If you work with a manufacturer that builds high-quality products, do a great job with the installation, and prioritize regular fan and blower maintenance, your industrial fan could last as long as 50 years. So what does all that mean? We break it down below and in Chet’s latest video.
Extending Operating Life of Your Industrial Fan or Blower
We’ll spend the bulk of this article covering the key components of quality fan and blower maintenance. But a long fan life starts well before that with construction and installation.
Longer Industrial Fan or Blower Life Through Quality Construction
Longer fan or blower life starts with the quality of construction by the manufacturer. The better the industrial fan or blower is designed and built for the specific application, the greater the chances that it will live out its full potential.
Longer Industrial Fan or Blower Life Through Solid Installation
The other early investment in the life of your fan or blower is proper installation. The best way to ensure a solid installation is to follow the Installation, Operation and Maintenance (IOM) manual from the manufacturer. That will provide specifications for things like how much torque is optimal when fastening the fan to the foundation, and the maximum allowed vibration levels for your fan or blower.
To set your system up for longer life and easier fan or blower maintenance from installation, start with a level foundation and make sure it’s torqued down correctly with a secure connection of fan to the foundation. You’ll also want to check the tightness of all of your fasteners, especially inside your wheel connection to the shaft, because if it’s not, that could be a really quick failure.
The next thing to check is the vibration of the fan, correcting any excess imbalance created during shipping and installation to run within recommended vibration levels. If your fan sat idle for any length of time before installation, you might also want to double-check that the bearings are properly lubricated. More on that below.
Extended Life Through Prioritized, Regular Fan or Blower Maintenance
Once the fan or blower is installed properly in your application, set up a regular fan and blower maintenance schedule to maximize the lifespan of your equipment. “Regular maintenance” means something a little different in each application and installation environment. The goal is to set up a schedule that seems to give you the best consistency of temperature and vibration.
Once you determine the timing and frequency of preventative maintenance, the best way to ensure that you stay on top of it is to install temperature and/or vibration sensors for continuous monitoring for early detection of a problem before failure. That way, even if something changes in between your scheduled maintenance, you have an early warning to monitor and address any potential issues.
Here are the key components to monitor and check regularly:
Proper Fan and Blower Maintenance: Fan Wheel
What can happen to a fan wheel? The most common issue you’ll see with the fan wheel is increasing vibration levels. Check your wheel to make sure that it’s clean, that it’s not corroding, and that it’s in balance to maintain the specified fan balance quality grade. We also recommend considering fan vibration isolation to avoid problems during operation.
Proper Fan and Blower Maintenance: Shaft Seal
As the shaft exits the fan housing, it goes through a shaft seal. Shaft seals wear out quickly, so we recommend maintaining a stock of the shaft seal material, for example, ceramic felt like the fan demonstrated in our video. Periodically, take the plates off, pull your material up, replace it with a new shaft seal, and replace the plates.
Proper Fan and Blower Maintenance: Bearings
Bearings are probably the number one replaced item on a fan. In fact, they’re often replaced much earlier than they need to be. Extending the bearing life is a great way to reduce the cost of fan or blower maintenance and extend the life of the overall equipment. There are two primary components of bearing maintenance.
Monitoring: Monitor bearings using vibration sensors and temperature sensors, which you should be able to order from your high-quality fan manufacturer.
Lubrication: It is critical to properly lubricate your bearings. That means ensuring there is just enough grease to reduce friction while allowing the heat to release. You can also tell it’s too much if it’s leaking through the seals.
Remember, the bearings have an L10 life, so regardless of how well you maintain them, they will fail at the end of that life. We recommend having the common replacement parts on a shelf so that when they reach the end of their life, you’re able to replace them quickly and get back up and running.
Proper Fan and Blower Maintenance: Shaft, Coupling and Motor Drive
On a direct drive fan, the shaft is connected to the motor directly or through a coupling. The coupling doesn’t need a lot of maintenance, but it is very important to align it properly any time you have to move it or pull it apart and put it back together. Additionally, the coupling has grease in it – make sure that it has grease in it over the life of the coupling.
On a belt-drive fan, your driver is connected to the fan shaft through a belt system. The belt system is bushing, sheaves, and a set of belts. Those are high-wear items, so we recommend having them on your shelf. To extend the life of your belt system as long as possible, make sure that your sheaves are flush with one another, properly aligned with and tensioned.
Finally, your fan or blower maintenance schedule must include the motor, which is similar to the fan bearing maintenance. There is a drive-end bearing and a non-drive-end bearing in the motor, which will need to have that essential lubrication schedule. They also would do well by being monitored for vibration and temperature.
Proper Fan and Blower Maintenance: Steel
Beyond your drive component and your rotating equipment, you have steel. There’s not much to do in terms of maintenance on steel, other than touch up paint to keep it from rusting. As long as you touch it up over time, your steel will probably be what outlasts everything on your equipment.
Recap: Industrial Fan and Blower Maintenance, Installation and Quality Make it Last Longer
Getting maximum life out of your industrial fans and blowers depends on three essential factors:
- Working with a quality, reputable fan and blower manufacturer
- Installing the fan properly, including monitors to supplement your maintenance schedule
- Setting up and following a disciplined maintenance schedule
Hear About Fan and Blower Maintenance from an Application Engineer
Senior Application Engineer Chet White demonstrates how to extend and maximize the life of your industrial fans and blowers in this 7¾ -minute video.
When you’re ready to start your project or update your fan and blower maintenance program, reach out and connect with one of our application engineers to discuss the details of your project.
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