How to Test a Pump's Power Source


Check_box.pngMaking Sure Your Pump Works

If your pump has low flow or head pressure, or is performing erratically, you need to find out what the issue is quickly. One common problem is that a pump is not receiving the right amount of power. This affects overall performance at best and at worst, can actually damage equipment and be dangerous.

With this in mind, let's take a look at how to ensure your pump's power source is safe and provides the power your equipment needs.

What is an Unstable Power Supply?

The stability of your pump's power supply is critical. Few realise that electrical power supplies can vary in performance markedly. On a domestic level, this is rarely noticed, but when using expensive, sensitive equipment, an unstable power supple can cause real problems.

An unstable power source is brought about by a spike or dip in the available electricity supply. A spike (also known as a surge) in electricity usually only lasts for a thousandth of a second, but the repercussions can be disastrous. Power surges can damage expensive equipment, especially if motors or complex electronics are present. At their most dangerous, such a surge can even start a fire.

A stable power source should experience no or few surges, providing the same voltage consistently so that a pump can work to its manufactured specifications.

What Causes an Unstable Power Source?

There are four things which can cause a surge in electricity:

  1. Infrastructure: The quality of a power grid varies from country to country and region to region. Higher quality networks will provide fewer surges due to better equipment, while poorer ones while unfortunately result in more.
  2. Faulty Wiring: A building's wiring can cause unstable electrical supply if it is needing replaced.
  3. Electrical Devices: High powered devices such as pumps, compressors, air conditioners and refrigerators can actually cause a surge in electricity by drawing so much power that they interrupt a consistent electrical charge. This can cause a dip or a surge in available power.
  4. Lightning: While uncommon, a lightning strike can shoot millions of volts through an electrical grid. This can destroy sensitive equipment.

How to Detect an Unstable Pump Power Supply

Detecting an unstable power supply for your pump isn't easy, as surges and dips are irregular by nature. Common indicators of a power supply issue include:

  • Tripped Fuses: An unstable power supply can result in tripped fuses. If the fuse relating to where your pump is drawing power from keeps switching off, this may be because your pump is drawing more power than the wiring or grid can handle. An increase in electrical power results in wires heating up, which changes the resistance of the circuit. A fuse switches the power supply off when the resistance alters to stop a fire from happening. It could also be that a stronger fuse is needed, but this should be assessed by a qualified electrician, as most fuse replacements should be at the same amp rating of its predecessor.
  • Sound: Listen to your pump motor. If it oscillates irregularly, as if it is dropping power and then reaching normal performance, then this could be due to a power source issue.
  • Poor Performance: If your pump isn't pumping the volume of water it is supposed to, or providing enough head pressure, it could be that it's not getting the power it needs.
  • Varied Performance: Your pump should be consistent in terms of how much fluid or air it can move. If this seems variable, then the power source could be the culprit.
  • Outlet Voltage: By using a multimeter it is possible to test the voltage coming out of a socket or outlet. This should be consistent, but if it is lower than expected then there is an issue with the electrical supply and your pump will not be able to perform its job adequately.

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Tags: Pump performance, Pump test


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