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What Are The Signs Of A Pump Cavitation?

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avoiding pump cavitation

Pump cavitation can partially or completely destroy a pump unless the issue is detected and fixed early on. There are almost always warning signs before a cavitation becomes serious enough for it to cause irreparable damage.

There are several types of plants that use pumps including oil refineries, water treatment plants, power plants, chemical and food processing plants.

Read on to know the signs of pump cavitation and how you can detect them. as red flags of a worsening pump cavitation. First we look at pressure drop as one of the first signs of pump cavitation.

Pressure Drop

Pressure drop is an important factor to consider in pipeline design and engineering. It is not inherently negative, but rather a necessary aspect to understand and calculate in order to optimize system performance. By accurately determining pressure drop, engineers can make informed decisions regarding pipe diameter, pump specifications, valve selection, and other variables to ensure efficient and effective operation of the system.


Cavitation is always a direct result of collapsing air/vapor bubbles, an event that always occurs at points where the pressure drops within the pump. The intensity of the cavitation caused will depend on how severe the pressure drop is at that location. This may or may not be accompanied by temperature fluctuations as well.

Monitoring Pressure Gauge

Monitoring the pressure gauge carefully through a few cycles should let you know that the pressure is dropping somewhere. Click here to learn how to correct pressure drop in pumps and prevent cavitations from getting any worse. Acting in time can prevent financial loss, property loss, injuries, accidents, and productivity loss.

Performance Loss

As explained, pressure loss is the direct cause and cavitation is its immediate effect. On the other hand, performance loss is both a direct effect of pressure drops and an indicator of cavitation. If any of your pumps are underperforming, it could be a warning sign of worsening cavitations. Check for a pressure drop to verify your suspicions. If you do find one, note that you can never ignore a pressure drop because it will inevitably get worse.

Higher Energy Consumption

Pressure drops, aka pressure fluctuations, force a pump to work at a higher than usual capacity because they need to compensate for the performance loss caused by the fluctuations. Eventually, even the overtime won’t be enough to prevent significant performance loss, but the pump will continue to draw increasingly excess energy to work at constant max capacity.

This will continue until the pressure drop is corrected or the pump finally breaks down. Power hungry as industrial pumps are even under normal circumstances, the electricity bills generated by an overworked, underperforming pump can be alarmingly high. Take them as a sign of cavitation and correct the pressure drop as soon as possible.

Vibrations, Rattling Noises, and Impeller Damage

The bubbles create damaging shockwaves upon collapsing, which should be detectable first as abnormal vibrations and rattling noises. The intensity, frequency, and force of the vibrations and rattling will continue to increase if the cavitation is not attended to.

Eventually, the shockwaves will damage the seals first, and then the pump itself. You will also see signs of damage on the impeller’s metallic parts soon after cavitations become a problem. The worse the damage on the impeller, the more serious the cavitation.

Note that these are just some of the early signs and effects of a pump cavitation, so things will get much worse if the warning signs are not acted upon soon.

Regular Check-Ups

To prevent the detrimental effects of pump cavitation, it is crucial to regularly inspect and maintain your facility’s pumps. By closely
monitoring their performance and conducting routine check-ups, you can mitigate the risks associated with severe pump cavitation.

Summing up

Understanding and managing pressure drop in processing plants is crucial to ensure efficient operations, maintain product quality, and uphold safety standards. By minimizing or eliminating cavitation, energy efficiency can be improved, resulting in lower energy consumption and reduced operational costs for the business.

If pump cavitation is suspected, it is crucial to address the issue promptly by investigating the root cause and implementing corrective measures. This may involve design engineers redesigning the system, modifying operating parameters, or replacing components to prevent further damage to ensure reliable pump operation.