Why You Should Use Mechanical Seals Instead of Packing

If your business uses industrial pumps, you may be wondering about the difference between packing and mechanical seals. Sure, packing might be cheaper and mechanical seals are a bit more complex, but there are some excellent reasons why mechanical seals are the superior option for your industrial pump. 

Why Industrial Pumps Need to Be Sealed

To understand why an industrial pump needs to be sealed, it’s vital to comprehend some of the basics of centrifugal pump operations. Fluid enters a centrifugal pump through one side, where the rotating impeller is located. The vanes of the impeller fill with fluid as it rotates, then force the fluid out from the pump casing toward the discharge area. 

Unfortunately, the pressure created in the pump can force fluid behind the impeller, where it can try to exit the pump through the rotating drive shaft. Through superior pump design, some of this activity can be minimized but not stopped completely. With that said, the pump needs some type of sealing to stop this leakage. 

What Is Packing?

Packing has long been the method commonly used to seal rotating equipment like industrial pumps. It’s the original form of sealing and remains widely used. Natural fiber products and old rope material were once packed around a shaft to reduce leakage. Now more customized solutions and products are available, which are designed for less wear and friction. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Packing

Whether you use packing now or are considering it, here are some benefits and drawbacks of this approach for your industrial pump. 

Benefits of Packing

  • Lower upfront cost than mechanical seals
  • Ready availability of materials
  • Depending on expertise, can be self-installed and maintained

Drawbacks of Packing

  • Requires more frequent maintenance than mechanical seals
  • Allows more product loss than mechanical seals
  • Safety, sanitation, and environmental concerns
  • Excess power and water consumption
  • Overall, an inefficient means of sealing an industrial pump

What Are Mechanical Seals for Industrial Pumps?

Mechanical seals are an alternative to packing for industrial pumps. These devices consist of a rotary seal face with a driving mechanism that is designed to rotate at the same speed as the pump shaft and a fixed seal face that fits the rotary to prevent leakage. The seal assembly also includes o-rings or static sealing gaskets. Due to their unique design, the pump’s shaft is able to spin, but gas or liquid can’t flow through the seal. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Mechanical Seals

Mechanical seals were initially created to deal with some of the shortcomings of stuffing boxes used with packing. Over time, these options are seeing more widespread use due to their benefits. Here are some of the benefits and a few drawbacks of using mechanical seals for your industrial pump. 

Benefits of Mechanical Seals

  • Long service life — A typical mechanical seal will last multiple years, compared to just a few months for packing. 
  • Wide application range — Mechanical seals can be used for sealing at high or low temperatures, high pressure, various speeds, and a variety of corrosive media. 
  • Good vibration resistance — Mechanical seals aren’t sensitive to vibration or the deflection of the rotating shaft in the sealed cavity. 
  • Requires less energy — When installed in your industrial pump, mechanical seals consume less energy than packing, which is a cost-saver. 
  • Less product loss — Mechanical seals work better at sealing industrial pumps than packing, so there will be fewer issues with product loss. 
  • Less product dilution — When you have less product loss, you also have lower product dilution issues, which can impact quality. 
  • Improved safety — An industrial pump that isn’t working efficiently is less safe. Mechanical seals enable a business to optimize performance by minimizing leaks and improving overall safety. 
  • Environmental considerations — There is less concern about environmental contamination, so there are fewer worries about EPA and other violations. 
  • Easier housekeeping — When your industrial pump is leaking, it’s going to make a mess. Your employees will spend unnecessary time on housekeeping chores. This type of work is minimized with mechanical seals. 

Drawbacks of Mechanical Seals

  • Higher upfront cost than packing
  • Equipment must be pulled offline and disassembled for installation
  • Plant personnel working with seals must be trained in order to achieve maximum seal life

Which Is Better for Industrial Pumps?

If your business uses industrial pumps, mechanical seals are the clear winner. They are the most effective, durable, and long-lasting sealing option for a wide variety of pumps. This method of sealing can reduce leakage and valuable product loss.

Even when you don’t believe you have a leak using packing, it’s possible, and even likely the pump is experiencing some leakage, which presents an environmental, health, and safety hazard. Financially, mechanical seals can help you prevent the loss of valuable products and unexpected downtime and repairs. 

Contact C&B Equipment for All of Your Industrial Pump Needs

Now that you have more information about why you should use mechanical seals for your industrial pump, you’re in a position to take better care of your equipment. Whether your business is in the market for a new industrial pump or would like to get the best performance out of its existing equipment, we can help.

C&B Equipment offers a wide range of industrial pumps and mechanical seals that can handle a variety of processes and applications. Our team also offers service, repairs, and preventative maintenance to improve your uptime, productivity, and profitability. 

C&B provides services throughout Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, and the Texas Panhandle. We serve clients in a variety of industries. For more information about our products and services, contact us today.

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