How to Unclog Industrial Water Pumps and Resume Your Work

  • Post category:Maintenance
Water pumping through pipe

When overly large solids or certain types of debris enter the water, some pumps are more prone to clogging. Clogged pumps with a full or partial blockage can quickly pose severe damage to the rest of your equipment, cause backups and can potentially delay your projects. To ensure your pump systems operate to their fullest potential, read what our experts have to say below to help determine a root cause and offer solutions on how to unclog industrial water pumps, so you can resume smooth operation.

determine how the clog started

Determine How the Clog Started

During high flows such as heavy rain and weather events, municipal waste water stations and sewer systems can back up storm drains or full systems with debris such as clothing / rags, trash, large solids, etc. Additionally, inappropriately flushed items like grease may be a contributing factor to a blockage of sewer systems. This detritus can quickly build up and cause an emergency wastewater crisis situation that can potentially flood residential neighborhoods or clog whole sewage systems. On construction jobsites, mines, and quarries, a downed pump can cause costly delays such as shorter pump life, added management time, and extended personnel time. 

First, you must identify the source(s) of the problem. Often, the source is either inappropriately flushed items such as rags or fats, oils and grease (FOG) which are known to cause problematic fatbergs or stormwater debris buildup. After assessment of contributing factors, and determining whether you’re dealing with a full clog (where the pump is no longer working) or a partial clog (which decreases water flow), a plan to clear the clog and mitigate future clogging issues may be implemented. For mitigation, solutions such as installation of trash baskets, bar screens or agitators may be installed, or screening / upstream filtering might be necessary, however each has its pros and cons. 

Some pump companies have adapted to the debris issue by adding chopper impellers to their pumps which are made to handle this type of material and literally chop debris when it enters system. Unfortunately retrofits or new pumps with this option are slow to enter the field. Municipalities however are now purchasing submersible chopper pumps for their lift stations more than ever to decrease any potential risk of blockage or pump downtime. 

One of the most reliable ways to clear a clogged pump is to physically remove the clogging debris by releasing the vacuum, disconnecting the suction tube and letting the water rush back through the suction tube to flush out the debris, however the debris still remains in the water to be pumped. MWI discourages the use of a suction screen on a bypass as we feel it is easier to remove the suction hose and reach up in the volute to pull the rags or other debris from the impeller, than lift the entire suction hose out of a manhole and clean off the screen. Although cumbersome or frustrating, physical removal may be a necessary part of any debris management plan.

Consider New Equipmentconsider new equipment

Selecting the right pump is crucial to maintaining a smooth flow and preventing clogs. To avoid clogs, consider investing in equipment that can handle water containing debris and cut down on clogs such as trash pumps. MWI offers trash pumps built for any environment from smaller sewer bypass and job site dewatering all the way up to full sewage treatment plant / pumping station bypass with 200% larger handling capacities for solids up to 6” and a flow of 20MGD. 

The EPA confirms that “548 million tons of C&D debris were generated in the United States, in 2015—more than twice the amount of generated municipal waste.” Trash pumps such as our self-priming Primerite™ have larger impellers so they can handle small branches, pebbles, and other debris from sites. The Primerite™ includes a run-dry feature so they dont quit and will keep water moving. For larger pump stations and wastewater treatment plants, MWI also offers the Hydraflo™ H3NC—our robust non-clog pump that effortlessly performs even in the toughest conditions due to a closed two-bladed impeller which easily handles trash and sewage 2x larger than traditional trash pumps

Another solution is to retrofit or upgrade to new equipment such as a trash pump with a chopper impeller. If so, we encourage you to review our product line or talk to one of our specialists to determine the right pump for your application. We’re a leading manufacturer of American made, cost-effective, high-quality pumps with patented technology. MWI also offers sewage pump rental services complete with an in-house repair facility, a backup rental fleet and emergency 24/7 pump support. If you’re interested in reducing maintenance time and overall operating costs, feel free to contact us for more information.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Mike Sanders

    I like what you said about oils and grease causing issues for pumps. My sister has been telling me about how she wants to get a new industrial pump in the coming weeks. I’ll share this information with him so that he can look into his options for professionals who can help her with this.

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