The Common Issues for Gas Boosters and their Solutions

Gas boosters have emerged as vital components for ensuring a…

The Common Issues for Gas Boosters and their Solutions

Gas boosters have emerged as vital components for ensuring a stable and reliable gas supply. Used in homes and industrial settings, they offer an affordable solution to common gas pressure and stability problems. But nothing on earth is perfect, and even the best gas boosters can fail. So, what are some of the most common gas booster issues, and how can we solve them?

Most common gas booster pump issues are related to unstable or incorrect inlet or output pressures. It’s often caused by low pressure from the supplier, but internal issues like motor overload or incorrect belt alignment also cause output pressure problems. Regular maintenance can avoid most issues.

Gas boosters are powerful and complex, but they aren’t the most difficult devices to troubleshoot. They have a few essential components that make them work, and a good understanding of those components can help us solve the most common issues. Let’s explore the inner workings of a gas booster and discuss what could go wrong (and how to fix it).

Introduction to Gas Booster Challenges


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Gas boosters are valuable in various industries and fields—pretty much any industry that requires a stable gas supply. These include industrial uses like air knives, surface cleaning, electronics manufacturing, HVAC systems, etc. Even aviation ground support teams use gas pressure boosters.

Some of the most common problems these users experience with their gas boosters include:

  • Loss of input pressure, which is usually caused by poor gas input from the supplier, clogged filters, or leaks, often shows itself by tripping pressure switches.
  • Loss of output pressure, which is often caused by factors such as belt misalignment.
  • Noisy operation because of poor belt alignment, worn bearings.

Understanding Gas Booster Mechanics

gas booster mechanics

A gas booster takes low-pressure gas (or air) and increases its pressure to a higher level. It achieves this by using a piston or diaphragm mechanism driven by compressed air or centrifugal fans.

There are various types of gas boosters that suit different use cases. Secomak’s gas boosters consist of the following essential components:

  • Booster impeller chamber
  • Drive motor
  • Drive belt and belt guard
  • Outlet pressure switch (OP)
  • Inlet pressure switch (IP)
  • Booster bearing assembly

When all of these components are correctly set up, the gas booster will work as it should. However, many of the components require regular maintenance. The likelihood of problems increases if maintenance isn’t done on time or when components are incorrectly replaced during maintenance.

Troubleshooting Low Inlet Pressure

When you have low inlet pressure, the first step should be to check if you are receiving adequate pressure from the supplier. If not, it’s worth checking with the supplier to find out if there’s a supply problem. You can also use gas reservoirs to overcome inlet issues and ensure stable inlet pressure.

It’s also worth checking inlet filters, connections, and the inlet flange for any leaks, clogs, or faulty components.

The Role of Inlet Pressure Switches

Secomak gas boosters come with inlet pressure (IP) switches to protect the mechanisms. Whenever the inlet pressure drops too much or exceeds the limitations of the device, the inlet pressure switch will turn off the gas booster for safety purposes.

If the IP switch trips, the button on the switch must be manually pressed to reset the system. However, it’s essential to first check if your inlet pressure is within the safe operating range. If not, perform all the checks mentioned above or use gas reservoirs to stabilise the inlet pressure.

Enhancing Safety with Fire Alarms and Pressure Switches

Integrating a fire alarm system with your gas booster is a vital safety measure designed to automatically shut off the gas supply in the event of a fire. This precaution ensures that, during a fire, the risk of gas fueling the flames is minimised, enhancing the safety of the facility. Unlike pressure fluctuations, which are managed through other means, the direct link between fire alarms and gas boosters specifically addresses fire safety concerns.

Upon activation of the fire alarm, the gas booster’s connection to the fire safety system triggers an immediate response, shutting off the gas at the inlet to help prevent the escalation of the fire. Following such an incident, it’s essential to conduct a thorough safety inspection of all gas booster components and verify that the input pressure is stable. This ensures the system is safe and operational before manually resetting the inlet switch to resume normal operations.

This integrated safety feature underscores the importance of a proactive approach to fire safety, offering peace of mind and protecting against potential hazards associated with gas supply systems.

Utilising Gas Reservoirs for Inlet Stability

We aren’t always in control of the inlet pressure since it depends on our gas supplier. When the IP drops and the problem isn’t on our side, there’s only so much we can do to rectify the matter.

