Do Mechanical Seals Require Seal Water

Mechanical seals are critical components in many industrial applications.

They prevent leakage and ensure efficient operation of pumps and other rotating equipment.

But do all mechanical seals require seal water to function properly?

Let’s explore this question and understand the role of seal water in mechanical seals.

mechanical seal 1

What is Seal Water

Seal water is a liquid used to lubricate and cool mechanical seals in pumps and other rotating equipment. It is typically clean water or a water-glycol mixture that is pressurized to a level slightly higher than the process fluid pressure.

The seal water is introduced into the seal chamber between the rotating and stationary parts of the mechanical seal. It helps to reduce friction, dissipate heat, and prevent process fluid from entering the seal chamber and causing damage.

Do Mechanical Seals Require Seal Water

No, not all mechanical seals require seal water. Some mechanical seals are designed to operate without external flush, while others rely on the process fluid itself for lubrication and cooling.

Functions of Seal Water in Mechanical Seals

  • Cooling: Seal water helps cool the seal faces, preventing overheating and potential damage to the seal components.
  • Lubrication: It lubricates the seal faces, reducing friction and wear, thereby extending the lifespan of the mechanical seal.
  • Flushing: Seal water flushes away contaminants and debris from the seal faces, maintaining cleanliness and preventing damage or performance issues.
  • Pressure Equalization: It helps equalize pressure across the seal faces, which prevents leakage and ensures consistent sealing performance.
  • Barrier: In double seals, seal water acts as a barrier fluid, preventing process fluid from escaping and ensuring the integrity of the sealing system.

Factors Affecting Seal Water Requirements

Seal design, materials and arrangement

Different seal designs have varying water needs based on factors like seal face lubrication and cooling.

The choice of seal face materials also affects water consumption.

Additionally, the seal arrangement, such as single or double seals, influences the required water flow rates.

Process fluid properties

High temperatures and pressures of the process fluid often necessitate increased water flow to maintain proper seal lubrication and heat dissipation.

Contamination in the process fluid can also demand higher water flow rates to prevent seal face damage and ensure reliable operation.

Shaft speed and equipment operating conditions

Higher shaft speeds generate more heat at the seal faces, requiring greater water flow for cooling.

Challenging operating conditions, such as frequent starts and stops or exposure to abrasive particles, may necessitate increased water consumption to maintain seal integrity and prevent premature failure.

Environmental regulations

Stricter regulations may limit the allowable water consumption or discharge, pushing for more efficient seal designs and water management practices.

Water conservation initiatives often drive the adoption of water-saving technologies, such as seal water recirculation systems or air-cooled seals, to minimize water usage while maintaining seal performance.

Optimizing Seal Water Usage

Monitor Seal Water Pressure and Flow

Regularly check the seal water pressure and flow rate. Ensure they are within the recommended range for the specific mechanical seal. Adjust the pressure and flow as needed to maintain optimal conditions.

Use Flow Control Valves

Install flow control valves in the seal water line. These valves regulate the water flow to the mechanical seal. They help maintain a consistent flow rate and prevent excessive water usage.

Implement a Seal Water Recovery System

Consider using a seal water recovery system. This system collects the used seal water and filters it for reuse. It reduces the amount of fresh water needed and minimizes wastewater generation.

Regularly Maintain the Mechanical Seal

Replace worn or damaged seal components promptly. Ensure the seal faces are clean and properly lubricated. Regular maintenance helps prevent leaks and excessive water consumption.

Use Appropriate Seal Materials

Select seal materials that are compatible with the process fluid and operating conditions. Using the right materials minimizes wear and tear on the seal faces. This reduces the risk of leaks and excessive water usage.

Monitor Water Quality

Regularly test the quality of the seal water. Ensure it is free from contaminants that can damage the mechanical seal. Use water treatment systems if necessary to maintain the required water quality.

Train Personnel

Provide training to personnel responsible for operating and maintaining the mechanical seals.


What types of mechanical seals typically require seal water

Mechanical seals handling high-temperature, high-pressure, or hazardous fluids often require seal water to ensure proper operation and maintain safety. Examples include seals in refineries, chemical plants, and power generation facilities.

Can a mechanical seal fail if seal water is not provided

Yes, if a mechanical seal is designed to operate with seal water and it is not supplied, the seal faces can overheat, leading to premature wear and failure. Lack of seal water can also allow process fluid to leak into the atmosphere.

How is seal water typically supplied to a mechanical seal

Seal water is usually supplied through a separate piping system connected to the seal gland. The water is pressurized to maintain a higher pressure than the process fluid, preventing leakage and ensuring proper lubrication and cooling.

What are the requirements for seal water quality

Seal water should be clean, free of particulates, and chemically compatible with the seal materials and process fluid. The water should also be at the appropriate temperature and pressure as specified by the seal manufacturer.

Can other fluids be used instead of water for seal flushing

Yes, in some cases, other fluids like oil, glycol, or barrier gases can be used for seal flushing, depending on the application and seal design. The choice of flushing fluid depends on factors such as process fluid compatibility, temperature, and pressure.

What happens if the seal water pressure is too low

If the seal water pressure is too low, it may not effectively prevent process fluid from entering the seal cavity, leading to seal contamination and failure. Low seal water pressure can also result in insufficient lubrication and cooling of the seal faces.

How much seal water flow is typically required for a mechanical seal

The required seal water flow rate depends on factors such as seal size, operating conditions, and the specific seal design. Seal manufacturers provide guidelines for the minimum and maximum flow rates required for proper operation.

In conclusion

Mechanical seals are critical components in pumps and rotating equipment that prevent leakage.

While some mechanical seals are designed to run dry, most require a clean, cool lubricating fluid, such as seal water, to function properly and maximize seal life.

To learn more about selecting the right mechanical seal and seal water system for your application, contact a trusted seal manufacturer or supplier today.

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