The vacuum pump is the heart of any vacuum truck; without one, nothing happens. This part is hard-working yet also delicate – and needs to be properly maintained. It is important to understand how a vacuum works and what should be done to keep it working in order to gain maximum efficiency and productivity.
How It Works
Creating a vacuum in a truck tank is actually fairly simple. When the pump is turned on, the interior vanes begin spinning at a very high rate of speed, pulling air out of the tank and releasing it outside through the exhaust port. The vanes inside the device are made with seals to prevent air from flowing back into the pump during spinning, keeping pressure building inside the tank.
Because air is removed faster than it can flow back in through a hose, a vacuum is created once enough inward pressure has built up in the tank. When that happens, the tank’s pressure is strong enough to suck up whatever is at the end of the hose – within reason of course. The right size and strength pump will create enough vacuum for certain tank and truck applications; higher pressure would require stronger, larger pumps.
When vacuum trucks fail to suction, chances are there is a problem with the pump as it is the most likely place for something to go wrong. Thankfully, there are only a few reasons why vacuum pumps would fail to create a vacuum, which at least makes troubleshooting relatively simple.
- Valves – The first components to inspect are the check valves; they maintain tank pressure while the unit is running and release pressure if it becomes too high. Valves that are broken or cannot be sealed are useless; air will flow in while the vacuum is sucking it out, leaving either a weak or non-existent vacuum.
- Other Pump Parts – If the check valves are working properly, the pump will have to be taken apart to look inside. Then it should be easy to see whether or not the vanes are in good condition with working seals. All gaskets and bearings should be checked, since any slight wear or defect could prevent the pump from running correctly. In order to successfully create a vacuum, the bearings must be able to move freely and all gaskets and vanes must be in good condition.
Proper Maintenance for Long Life
Vacuum pumps are replaceable parts on vacuum trucks; however, they are expensive to replace. The only way to ensure a full life for these pumps is by taking excellent care of them. Fluid or debris should not get into the pump, so periodic maintenance would involve inspecting the interior parts and being sure all valves still work as desired. If any wear is noted on interior parts and vanes in particular, they should be replaced. It is not difficult to rebuild the interior of a pump, saving a great amount of money versus replacing the whole unit or continuing to miss jobs due to mechanical problems.
It is always a good idea to keep a spare pump rebuild kit handy for quick fixes to minimize down time. As long as vacuum truck pumps are regularly inspected, kept free of fluid and dirt, and rebuilt when necessary, there should be few problems. This is important information about vacuum trucks to know and remember!
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