Pump and Seal Certification

The Mechanical Seal and Centrifugal Pump Certification Program

The maintenance climate has changed dramatically during the past ten years:

  • Apprentice programs have almost disappeared and "multicraft workers" with only "on the job" training skills are rapidly becoming the norm.
  • Contract labor is trying to fill the gap, but too often the contract laborer has evolved into a "parts changer" with little to no skill in troubleshooting premature rotating equipment failure.
  • The mechanical seals and bearings that are being purchased for the rotating equipment have a history of failing prematurely at least 85% of the time (look at your used mechanical seals and you will see plenty of wearable carbon face left).
  • Energy and water consumption have to be reduced and plants through out the world are being subjected to tighter pollution and fugitive emissions laws. Failure to meet these standards can mean excessive fines and lost production hours.
  • Too often untrained plant production personnel are conferring with equally unqualified outside vendors who are proposing proprietary products that are often quoted on the basis of their profitability to the distributor rather than their value to the customer. In a very large number of cases untrained buyers are considering discount as a major factor in their buying decision because they are unable to properly evaluate reliability, operating cost, efficiency, etc..
  • In this "litigation happy" society of ours more companies are being sued if neglect can be proven any time an employee, or any one else, is injured on the job and non certified personnel leaves open the suggestion of neglect.
  • There is no mechanism for your plant to keep abreast of the significant changes in seal designs and materials other than to talk to sales people who are always promoting some sort of a proprietary product.

Isn't it significant that in most countries if you wanted to get a job cutting people's hair you would have to take a prescribed course, pass a written examination, and be licensed by some type of government authority? If you want to take an expensive piece of rotating equipment apart, install a mechanical seal that, if it leaks, could cause a pollution problem, start a fire, injure nearby personnel etc. Any one can do so because there is no requirement for attending any school, passing any test, or being licensed by any one.

Now it strikes me that there is something amiss in this system and the Seal and Pump Certification program is one way to correcting this very obvious wrong.

Once started, I am confident that the program will be adopted by all major consumers as well as seal and pump manufacturers.

With all of that said, there must be a beginning and that is the purpose of this program. The course format is based on the highly successful certification program used by the United States Navy for submarine training. Most of you that read my technical papers know of my background with diesel and atomic submarines.

The certification is divided into several parts:

  • A two day seal and pump troubleshooting school that acts as an introduction to the certification program. You do not have to attend this school to enroll in the program, but it sure helps.
  • A series of examinations that must be completed and mailed to the testing facility for scoring. The student's progress will be entered into our computer data bank that can be accessed any time for a progress report.
  • A check off list of physical skills that must be demonstrated.
  • A final examination

Here are a few reasons I think that each process plant should employ at least one certified person per working shift:

  • The plant will have an employee to professionally review seal and pump proposals. A lot of plants continually purchase oversized pumps and motors because the man making the buying decision did not fully understand the negative consequences of purchasing the wrong size hardware.
  • Seal and pump designs are often in conflict. Knowledgeable users can influence the future designs and standards that will impact these products.
  • The certified person will be able to logically troubleshoot premature seal, bearing and pump failures.
  • Some one has to coordinate the writing of sensible plant standards for your seals and pumps, or you will have to rely upon outdated industry standards.
  • The certified person will be able to set up an efficient "in house repair facility" if you desire to have one, and recent "Right To Know Laws" are certainly encouraging it.
  • The plant will have a qualified employee to coordinate a predictive maintenance program for seals, bearings, and pumps using the latest techniques.
  • The certified person can be responsible for keeping management informed of the latest materials and designs so that you maintain a low "in house" inventory that does not become out dated as materials and design evolve. Too often suppliers sell out dated hardware to clean their shelves for newer and more efficient models.
  • Certified personnel will demonstrate the plant's willingness to invest in a professional approach to fugitive emissions, pollution control standards, conservation, etc..
  • You will have some one to work with contract maintenance and original equipment people if they are involved in the seal and pump maintenance, or selection process.
  • etc.&
  • Needless to say, the benefits to the plant are obvious and certification means that management personnel can feel reasonably confident that the selected person has the necessary knowledge to do the job. Certificationis simple, but it is not easy.

The benefits of certification to the candidate are obvious:

  • A career path independent of formal education or work experience.
  • Recognized ability. That is why submarine sailors wear "Dolphins" and pilots wear "Wings".
  • The satisfaction of knowing that you are expert in something current and important.
  • You will become part of a" closed communication loop" that will keep you abreast of changes and developments in the industry.
  • You will be put in contact with other certified people with whom you can share knowledge and experience.
  • Being a pioneer is always exciting.
  • One day employment will depend upon certification.

Who is eligible to participate?

  • Maintenance, engineering and production people presently employed in the field
  • Sales and application people employed by distributors and manufacturers of mechanical seals, bearing sealing devices, bearings, and pumps.
  • Personnel responsible for the elimination of fluid leakage.

What costs are involved?

  • Attendance at the two day preparatory school held at major cities through out the world
  • A nominal charge for the study and testing materials.
  • I will provide a technical manual for self study and reference. The student should also have access to the following:
    • The Hydraulic Institute Manuals
    • The Chemical Dictionary
    • The Pump Handbook
    • Seal brochures
    • Pump brochures
    • Bearing information
    • Lubrication information
    • Electric motor information
  • Mailing or faxing charges incurred when you send in your tests.
  • Any costs involve in attending seminars and training sessions held through out the year by various manufacturers and suppliers involved in these products and services. Pump, bearing and seal schools, vibration analysis, alignment, and balancing courses are strongly recommended if you lack hands on experience.



  • On February 17, 2018