Types of Mechanical Seals for Centrifugal Pumps

Have you ever wondered what keeps your centrifugal pump running smoothly and efficiently? The answer lies in the mechanical seal.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the different types of mechanical seals commonly used in centrifugal pumps. By understanding the unique features and benefits of each seal type, you’ll be able to make an informed decision when selecting the best seal for your specific application, ensuring optimal pump performance and longevity.

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Types of Mechanical Seals for Centrifugal Pumps

Component Seals

Component seals consist of separate parts that are assembled during pump installation. They offer flexibility in terms of materials and configurations. However, they require careful installation to ensure proper alignment and functionality.

Cartridge Seals

Cartridge seals are pre-assembled and pre-set units. They simplify installation and reduce the risk of improper assembly. Cartridge seals are easy to replace and maintain.

Pusher Seals

Pusher seals have a spring mechanism that pushes the sealing faces together. They compensate for wear and maintain a consistent sealing force. Pusher seals are suitable for applications with moderate to high pressures and temperatures.

Non-pusher Seals

Non-pusher seals, also known as bellows seals, use a flexible bellows element to provide sealing force. They eliminate the need for springs and offer better compatibility with a wider range of fluids. Non-pusher seals are preferred in applications with high vibration or shaft misalignment.

Balanced Seals

Balanced seals have a design that equalizes the hydraulic forces acting on the sealing faces. They reduce the net closing force, resulting in lower heat generation and improved seal life. Balanced seals are ideal for high-pressure applications and can handle a wide range of fluids.

Unbalanced Seals

Unbalanced seals have a simpler design compared to balanced seals. They rely on the full hydraulic force to press the sealing faces together. Unbalanced seals are suitable for low to moderate pressure applications and are generally more cost-effective than balanced seals.

The Key Characteristics Table

Seal TypePressureFluidsTemperatureCostLifeLeakage
Component SealsLow (<10 bar)Water, oil, gases-40°C to 200°CLowMedium (2-5 years)Low
Cartridge SealsMedium (10-100 bar)Water, oil, chemicals, slurries-40°C to 250°CMediumLong (5-10 years)Low
Pusher SealsHigh (>100 bar)Water, oil, chemicals, slurries, corrosive fluids-50°C to 300°CHighLong (5-10 years)Low
Non-pusher SealsMedium (10-100 bar)Water, oil, chemicals, slurries-40°C to 250°CMediumMedium (3-7 years)Medium
Balanced SealsHigh (>100 bar)Water, oil, chemicals, slurries, corrosive fluids-50°C to 400°CHighLong (7-15 years)Low
Unbalanced SealsLow to Medium (<100 bar)Water, oil, gases, mild chemicals-30°C to 200°CLow to MediumShort to Medium (1-5 years)Medium to High 64ed75548821e 1024x769 1

Key Considerations for Choosing Mechanical Seals

Type of Fluid

The type of fluid being pumped is a critical factor when selecting a mechanical seal. Different fluids have varying properties that can affect seal performance and longevity.

Corrosive fluids may require seals made from special materials to prevent degradation. Abrasive fluids can cause excessive wear on seal faces, necessitating harder materials or special face designs.

Viscous fluids may require special consideration for seal chamber design and flush plans to ensure proper lubrication and cooling of the seal faces.

Fluid Pressure

The fluid pressure within the pump is another important consideration. Higher pressures put greater stress on the seal faces and require more robust designs.

Double seals or tandem seals may be necessary for high-pressure applications to provide additional safety and redundancy.


The temperature of the pumped fluid can significantly impact seal performance. High temperatures can cause thermal expansion of seal components, leading to distortion and leakage.

Extreme temperatures may require special materials, such as graphite or silicon carbide, to withstand the conditions. Cooling plans may be necessary to dissipate heat from the seal chamber.

Low temperatures can cause seals to become brittle and fail prematurely. Heating plans may be required to maintain the seal within its optimal operating temperature range.

Operating Condition

The operating conditions of the pump, such as continuous or intermittent duty, can influence seal selection. Seals designed for continuous operation may not be suitable for frequent starts and stops.

Pumps subject to thermal cycling or frequent changes in operating conditions may require specially designed seals to accommodate the varying loads and stresses.

Dry running conditions, where the seal faces operate without lubrication, require specialized seal designs and materials to prevent excessive wear and heat generation.

Piping and Flush Plans

The piping and flush plans associated with the mechanical seal are crucial for ensuring proper lubrication, cooling, and debris removal from the seal faces.

Inadequate or incorrect piping can lead to seal failure due to insufficient lubrication or the build-up of contaminants in the seal chamber.

API (American Petroleum Institute) flush plans provide standardized configurations for seal piping and auxiliary systems. Selecting the appropriate flush plan for the application ensures optimal seal performance and reliability.

Standards and Regulations

Compliance with relevant standards and regulations is essential when selecting mechanical seals. These standards provide guidelines for seal design, materials, and testing to ensure safety and reliability.

API 682 is a widely recognized standard for mechanical seals in the oil and gas industry. It provides detailed specifications for seal design, materials, and testing procedures.

Other industries may have their own specific standards and regulations that must be adhered to when selecting mechanical seals for centrifugal pumps.


What are the main materials used for mechanical seal faces

 The most common materials used for mechanical seal faces are carbon, silicon carbide, tungsten carbide, and ceramic. 

How often should I replace the mechanical seal in my centrifugal pump

The frequency of mechanical seal replacement depends on factors such as the pump’s operating conditions, the pumped fluid properties, and the seal materials. In general, mechanical seals should be inspected regularly and replaced when signs of wear, leakage, or damage are observed.

In conclusion

Understanding the different types of mechanical seals for centrifugal pumps is essential for optimal performance and longevity. Consider factors such as the application, environment, and budget when selecting the appropriate seal.

For expert guidance on choosing the right mechanical seal for your centrifugal pump, contact our team today.

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