A mud pump or drilling pump is a vital piece of equipment for drilling operations that is used to circulate drilling fluid downhole. Often referred to as the heart of the rig, this piece of machinery circulates drilling mud pressures of up to 7500 PSI through the drill string.

The mud pump performs several critical functions, including cooling down the drill, cleaning the wellbore, and preventing the formation of hydrostatic fluids inside.

It’s an expensive investment, which is why oilfield operators, unsurprisingly, want to make sure they’re getting the most out of the purchase. Luckily, regular maintenance and servicing, as instructed by the manufacturer, can nip most issues in the bud.

However, rough or improper use can wear the machine down fast, causing it to malfunction. This is why it’s important to know about common mud pump problems so you can quickly diagnose and repair them.

1. Leaking Liner Wash Fluid

The liner wash fluid will vary depending on the climatic conditions of the area. We recommend using clean water wherever possible; in extremely cold locations, you can use RV antifreeze.

This liner fluid moves from the tank through the spray bar and into the liner, where it cools down the area and prevents parts from overheating. If the liners are leaking, your wash fluid will be contaminated with drilling oil. As a result, the wash fluid won’t be able to cool down the system effectively.

Regularly monitor and replace wash fluid to prevent overheating that can permanently damage moving parts.

2. Drilling Fluid Cleanse

Regardless of which drilling fluid you use, it needs to be free of any impurities. Solids in the shape of mud or sand can lower the quality of the drilling fluid, which, in turn, mars its effectiveness.

A high-quality mud system is necessary to remove any mud or sand in the system. If you suspect solids in the drilling fluid, check the system thoroughly.

3. Mud Pump Cavitation

All triplex pumps require a minimum suction pressure to operate efficiently. If this pressure isn’t maintained, the pump can cavitate. Running a cavitated pump causes a host of problems, including damage to the gear end and fluid end.

Rig crews will see the equipment shaking and hear a “knocking” sound from the pump if it has undergone cavitation. These vibrations can travel down the shaft and into the main bearings, where they can destroy critical power end components. This leads to costly damages and loss of productivity.

Regular maintenance and repairs can prevent the costs associated with machine replacements and downtime. When replacing parts, always opt for high-quality materials and manufacturers.

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