Maintaining consistent inlet pressure is crucial for the smooth operation of gas boosters. Still, this pressure can be subject to fluctuations beyond our control, primarily due to variances from the gas supply side. When sudden drops in inlet pressure (IP) occur, preventing the gas booster from tripping is paramount.

A strategic approach to mitigate these fluctuations involves integrating a gas reservoir into the booster system. This reservoir isn’t a standalone supply source but rather a temporary buffer. It connects directly to the pipework, offering a few crucial seconds of stability when the main supply momentarily dips. By smoothing out these initial pressure losses, the reservoir ensures the gas booster continues operating without interruption, effectively preventing unwanted trips of the inlet pressure switch.

Rather than replacing the main supply, the reservoir works in tandem with it, acting as an immediate response mechanism to preserve operational continuity. This setup allows the gas booster to maintain optimal functionality, drawing primarily from the main gas supply while relying on the reservoir’s support during transient pressure drops.

Managing Pressure During Duty and Standby Switchovers

Gas boosters are designed to operate efficiently under two distinct modes to ensure a reliable and consistent gas pressure supply. The system employs a structured cycle that alternates between these modes over a seven-day period, optimising performance and equipment longevity.

  • Duty Mode: This is the primary operation mode, where the gas booster actively works at full capacity to boost the gas pressure as per the system’s requirements. It’s during this phase that the booster provides the necessary pressure to meet operational demands, ensuring optimal functionality of the connected systems.
  • Standby Mode: In this secondary mode, the booster remains inactive but ready to engage instantly should the duty booster encounter any faults. This setup guarantees that there is no interruption in service, as the standby booster can immediately take over, maintaining an uninterrupted gas supply.

The transition from duty to standby booster is not triggered by fluctuating demand but is instead based on a predetermined seven-day schedule. This ensures that wear and tear are evenly distributed between the two boosters, enhancing their durability and service life. Only one booster operates at any given time, with the standby unit stepping in solely in case of a malfunction in the duty unit.

An integral component of this system is the inverter-driven technology, which plays a crucial role in maintaining the required outlet pressure. This technology allows for fine adjustments to the booster’s operation, ensuring that the gas pressure remains stable and consistent, regardless of the switch between duty and standby modes. The inverter-driven system significantly contributes to the efficiency and reliability of the gas supply, ensuring that pressure needs are met without overburdening the equipment.

Addressing Low Outlet Pressure and Belt Issues

Secomak pumps have a convenient Low Output Pressure light to indicate when the outlet pressure is too low. Several factors can cause pressure to drop at the outlet valve.

The belt might have come off. Since the booster pump is driven by a belt system, the gas pressure will drop when the belt is dislodged from its pulleys.

The belt might be misaligned. This often happens immediately after maintenance if the belt isn’t replaced correctly or when the belt is worn because it’s time for a service. You will probably hear some noise from the gas booster, and the outlet pressure might drop.

If some parts of the outlet valve or pipes are clogged, this will also adversely affect the outlet gas pressure.

The belt is usually the first component to check since it’s the most likely culprit. You can open the belt housing and ensure that the belt is firmly in place. If it is, you can check for leaks in the pipes or clogs in the filters or valves.

Regulating Pressure with APS and Governors

Gas Boosters

Sometimes, the gas booster pump will be functioning optimally, but the pressure delivered to the appliance will be too high. There are two solutions to this.

  1. Install a gas pressure governor at the appliance’s input. Governors or regulators are designed to reduce the inlet pressure at the appliance to safe levels. The ideal level will depend on the appliance, and there are different types of governors to cater for different pressure requirements.
  2. Use Secomak’s APS system. An Automatic Pressure Setpoint system, also known as an APS inverter, is a device that can be installed between the gas booster and the appliance to regulate the pressure and ensure that it remains stable. It uses a pressure transducer to constantly monitor the pressure and a controller to adjust the gas output to the perfect level.

Governors are helpful, but it’s an excellent idea to install an APS inverter to help ensure a consistent, stable gas supply to your appliances.

Optimising Performance with Inverter Adjustments

It’s possible that you already have an APS inverter installed since it can be easily integrated with a gas booster pump. If you do and the gas pressure is still too low when it arrives at the appliance’s input valve, the problem could be something as simple as a setting.

The APS inverter has a built-in controller in the form of a pot switch that you can use to adjust the output pressure. Making fine adjustments using the pot will usually help you find the perfect pressure for your appliance.

