Like with most equipment, the primary role of vacuum pump oil is mechanical lubrication. It also cools the pump through heat transfer. As the oil in a vacuum pump becomes saturated by moisture and non-condensables, the pump’s efficiency is dramatically reduced. Maintaining clean oil in the pump ensures optimal operating efficiency and an extended life for this important piece of equipment.

Pump Up the Vacuum

Vacuum pumps are high-value investments. Properly maintain yours and you’ll be ready for every evacuation.

While some requirements may differ depending on the type of equipment and manufacturer, certain standard maintenance procedures apply to just about every pump. For instance, most vacuum pumps have an intake filter screen that should be inspected prior to every job and be replaced if clogged or dirty. And generally, vacuum pump oil is mineral oil that’s been refined, has low vapor pressure, and precise viscosity for the application it’s being used for.

Here are some simple vacuum pump oil change dos and don’ts to follow, as well as why they matter.

DO an oil change after each evacuation

It’s one of the most significant steps you can take to properly care for the unit. If you want to reach deep states of vacuum, every single evacuation should be done with uncontaminated oil that is free of moisture.

DON’T pull a vacuum with already-contaminated oil

Sometimes oil becomes excessively contaminated during an evacuation. When that happens, be sure to replace the oil several times during the process.

DO use oil specifically made for deep vacuum pumps

By using the correct pump oil, you’ll not only avoid voiding your equipment’s warranty, you’ll also save it from serious damage.

DON’T start up the pump before adding oil

Oil is the life-blood of your pump. Be sure to add the amount recommended by the manufacturer.

DO keep the pump running when checking oil levels

The oil needs to be warm and thin before it can be accurately assessed. Also, when the pump’s not running, the oil level drops in the sight glass and can give the appearance of a low oil level. You might then overfill the pump.

DON’T improperly dispose of oil

Be sure to follow your state and local regulations when getting rid of contaminated, used oil.

DO flush the oil after five oil changes

If you see the oil is contaminated, or if it’s been sitting the pump for more than a month, flush it out (whether it’s contaminated or not).

One final don’t: there’s no need to rush and replace your pump if it fails. Before investing in a new one, check to see if a replacement part might solve the problem. You can also check the pump’s manual for troubleshooting suggestions.

Regular Maintenance Equals Long Life

Like all HVAC related equipment, the best thing you can do to keep your recovery machines operating at peak performance is to make sure they’re clean, safely stored, and handled with care. Don’t wait for signs of less-than-adequate performance such as a decline in power, slow recovery, excessive compressor noise, broken parts, or the equipment not holding pressure. Doing so can result in damage that cannot be repaired.

Proper vacuum pump maintenance depends on clean oil. Dirty oil makes it difficult to start up and run the pump and causes unnecessary wear and tear on the equipment. To keep a vacuum pump running smoothly, change the oil after every use and flush when necessary. Doing so ensures its efficiency and keeps it trouble-free for years.