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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Pumps

Pumps are basic in nature, but serve a crucial purpose in many applications. To review, their function is in moving fluids by mechanical action via one of three different methods – direct lift, displacement or gravity. You’ll find pumps in automotive engines, industrial applications, in basements to move water away from the home foundation, in medical applications, etc. They vary in size from microscopic to large industrial varieties. Yes while pumps seem simple in nature, the types of pumps are about as vast as the applications they serve. Here’s a closer look at pumps – just think of this as your “ultimate cheat sheet” of sorts when it comes to these parts:

  • The early origins of the pump date back to ancient Egypt, around 200 B.C., with the creation of the shadoof. In a nutshell, the shadoof was an irrigation tool used to scoop and carry water from one source to another. Shadoofs still exist in some capacity today and are known in this modern day and age as “well poles,” “well sweeps” or just “sweeps.”
  • The types of pumps: While there are a variety of different pumps out there today, they generally fall under two main categories – positive displacement andcentrifugal. Specifically, a positive displacement pump traps an amount of fluid and then forces it through a discharge pipe. There are several sub-categories ofpositive displacement pumps, including rotary-type, reciprocating-type and linear-type. Some examples of rotary-type displacement pumps include the likes of gear pumps, screw pumps and rotary vane pumps. Plunger pumps, diaphragm pumps, piston pumps and radial piston pumps are all examples of reciprocating-type pumps.
  • Centrifugal pumps, on the other hand, transport fluids by converting rotational kinetic energy to hydrodynamic energy of the fluid flow. Centrifugal pumps are commonly used in more industrial applications, such as water, sewage and petrochemical pumping applications. The roots of centrifugal pumps date back to the late 1400s, though true centrifugal pumps didn’t become available until the 1700s.
  • Axial-flow pumps are another type of pump that, while classified in a different category than a centrifugal pump, operates in the same sort of manner.
  • Aside from electric motors, mechanical pumps are the second most common machine in the world.
  • Pumps need regular maintenance: While pumps are expensive (more on that later), one of the most expensive costs of ownership associated with pumps is failure due to unscheduled maintenance. In fact, it’s estimated that pump failure costs range anywhere from $2,600 to $12,000 (the average is said to be around $5,000). Pump fires are another source of destruction, as it’s estimated that one pump fire occurs per every 1,000 failures.
  • You won’t go through a day without using pumps: Even though you may not notice it, pumps play a vital role in many activities that you partake in throughout the day. For instance, every time you flush the toilet, a pump transports wastewater to a sewage treatment facility. When you drive your car, a fuel pump injects gas into the vehicle’s engine (on that note it’s worth mentioning that the typical car may have up to 12 pumps under the hood). A sump pump in your basement works to keep water away from the foundation after heavy rainfall. The fish aquarium in your living room is kept clean with the help of pumps. The applications – as well as your encounters with pumps – are vast.
  • Pumps are widespread: It’s estimated that pumps presently account for about 10 percent of the world’s total energy consumption, just based on the diverse range of applications they help power.
  • Pumps have made great strides in energy efficiency: Not too long ago, it was estimated that 2 out of every 3 pumps were wasting energy. It was also estimated that pumps wasted energy an estimated 95 percent of the time. That’s not the case these days, as pumps have really been developed to use less energy and operate more sustainably. In fact, it’s estimated that switching to these more energy efficient pumps on a grander scale would be equivalent to a 4 percent savings in terms of world energy consumption.
  • On micropumps: The smallest types of pumps are known as “micropumps.” Their origins date back to the mid-1970s and are used particularly in microfluid research settings. Micropumps can be integrated into both mechanical and non-mechanical applications. The first commercial micropump was announced in 2003.
  • Pumps can be expensive: Whether it’s for microscopic medical applications or for large, industrial purposes, pumps aren’t necessarily cheap. In fact, they can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Thankfully, when it comes to purchasing a new pump – for whatever the application is – there are other options aside from purchasing brand new. These include buying used, such as through a website like Bid on Equipment. When purchasing product through a site like this, you’re getting a like new product for a used price – and that can be a real money saver when it comes to buying expensive, capital equipment such as this.

As you can see, pumps are equipment that we take for granted in a variety of different things that we do every day. And now that you know a bit more about these crucial appliances, keep in mind these intangibles the next time you drink a glass of tap water, drive your car or are feeding the fish in your home aquarium. For more information about pumps – and about how to purchase them – visit Bid on Equipment at or call 847-854-8577.

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