Solving the Mystery of a “Hunting” Gas Booster

Secomak Gas Booster Model 540/3

A “hunting” gas booster refers to a situation where the booster cycles back and forth around the set point (SP) without stabilising. It oscillates excessively, causing pressure fluctuations.

The most common way to troubleshoot this is through PID tuning. The booster’s control loop uses a proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controller to regulate the output and maintain the desired pressure. Incorrect PID tuning parameters can lead to hunting.

Adjusting the proportional gain (P), integral time (I), and derivative time (D) to the correct settings will probably help.

Ensuring Proper Pressure with NRV and Flexibles

Non-return valves (NRVs) and flexible connections are essential components of a gas supply system designed for safety and operational flexibility. While integral to the system’s integrity, they can contribute to pressure loss, a characteristic not indicative of a fault but rather a consequence of their function in regulating gas flow.

Understanding this, it’s crucial to proactively manage and minimise such losses to ensure an efficient and reliable gas supply. Initial system design considerations should include a thorough evaluation of potential pressure drops associated with NRVs and flexible connections. This foresight allows for selecting components best suited to your system’s specific needs.

In response to this challenge, Secomak offers strategic solutions aimed at optimising your gas supply system’s performance. One effective method is the installation of larger non-return valves and flexible connections. These upsized components are designed to facilitate a smoother flow of gas, effectively reducing the resistance that contributes to pressure loss. By allowing a more free-flowing gas supply, these larger ancillaries significantly mitigate the impact of pressure drops, ensuring your system operates within its optimal pressure range.

To assist in this optimisation, Secomak provides valuable resources for accurately calculating the expected pressure loss through your system’s NRVs and flexibles. Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions on the appropriate sizes and specifications for these components. This proactive approach not only enhances the efficiency of your gas booster system but also ensures it is equipped to deliver the necessary gas pressure consistently and reliably.

The Criticality of Belt Alignment

We’ve seen how critical belt alignment can be to the smooth operation of your gas booster. Apart from coming loose, a belt can also be misaligned, which often happens if it is improperly fitted during maintenance.

A misaligned belt could cause your gas booster to perform below its optimal capabilities and deliver low gas pressure. Still, it can also lead to several other problems that aren’t necessarily immediately noticeable.

For example, it will cause the belt to wear out more quickly, requiring more frequent maintenance, thereby incurring unnecessary costs. It will also adversely affect the lifespan of the bearing assembly since a belt that doesn’t run true will cause unstable operation and some rattling in the bearings.

Thankfully, Secomak pumps make it easy to fix this issue. It’s pretty easy to open and remove the outer belt guard, which will give you access to the belt itself. With the device powered off, run the belt with your hand to see if it is appropriately aligned. Since this step is so simple, it’s worth repeating it from time to time.

Preventive Maintenance: A Key to Longevity

When our machines and equipment are running as they should, it’s easy to forget about them. In fact, that’s kind of ideal—a good machine is one that runs so well that we don’t even have to think about it again. Unfortunately, even the best quality equipment needs maintenance from time to time.

Many of the faults and issues we’ve seen can be easily avoided when we perform regular maintenance. These maintenance times should be used to check all the parts of your gas supply system, including gas boosters, APS inverters, pipes, and valves. Look for leaks, clean out clogs, clean and replace filters, and check the gas booster’s belt and bearing assembly.

The challenge is to do this regularly. If we leave it too long, problems will sneak in. So, ideally, we should create a fixed maintenance schedule that accommodates downtime for the equipment so that everything can be inspected, cleaned, fixed, and replaced.

The specifics of your schedule should obviously depend on your use case, but it’s also a good idea to consider the running time of your equipment when calculating it. Ensure that you do maintenance before you reach the estimated time when parts like the belt should be replaced to avoid unplanned downtime.

Conclusion: Ensuring Reliability in Gas Boosters

A gas booster can revolutionise the way you operate your gas machinery and appliances. It is an affordable and energy-efficient device that will save you time and money in the long run. Unfortunately, problems will slip in from time to time that require proper troubleshooting and repair.

The tips we’ve been looking at come from Secomak’s many years of experience in the field of gas boosters and APS inverters. This means you can rely on this information to help you make the right choices and take the best steps, not only to fix any current issues you might have but also to help you avoid more severe problems in the future.

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