By Jonathan Snook
A typical vacuum priming system normally consists of one or two liquid ring vacuum pumps mounted on the top plate of a horizontal vacuum receiver tank, as well as pipes for feeding make-up water to the pumps. A simple control panel nearby will have a selector switch with basic on/off control buttons for both pumps.
Often, the complete system in a typical station has been leaking both sealing water and vacuum for years. Due to vacuum leaks, it has been running almost continually, wasting energy and water trying to maintain a vacuum set point.
The disadvantages of water-sealed vacuum pump systems include high maintenance costs, as well as excessive use of motive energy. Also, the vacuum level can fluctuate considerably as the seasons change and sealing water temperature rises and falls. This directly affects the vacuum level. With this type of variable, it takes a very specialized maintenance team to set up these systems and keep them operating at peak performance.
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Vacuum priming systems are necessary, as water impeller pumps, while great for moving high volumes of water, are unable to pump or move air. When the pump is running and moving tremendous volumes of water, everything is working as it should. However, when the pump is taken offline and stopped, the water drains away.