Dust collector maintenance plays a vital role in ensuring that industrial dust collectors operate reliably and efficiently. Dust collection systems are engineered to collect, separate, and filter harmful particles and dust from the air in factories, processing plants, manufacturing environments, and production facilities. When properly designed and maintained, a baghouse dust collector will surpass 99.9% collection efficiency in removing particulate contaminants from ambient plant air and from exhaust stacks.
For dust collection systems to function reliably as intended, operations and facility managers should establish a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual maintenance schedule. A few routine scheduled dust collection maintenance procedures will serve to ensure years of unfailing operation of the system. With optimal performance and longevity of the dust collection system in mind – here are 10 dust collection system maintenance tips:
Differential Pressure Check
Regular readings of differential pressure (dP) are essential for maintaining dust collector performance. Differential pressure is the most basic status check for dust collector health. Ensuring an accurate dP reading is vital to systems operations. Differential pressure will fluctuate on a new baghouse or one with new filters. Eventually, the dust collector will reach a steady-state of operation with a consistent pressure drop. Daily observation of differential pressure will call attention to early irregularities which can be predictive of upsets in operations, internal or external factors affecting performance, adjustments needed in the operating protocol, or that it may be time to perform maintenance, potentially including filter changes. Differential pressure readings are the first step to guide operation and maintenance decisions. The differential pressure sensors and tubing lines should be cleaned and replaced at manufacturer suggested intervals. Don’t wait until they fail. Even small amounts of dust buildup in the lines can cause irreparable damage.
It’s important to note that in most cases, hoppers are intended as only a temporary collection of material, not to store it. Dust collector hoppers should be emptied regularly. Too much material in the hopper can plug the dusty gas inlet(s), create air turbulence, disrupt the airflow, cause dust re-entrainment, impede performance, abrade filters, and in some cases, create a combustible dust hazard.
Filter Media Inspection
Inspecting filter media in a baghouse should be mandatory. In most applications with felted bags, forming a dust cake is a desirable sign of optimal filtering efficiency during operation. The clean air side of the dust collector should be checked for evidence of leaks resulting from tears or holes in filter bags. If a dust cake is hard and does not dislodge easily, it could result from moisture in the baghouse from poor quality compressed air or indicative of an upstream problem such as high moisture content in the process gas.
Bag/Filter Change Outs
Filters should be changed at intervals suggested by the manufacturer. Periodic bag changeouts provide maximum performance and minimum downtime of the system. It is always best to source replacement filters or bags from the original equipment supplier or a trusted aftermarket provider to ensure that the quality of materials and construction is consistent with the original filters and is built to the same dimensions and tolerance. Oftentimes, replacing filter media with third-party filters may void the equipment warranty.
Visible Emissions Check
Check for emissions from the exhaust stack. Visible signs of discharge are that a seal is broken or a bag is worn or torn. Emissions can result in health concerns, property damage, or fines imposed by the local EPA. Emission leaks must be found and repaired immediately.
Inspecting Diaphragm Valves
Properly maintained diaphragm pulse valves ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the cleaning system of a pulse-jet dust collector system. Leaking or worn diaphragms may stick open, potentially wasting a large volume of compressed air, the highest cost operating variable associated with a pulse-jet dust collection system. A worn or leaking diaphragm valve reduces compressed air availability throughout the system and results in ineffective bag cleaning. Replacing worn diaphragms is a simple maintenance procedure. Diaphragm repair kits are available wherein only the internals need to be replaced. Diaphragm kits should be inventoried at all times for unexpected maintenance needs.
Regular Leak Testing
Leak testing can be an ongoing diagnostic measure for system operators. Regular emissions monitoring or leak testing is a predictive maintenance measure that helps ensure filters have not failed prematurely. If increased emissions are identified, further investigation can identify damaged bags which may be causing performance issues and/or excessive emissions. In certain applications filters are subject to abrasion, chemical attack, or temperature excursions, causing failure.
Exhaust fans provide the motive force for ventilation air throughout a dust collection system. If the system fan is not operating within the prescribed conditions, a dust collection system will not operate effectively. Fans belts should be inspected quarterly; amperage should be regularly checked. Signs of needed fan maintenance include unusual vibrations, variances in standard operation, and periodic squealing.
Ducts are an important component in a ventilation system and must be kept clear for a dust collection system to function efficiently. If particulates and dust do not reach the baghouse and settle in the duct, it can choke the system. Regular inspection for dust accumulation ensures that necessary pressure and adequate velocities are maintained.
For smaller companies with fewer internal resources, regular servicing of your system by a third-party qualified provider can save time and money. Preventative maintenance programs can be fulfilled by specialized, skilled service technicians familiar with dust collector systems. Regular service contracts cover routine inspections and systems maintenance. Servicing can also identify worn components and parts and offer solutions that otherwise could lead to system downtime and costly repairs. Additionally, most service contracts come with guarantees in case something goes wrong.