To get the best performance and longest life out of your aeration pump, its important to remember to perform some routine maintenance every now and then. This sounds a lot more complicated than it really is.
For the most part, all aeration pumps (and there are primarily 3 kinds - linear, rocking piston, and rotary vane) are meant to run continuously, and by that I mean 24/7, non-stop, for days on end. Most can run for years without any real issues.
But to keep them working well, you want to remember two things (see I told you it was simple). Change the air filter as required and keep the diaphragms or piston seals up to date and happy.
The Air Filter
The air filter probably sounds straightforward, and it is. The pump will draw air into it, in order to produce air on the output...so the cleaner this filter is, the better it will perform. The filter keeps dust, debris, and other unwanted materials from getting inside the pump where they might do some damage. And if a filter get's all dirty and gummed up, well, that's obviously going to restrict air flow into the pump.
The frequency of changing these filters depends a lot on just how dirty or dusty the area is around the pump. We've found some that were absolutely filthy when they got returned for maintenance, and this isn't really a good thing. I mean you want to try and keep them protected as much as possible, so putting them in a vented, weatherproof cabinet, or a decently clean outbuilding helps a lot.
The filters on the rocking piston and rotary vane compressors are normally just a corrugated paper filter, housed in a metal canister. Linear compressors have flat poly filters, much like you would see on an air conditioner that works well. Most manufacturers will suggest changing these out every 3 to 6 months and that's probably a good frequency to use, however we've found some that could go longer, even up to a year with no issues. So use your own best judgment on when to change filters out...just remember, the cleaner they are, the better the pump will perform.
Diaphragms And Piston Seals
Linear compressors, which are usually used in shallow water or smaller ponds, use diaphragms to create the air.
These will eventually wear out and you'll either see air production stop or drop off, or the pump may stop altogether. When you see this, the pump should be unplugged immediately, and all the diaphragms should be replaced.
The diaphragms are basically small rubber plates that are held inside chambers within the pump.
Replacing them usually only takes 10 to 20 minutes with a few simple tools and you can be back up and running again.
The operational life of the diaphragms can vary a bit depending on the depth of the pond, but overall most should run out to a year or more between changes. Some may go several years before you see any significant drop in air output.
Diaphragm replacement kits are available for all the linear compressors that we carry and virtually every major manufacturer will have them as well.
Piston Seals are used on rocking piston compressors, which are by far the most popular pump used on large ponds with any significant depth.
This design makes for a very efficient, long running, high air producing compressor that will handle, in some cases, depths down to about 50'. They will also easily run multiple diffuser locations which is essential for larger ponds.
Rocking piston compressors, like the linears, don't require a lot of maintenance, other than filter replacement as needed, and replacing the piston seals when required. They don't require oiling, which is a common question that comes up.
In order to create the compression that produces the air, a good secure seal must be maintained around the piston and chamber. To do this, rubber seals are used, but of course, rubber will eventually wear down through use, and when this happens you'll notice a significant air drop out of the diffusers in the pond.
When you see this, you simply turn the pump off (unplug it) and most people have seal repair kits on hand, which includes the piston seals and some chamber seals that replace all the old one's in the pump. Normally this process will take less than a half hour, and you'll only need a few simple tools.
Most rocking piston compressors will run at least several years continuously before this needs to be done. In some cases we've seen pumps run up to 10 years continuously before air drops off which is quite impressive!
Rotary vane compressors may need to have vanes replaced or updated from time to time, as well as the air filter periodically.
But you can probably gather from all of this that most of these compressors are very durable and will require very little effort to maintain them on your part. I like the sound of that!