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Michael dismantles a set of damaged vacuum pumps.

Republic came to the aid of a surgery center, this past week. Both vacuum pumps in their duplex central vacuum system failed after being exposed to liquid.

How did these vacuum pumps become exposed to liquid?

You’re probably wondering how or why this surgery center’s pumps came into contact with liquid. Essentially, it was due to a problematic setup. The company that engineered and setup their central vacuum system chose to place an liquid-filled gauge in a particular area that was unfortunately problematic. Once the seal of the gauge broke, the liquid leaked down the plumbing and spread throughout the pump, causing irreversible damage.

Michael works on installing the replacement pumps, a set of VRT 3080 rotary vane vacuum pumps.

The liquid began to act as an adhesive and prevented the pump’s vanes from moving. A dry rotary vane vacuum pump, DOES NOT work without the movement of vanes. At this point, the pump became obsolete and required replacement.

Why was this issue such a big deal for the surgery center?

Well, a duplex system holds two vacuum pumps. Typically, only one will run, at a time. If that pump fails or needs maintenance, the central system will automatically (or manually) switch to the second pump to avoid down-time. For a surgery center, down-time is not an option. Therefore, we knew that it was necessary to act quickly. We made an on-site service call and switched out the broken pumps with a new set of Republic dry rotary vane vacuum pumps (VRT 3080).

Rotary vane pumps consist of a cylindrical housing (1), eccentrically positioned rotor (2), and numerous free-moving vanes (4). The vanes are placed in the slots of the rotor (3) and, as the rotor turns, the centrifugal force throws the vanes against the cylindrical wall, creating a chamber between the rotor and the cylinder (7). The chamber volume changes as the rotor turns. From the inlet port (5), the chamber volume enlarges, and then decreases towards the outlet port (6). As air enters the inlet port (5) and the chamber enlarges (7), the vanes create a vacuum. As the air is pushed through the chamber and it becomes compressed, pressure is produced at the outlet port (6).caused this issue. Once the seal on the gauge broke, the oil leaked out through the plumping and throughout the pump, causing irreversible damage.

How Can I Avoid Having this Happen To My Central Vacuum System?

You should always take precaution to keep liquid out of a dry rotary vane pump. The problem was cause by the liquid-filled gauge. The gauge reads the level of vacuum each pump is producing, therefore, a gauge is necessary. Moreover, liquid-filled gauges are a premium product and when setup appropriately may better serve your needs.  Republic works with liquid-filled gauges, however, when installed, we always strategically place the gauge to the system’s tank to avoid such issues described above.

Do you have anything to add to this post? Do you have any questions or need guidance in maintaining your central vacuum system? Comment below.


Written by: David Gradney