragm or Centrifugal Pumps, which can handle the abrasive materials. Pesticides are usually not as tough on pumps and therefore can be applied with a wider variety of pumps (roller, gear, piston, centrifugal, diaphragm, etc.).
- Desired Pressure & Volume – Higher pressure pumps may be required for applications such tree spraying. Higher volumes may be required to spray large areas quickly. Generally speaking, higher volume and pressure requires a pump that costs more. Diaphragm pumps and roller pumps can supply volume and pressure. Centrifugal pump can provide volume but not much pressure. Get specs & parts breakdowns for your pumps and parts.
- Budget – Obviously your budget is a limiting factor. Generally speaking, diaphragm pumps cost more to purchase than other types of pumps. Be sure to calculate productivity impacts when selecting a pump. For example, a diaphragm pump that provides the volume and pressure to do a job quickly may cost more initially, but pay for itself through improved applicator productivity.
2. Good Filtration Ensure that only water and chemical gets to your pump. Foreign material should be filtered out to reduce the chance of pump damage. A filter that is too coarse may allow debris to pass to the pump. A filter that is too fine may clog too easily and starve the pump. Most pumps will sustain serious damage if not fed properly. If your water is not debris-free, consider additional filtration. Installation of a filter basket on the input side, or two filters (first a course then a fine strainer) may be appropriate.
3. Good Agitation Use of granular or non-soluble products requires good agitation both to ensure the proper ratios of product are applied and to keep the material from clogging lines and starving the pump. The selection of jet versus mechanical agitation will be covered in future articles. Please feel free to contact the author (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
4. Proper Plumbing Ensure your equipment is plumbed properly according to manufacturer specifications. Examples include: – Proper input line size to feed pump, – Clear feed to pump (too many constrictions or turns on the input can place undue stress on pump) – Proper return to tank (many pump manufacturers will not warranty a pump if agitation is on the return line) – Centrifugal pumps require a vent line return to prevent pump damage.
5. Keep Equipment Clean. Clean your tank periodically to remove buildup and debris. Debris will clog lines and starve your pump. You may be surprised at what finds its way into your tank. In our customer’s tanks we have found: rocks, rope, trash and men’s underwear. Flush your system periodically with fresh water.
6. Run Your Equipment Slowly. You can extend life by running your pump at the slowest speed necessary to complete the job. In our experience, applicators tend to run pumps at full pressure to finish the job as quickly as possible. Most pumps are not designed to run at maximum for extended periods. Refer to your pump owner’s manual or contact your equipment supplier for effective operating ranges.
7. Maintain Your Equipment Don’t wait for the pump to fail. Perform preventative maintenance to prevent problems and keep your pump running properly. Consult your owner’s manual. For rigorous users, we recommend rebuilding pumps annually. For example, replace diaphragms annually to prevent more costly repairs.
8. Train Your Staff Ensure your staff knows the proper operating ranges for the pump. Have them check filters and hoses. Ensure they know how to identify problems. For example, a diaphragm pump may still function with burst diaphragms. However, if your staff is trained to check the oil reservoir for contamination, you can keep a diaphragm replacement from becoming a total rebuild or a new pump purchase. Likewise, many pumps, if run dry, quickly become a total loss. Tracking equipment problems by crew, individual or by shift may help identify training opportunities. These simple ideas can help keep your equipment running, your staff productive and your boss happy.
Please let me know what questions you have about spray pump maintenance.