In a prior post, we discussed the “7 Golden Rules” for keeping your rotary vane (oil sealed) lab vacuum pump in tip-top shape. Here we address eight parallel rules for your dry-running diaphragm vacuum pumps to minimize service and maximum the pump’s contribution to your lab’s productivity.

Rule 1. Choose the right pump.
If your applications involve corrosive gases or vapors, including acids, organic solvents or even bleach, choose a pump with chemical-resistant wetted surfaces. Pumps with fluoropolymer diaphragms, valves and head covers will be unharmed by the corrosive vapors that will shorten the life of pumps designed for non-corrosive environments.

Rule 2. Read your manual.
Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe operation and periodic pump maintenance. Don’t have the manual? Most manufacturers put them online.

Rule 3. Protect the pump from particulates and liquids.
Equip your pump with an inlet separator, a glass “catchpot” that catches particulates and liquids before they enter the pump, so that your pump sees only vapors and gases.

Rule 4. Minimize the risk from condensable vapors.
If you are working with condensable vapors, use the pump’s gas ballast (continuous purge system) to keep condensation from accumulating in the pump. Liquids are not compressible and can impose damaging forces on the pump mechanism.

Rule 5. Never block the pump’s outlet.
Blocking the exhaust from the pump can damage valves within the pump, leading to loss of vacuum and service downtime for repair.

Rule 6. Consider digital pump controls for convenience and productivity.
For operations that require careful management of vacuum operations, choose a pump with electronic controls that can optimize processes, freeing you from tedious oversight while protecting your samples.

Rule 7. Protect lab staff and the environment.
Use emission condensers on your pump to capture waste solvent vapors and collect them for reuse or proper disposal. Be thoughtful of neighbors by minimizing releases of waste vapor emissions through building exhaust systems.

Rule 8. Clean the pump before storage.
Run the pump for a few minutes with the gas ballast valve open after your operation to blow any residual vapors through the pump before storage. This purges vapors that, if left untouched, could condense in the pump when it cools after shutdown and cause corrosion during storage.