Best Practices for Increasing the Lifespan of Submersible Pumps

Hayes Pump Blog Featured Image-May-14-2024-03-11-34-6243-PM

Submersible pumps are unlike any other type of pump, as they’re entirely immersed within the fluid they transport. Lengthening their lifespans requires understanding the applications they often use and how they operate. Submersible pumps are designed so that the pump and its motor remain fully submerged within a processing solution or other liquid, which requires that they remain sealed. The impermeable nature of this enclosure surrounding the motor protects these pumps from failure. To keep submersible pumps operating properly in harsh conditions, certain best practices should be followed to ensure they last as long as possible.

Factors Affecting & Tips for Extending Lifespan of Submersible Pumps

Submersible pumps convert rotational energy into kinetic energy, which transports fluids throughout a pumping system. These pumps are designed to be fully submerged, which requires the motor to be hermetically sealed. As a result, the motors of submersible pumps need to be positioned within the pump’s housing, along with sequentially placed impellers. The liquid they pump also acts as a coolant when fully submerged.

Applications for submersible pumps include: 

  • Wells: Able to lift liquids from deep underground, these pumps can extract water and oil or gas from deep wells to the surface with the aid of ESPs.
  • Wastewater: Widely used in wastewater treatment systems, submersible pumps often work as pump and lift stations due to their compactness and lower installation cost.
  • Sump pumping: Submersible pumps are sometimes used to remove water gathered in a sunken area, such as when removing water from a flooded basement or pumping ponds filled with tailings at mining sites.
  • Sewage treatment: Generally, submersible pumps like grinder pumps that can also handle solid material within the liquid being transported are used, which help reduce particulate matter within the slurry to allow easier handling for downstream treatments.
  • Oil and Gas: This sector uses electric submersible pumps (ESPs) to lift fluids from deep wells cost-efficiently.
  • Mining: Submersible pumps used in mining also operate on ESP principles and must contend with harsh conditions, like highly acidic liquids that often contain suspended solids.
  • Dredging operations: Submersible pumps are used to dredge harbors at ports, often involving handling liquids with a high solid content.

Though commonly used for pumping liquids from wells, tanks, underground reservoirs, or other sources in which they’re submerged, submersible pumps are used for various applications. These include crop irrigation, extracting groundwater, pumping water for fighting fires, or supplying water to buildings. However, one key aspect of their design is that they must remain completely immersed in a liquid; otherwise, they will likely experience cavitation, and damage to the motor or seal can also occur. For this reason, they should never be run when dry.

Factors That Can Affect Submersible Pumps’ Lifespans

Before considering ways to extend their lifespan, let’s examine the factors that can affect how long submersible pumps last. The lifespan of submersible pumps can be affected by the quality of installation, duty cycle, sedimentation, materials from which they’re made, power supply, the use of pump protectors, and how well they’re maintained. These factors should be considered when choosing a submersible pump for a particular application and ensuring it operates reliably throughout its lifespan.

Installation Quality

How well submersible pumps are installed plays a key role in how long they last, with improperly fitted systems more likely to experience breakdowns and failures of critical components. Pump installation requires a deep understanding of pumps and how they operate in specific applications, so this must be done by people with sufficient expertise. Though professional installations of submersible pumps might cost more initially, they’re likely to be cost-effective over time by reducing maintenance costs and the need for repairs and replacement of parts.

Duty Cycle

The frequency at which submersible pumps operate affects their lifespan, otherwise known as their duty cycle. It’s a critical element for determining how long they’ll last. While certain submersible pumps only intermittently function, others activate frequently or work continuously. Frequency can shorten a pump’s lifespan, especially if it’s not the best pump. Selecting the best submersible pump for an application involves matching its capacity to its recommended output rate. Without adequate capacity, submersible pumps experience more wear, which leads to shorter lifecycles.

Sedimentation in Pumped Fluids

Sediments can significantly affect the lifecycle of submersible pumps. Solids within the water or other liquids being pumped may be abrasive, for example, thus causing considerable wear to the pump, especially its bearings and rotational components. Generally, the higher the level of sedimentation, the harder submersible pumps must work and the lower their lifespan. As debris tends to clog submersible pumps’ intakes, which then reduces flow and may lead to damage, it’s essential also to install them away from areas that may present a source for debris, like organic matter, rocks, or silt. For this reason, it’s vital to choose submersible pumps made from tougher materials when they’re working with fluids containing higher amounts of sediment. This is especially true when used for dredging, mining, sewage, or other applications where abrasive wear can lead to premature failure.


