What is a Vacuum Pump Leak?

Since opening in 1984, Precision Plus has grown to be the largest independent manufacturer of vacuum pump replacement parts. We provide quality products at a competitive price that don’t just meet or exceed OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) specifications; and we them to guarantee your satisfaction. at a competitive price. With more than 5,000 vacuum pump parts and consumables, we cover virtually all major OEM vacuum pump models, giving you the tools you need to achieve anything from a minor repair to a complete rebuild.

Precision Plus is excited to announce the beginning of our vacuum blog. This new addition to our website will create an area for our clients to visit for DIY information, instructions and tips pertaining to vacuum pump maintenance and repairs. Our goal is to establish an easy reference for our customers to get the advice they need on their pumps. With this blog, users will be able to search frequently asked questions and obtain answers quickly. There will also be areas to post new questions so our team can further assist with problems you may be having.

What is a vacuum leak?

In this blog we will go over:

  1. What exactly a vacuum leak is
  2. Different types of vacuum pump leaks
  3. Common causes and areas of vacuum pump leaks
  4. Why you should regularly check your vacuum system

So, what is a vacuum pump leak? For some of you this may be an obvious answer, but this is actually a very common question about vacuum pumps. Poor system performance is often related to system leaks. Leaks occur when there are pressure changes due to a gap hole between the atmosphere and the vacuum interior. They can also be a result of the progression of gas and vapors within the system. These unwanted pressure changes can also cause further damage to the system by allowing air in or gasses out, which can result in solid formation or explosion.

Before dealing with a vacuum leak, we must diagnose what type of leak it is. It can be either “real” or “virtual.” A virtual leak is a gas load expanding from inside the the vacuum system from outgassing. Outgassing can come from any liquid that is vaporizing inside the vacuum chamber, either off of the chamber walls or out of a substance placed into the chamber for processing. A real leak is one coming into the vacuum chamber from an outside source.

One of the most common causes of vacuum leaks is – you guessed it – poor system maintenance. To achieve maximum performance, the system must be leak tight and completely clean. Leak sources include:

  • Vapors – given off by the process load
  • Trapped volumes – pockets of gas released from within the system
  • Outgassing – from internal surfaces

Common areas of leaks usually happen around areas of connections made during assembly or areas that have been previously worked on. They can also occur over a period of time from corrosion, wear, or stress. These areas include but are not limited to:

  • O-Ring applications
  • Areas with welds
  • Turned parts
  • Bolts placed in blind holes

It is very important to regularly check your system. Leaks can occur suddenly or slowly over time. You may wonder if the system can withstand the consequences from a small leak. An acceptable leak rate is relative to your ultimate pressure. If the system can still achieve ultimate pressure with minimal leakage, you may be able to get by. Although, in these cases, leaks may not even be detectable. If you are able to detect a leak, you should make every effort to repair it. Leak rate is influenced by a number of variables that can change at the drop of a hat and cause catastrophic damage to your system. Know that any leak is a bad leak.

So, why test for leaks? Because there are many causes of leaks and it is probable that your system will be prone to a leak at some point in time. Test monthly to:

  • Assure ultimate pressure
  • Prevent air from entering the system:
    • Process gasses reacting with oxygen can lead to solid formation or explosion
    • Process gasses reacting with water vapor can lead to solid formation
    • Prevent process gases from escaping the system

Our next blog post will discuss how to detect vacuum pump leaks. Stay tuned, and visit our website for more information or to find thousands of parts and products for your vacuum pumps.

We thank you for choosing Precision Plus!

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