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Keith Lapeyrouse

Process Reliability Solutions,


​It’s amazing how pesky condensate pumps can be. But think about it. They are the least important part of a project typically bought at the lowest cost by the least experienced member of the team. Forty years ago, I was working at a chemical plant and it had 3 low pressure (L.P.) condensate return systems that was costing the plant $22K per year in maintenance.


Let me describe the three different systems:

  • The 1st L.P. Condensate Return System was 20 years old. It had a ground mounted supply tank with dual condensate pumps (perhaps they expected unreliability). Each of the condensate pumps were center mounted (meaning two seals per pump). It failed often and cost $22K per year in Maintenance.

  • The second was 10 years old. The reservoir was about 4' above the tank. It had a single condensate pump center mounted (meaning two seals). The extra NPSHa from the elevated reservoir really helped. It only failed twice per year and cost 7K per year in Maintenance.

  • The last (3rd System) L.P Condensate Return System was 3 years old. It was by the same manufacturer as the second, so the reservoir was about 4' above the tank. It had a single condensate pump which was overhung (one seal). It had a spare pump in the warehouse. It had good performance!


One day, when the 2nd system pump failed, I used the spare from the 3rd system and it became my second system. It ran great! I started staving the $7k/yr. After it ran well for a while, I convinced the plant to upgrade the 1st system. The new system installed was the cost of maintenance for a year. So what's the point of the story? The cash was my salary at the time. The NPV is about $250K at this point. Fixing the small things pays big dividends!



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