How to keep hydrocyclone separators working effectively

Cleanawater on 15 March 2018

Oil water separators have become standard equipment for wastewater generators. They remove contaminants from the water so that effluent discharge meets regulatory criteria.

Cleanawater's hydrocyclone oil separators use centrifugal forces to separate oil from waste water streams. They are used in diverse industries from refineries to mining workshops, and even wash down bays. Hydrocyclone oil separators are extremely effective—removing oil up to five parts per million from wastewater.

Environmental compliance is important to wastewater generators. Non-compliance can result in large fines and causes pollution which severely damages sensitive environmental areas. For this reason, it is vital to monitor your hydrocyclone separator, and address any warning signs that may affect its operation.

The Cleanawater Installation, Operations, and Maintenance manual for the hydrocyclone separator details routine maintenance tasks. Basic operating inspections and cleaning should be done on a fortnightly basis. Every quarter, a more detailed examination of strainers and system operation should be done. Cleanawater also recommends an annual servicing cycle that includes a check on the pump performance and tightening of all connections.

Besides regular operating and maintenance checks for hydrocyclone separators, users can also perform some basic troubleshooting if the unit is not performing as per design.

7 common problems to watch out for:

1. There is low water flow (or no flow) out of the water or waste oil outlet line
  • Check whether the pump is running:

    • Not running? Check circuit breakers and pump mode on the control panel.

    • Running? Reprime the pump.

    • If the pump itself is faulty, call Cleanawater on 1800 353 788 for technical support.

  • Check whether there is sufficient water in the wastewater sump and that the level switch is operating correctly.

  • Check for blockages in the suction line and floating skimmer.

  • Inspect the waste oil reject orifice as per instructions in the maintenance manual.

  • Check and clean the debris strainer.

2. There is no water or high water in the waste oil decant tank (under normal operation there should be a water level in this tank)
  • Inspect internal hydrocyclone components to find problem in performance.

  • Inspect inlet sampling point to see if water is flowing through the sleeve.

  • Check for blockages in waste oil reject orifice.

  • Verify pressure regulation valve setting on treated water outlet.

  • Check and clean the debris strainer.

  • Inspect and clean waste oil decant tank of sludge.

3. The pump overload keeps tripping
  • Pump is not getting enough airflow to cool down. Move pump to ventilated area.

  • Pump motor is faulty. Call Cleanawater for technical support.

  • Electrical fault on circuit breaker. Call a qualified electrician to check the system.

Seven common hydrocyclone separator problems and their solutions pump and circuit breaker image

4. The hydrocyclone separator will not switch on/off
  • Check all circuit breakers and power switches are on.

  • Check control panel mode. Switch to manual or auto as desired.

  • Check float switch operation manually. Clean or change if necessary

5. There is oil present in the water discharge
  • Check whether an oil spillage has overloaded the system. Attend to the spill first.

  • Inspect the waste oil decant tank. Dispose of oil if the tank is full.

  • Make sure no unapproved degreasers and detergents are being used in the system. Contact Cleanawater for technical support to handle emulsions.

  • Examine the treated water discharge of the separator. A blockage will affect the performance of the unit.

Seven common hydrocyclone separator problems and their solutions oil and water separation image

6. There is an odour coming from the oil water separator
  • Check that the pump is running on automatic mode correctly.

  • Inspect the sump for build-up of sludge. Pump out if necessary.

  • Flush out wastewater pit with clean water to process stagnant water.

  • Arrange for hydrocyclone separator service by Cleanawater technicians.

7. The debris strainer gauge reading is out of the safe zone
  • Clean the debris strainer immediately. This requires a system shutdown which should be performed according to the instructions in the maintenance manual. Remove sludge and debris from the pit at the time of cleaning the strainer.

Contact Cleanawater for more information about troubleshooting your oil water separator

Cleanawater technicians are highly trained in the operation and maintenance of hydrocyclone separators. We can assist you to diagnose problems and provide solutions to resolve them.

Find out more at Cleanawater, or call our expert team on 1800 353 788 today to request service support for your oil water separator.