By Daniel Hodges, Pumps and Controls Director, Irrigation Technical Services, Inc. (ITS)
It is very important to service your pump station. Let me say that one more time – IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO SERVICE YOUR PUMP STATION.
The pump station is a vital component of every irrigation system, think of it as the heart of your irrigation system. It draws water from your lake or well, feeding your irrigation mainline to water your sod and plant material.
Irrigation Pump Station Basics
Across the country, people expend a lot of time, effort, and money into installing irrigation pump stations. In Florida, that cost can range from a few thousand dollars to $400,000.00, depending on its size, components, and capabilities.
Irrigation pump stations are no different than your car. Without periodic preventative maintenance, its longevity will decrease. Think about that for a minute. You have made this commitment and investment, not only for the pump station but for the irrigation system (and sod and plant material) as well. You have to protect that investment.
With that being said, it is vital that you routinely test your irrigation pump station. Regular pump station maintenance, conducted by professionals, will reveal any issues with your pump, avoid build-up, and reduce the risk of getting blindsided by an expensive repair down the road.
Without proper pump station maintenance, multiple failures can take place. Let’s take a closer look at the irrigation pump station design.
Without periodic verification of motor amperages, motors can and will fail due to heated connections. It can be very costly to replace motors and the mechanical seal. Motors should also be properly greased at least once a year to prevent failure of bearings.
Variable frequency drives (VFDs) can eventually fail if they are not properly serviced. These failures typically occur when connections heat over time and burn internal components. Once this happens the VFD must be replaced. A VFD controls the speed, torque, and horsepower of the motor.
3) Exposure to Elements
There are times a pump station fails due to exposure to the elements. Internal and external piping can rust, especially in the Florida climate. Without maintenance on your pump station, piping and other components for the pump station will deteriorate over time. If periodic rust mediation is performed, these failures are greatly lessened.
4) Pump Station Protective Devices
Most pump stations have some amount of built-in protection devices for a range of variables such as temperature, low pressure, or loss of prime. These should be tested and verified in operation on a regular basis.
5) Pressure Tanks
The integrity of the pressure tank and the correct air pressure must be checked often. If a pressure tank is not functional, the pump station will experience more cycling and become vulnerable to a loss of prime. Cycling is very detrimental to the pump station. This happens when pumps turn off and on too quickly or too frequently. Loss of prime happens when the pump is operating but there is no water.
6) Centrifugal Stations
There should be certain suction line testing when it’s service time. This prevents restricted pump intakes and air intrusion, which both can cause multiple failures. These are all very expensive repairs.
Overall station performance
All pump stations are comprised of multiple components, which all have to function properly and together. This is even more profound on a pump station with multiple pumps. One failing component or one incorrect adjustment can cause costly repairs to the pump station.
As you can see, protecting your pump station with proper maintenance is critical. The pump station is too important and too expensive to neglect. Depending on the pump station, service can be performed monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. This is a service Irrigation Technical Services provides all over the state of Florida.
Get in touch with an Irrigation Technical Services professional today.