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Troubleshooting Common Filtration Issues: Part 1, The Dread Pressure Spike

You’ve spent countless hours defining your filter process applicaton. You’ve worked with the filter supplier from every aspect of feasibility and pilot testing, installation and start-up. You have had weeks of normal operation…..HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?

One of the common causes of failure in filtration systems are pressure spikes. Operating at too high of a pressure can work against filtration by compressing the cake and pushing solids into the structure of the media. Exceeding the pressure limits can result in filter element

  • Fouling or plugging
  • Collapsing
  • Bursting

So, what do you do next to resume normal operation?

Cause of Pressure Spike

The first thing you want to do is to talk to the plant operator to determine the conditions at the time of the spike. Several common conditions that might have played a major role in this are:

  • Regulator or valve malfunction
  • High solids concentration condition
  • High flow rate condition
  • Contamination (O’ring failure)
  • Poor backwash
  • Inadequate maintenance

Secondly, you want to review operational parameters for the filter installation. Verify that the flow rate, pressure drop, and filtrate quality are within the design operational parameters.

Problem: Malfunctioning valve or regulator

Solution: Repair or replace malfunctioning equipment.

Repeat backwash and verify recovery pressure drop is within a few PSI of clean flow conditions.

If pressure drop is still high soak and backwash filters with a process compatible liquid or solvent.

Verify that product exiting the filter meets quality specifications. You want to verify you have not collapsed or burst a filter element.

You know when you are back to a routine operation when you see the pressure drop return to near clean flow conditions – and your product meets quality specifications.


Need further help troubleshooting filtration issues? We have a comphensive lab and team of engineers & scientists that can help diagnose your most difficult issues. Use the button below to contact us with questions.

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By: Louise Stange

Title: Development & Application Specialist