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8 Reasons for Bearing Failure

Bearings are an essential part of Pumps. They are designed to reduce friction between rotating parts on a fixed axis, such as a pump shaft as it rotates driving an impeller as well as absorbing large radial forces generated by a pumps working motion.

Bearings are classed according to type of operation, direction of rotary forces, speed, and motions experienced during operation. Units are lubricated via oil or grease and can be open, closed, radial or contact ball bearings.


1. Lack of Lubrication

Lack of lubrication causes the internal ball bearings to scrape against each other rather than glide. As these are metal, heat quickly builds leading to rapid failure of the bearing.

2. Over Lubrication

Excessive amounts of grease within a bearing can lead to bearings churning grease, resulting in increased energy loses and rising temperatures. This results in accelerated wear of the internal elements -its balls and raceway.

3. Contamination of Lubricating FluidBearing housing failure from contamination

Should the mechanical seal fail, fluid can leak directly into the bearings. Water or other fluids can contaminate the bearings eliminating the effectiveness of lubricants or leading to chemical attack meaning the unit fails to perform as expected.

4. Internal Clearance

This can lead to excess friction, overheating and prompt failure if not set correctly. If too tight Metal to metal contact is possible causing shaft wear and bearing overload. If too loose then this can cause shaft wobble and means the bearing will not work as designed to absorb the radial load, and lubricant flow within the bearing will not keep internal elements cool.

5. Overloading or Fatigue

If a pump is operating too far on the left or right of its curve, the viscosity of the fluid is higher than expected, or there are large amounts of solids in the pumped fluid this can cause bearing overloading. This can lead to excess friction, overheating and prompt failure.

6. Over Temperature

Again should a pump operate too far left or right of its curve, fluid viscosity be higher than expected, frequent solids be transferred, or high temperature fluids be handled this can cause internal elements to heat quickly. If bearings begin to operate at higher than design temperatures this can cause internal lubricants to purge from the unit, reducing the amount of lubricant present leading to failure.

Bearings typically only reach a normal temperature after operating for a few hours, and temperature checks should be made during commissioning.

7. MisalignmentBearing overloading failure

Misalignment causes large uneven radial loads to be absorbed by components not designed or built to withstand such levels of stress.

8. Housing Wear

As bearing housings wear the bearing is free to move more freely resulting in excess play. This can cause lubricant flow within the bearing to behave differently leading to inadequate lubrication of the unit.  

If you are experiencing frequent bearing wear, this can often be a sign of a much larger issue. Speak to us to see how we can help.



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