Typically, submersible pumps are made from materials like thermoplastics, stainless steel, or cast iron. Submersible pump composition affects lifecycle, as each material has advantages and disadvantages, depending on their precise application. For example, though cast iron submersible pumps tend to be less expensive, they’re more vulnerable to corrosion than ones made from stainless steel. Though submersible pumps made from thermoplastics also resist corrosion, the material often doesn’t stand up well when used for heavier-duty applications.


How much power submersible pumps produce affects their lifecycle. Too little power can slow the pump, resulting in premature wear of the impeller or other pump parts. Too much power can also cause premature failure, as it may lead to overheating. Submersible pumps should be powered as recommended for the application.

Pump Protection

It’s also essential to deactivate submersible pumps when fluid levels drop to keep them from running dry, which sometimes results from too much sedimentation in the pumped fluid. Pump protectors for submersible pumps shut the pump off when problems like this occur. This helps prevent damage, saving money on repair or replacement of parts like seals.

Tips for Maintaining Submersible Pumps

The maintenance of submersible pumps is the most important element in extending their lifecycle. A range of best practices regarding submersible pump maintenance allow pump operators to recognize and focus on issues before they become real problems. Maintaining submersible pumps is key to ensuring they continue performing efficiently throughout their lives.

Maintenance tips regarding submersible pumps should include: 

  • Testing performance: Consistent testing of pump performance will ensure that operators see and deal with issues before they become real problems; flow rates and pressure outputs should be regularly examined, with any issues addressed expediently.
  • Scheduled maintenance: Manufacturer instructions and schedules for maintenance should be followed to keep submersible pumps in good working order, which may include assessing insulation surrounding the motor, regular lubrication of bearings, and testing electrical connections.
  • Replacing critical components: Submersible pumps’ worn or damaged components, especially O-rings and seals, should be replaced to prevent fluids from leaking into the pump's casing.
  • Protecting components: Electrical components within the motor should be protected from moisture and appropriately grounded to avoid electrical issues, including possible motor failure; those tasked with this must also be well-trained to make accurate diagnostic decisions.
  • Prevent overheating: Most pumps need proper ventilation to prevent overheating; however, submersible pumps' coolant is the fluid in which they’re placed, so debris must be kept clear of the pump intake to avoid overheating.
  • Pressure: Pressure settings should fall within acceptable ranges for the submersible pump and application, as excess pressure strains any pump, which can then limit its lifespan.  
  • Inspections: Visual inspections of the pump and motor, along with all electrical connections, should be done to identify any corrosion, damage, or leaking that may occur; additionally, atypical vibrations or noises coming from submersible pumps may also imply a problem.
  • Fluid levels: With submersible pumps, this is even more critical, as the fluid also cools these pumps; a cutoff device should be installed so these pumps won’t run dry.
  • Cleaning: Periodic cleaning of submersible pumps should take place to keep them running optimally; to prevent blockages, the lid of the pump should be opened, with any filter baskets within it cleared of any sediment or debris.  
  • Assistance from professionals: When significant concerns arise with submersible pumps' functionality, it’s best to contact professionals to inspect them and diagnose any issues. Then, repairs or replacements can be made as recommended.

Regular maintenance that includes following the above tips will ensure a longer life for a submersible pump. It will also improve its efficiency and reliability, ensuring it continues to work optimally throughout its lifetime.

Submersible Pumps from Hayes

As the largest distributor of commercial, industrial, and municipal pumps throughout the Atlantic Northeast, Hayes Pump offers submersible pumps from several different manufacturers. We also supply parts and ancillary products for submersible pumps to ensure optimal operation.

Hayes supplies submersible pumps under brands that include: 

  • Flygt: Hayes Pump provides both authorized sales and service for Flygt products, including submersible pumps for various applications.
  • Gorman-Rupp: With submersible pumps for various applications, Hayes Pump is a factory-trained distributor. It offers local support and inventory for its products, including as an authorized service center.
  • Goulds: Providing local support and inventory, Hayes Pump is a distributor and authorized service provider for their submersible pumps.
  • Zoeller: Hayes Pump supplies heavy-duty submersible pumps and acts as an authorized service provider.

Contact the pump experts at Hayes Pump to learn more about our selection and servicing of submersible pumps and to inquire about the best one for your application.

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