Routine tasks to care for your oil water separator

Cleanawater on 28 September 2021

All mechanical equipment needs regular monitoring and servicing to prolong the life of the equipment, reduce the risk of a breakdown, and keep the equipment running as per design. This principle applies to cars, pumps, compressors and, of course, to oil water separators.

Failing to care for an oil water separator could lead to severe consequences, including environmental incidents, fines, or even site shutdown.

At Cleanawater, we can provide expert advice about servicing and maintenance for your oil water separator. Read on to find out more about the servicing and maintenance support for our oil water separator range.

The consequences of oil water separator failure

The obvious consequence of oil water separator failure is that oil could carry through with the water to the sewer discharge. This contamination has negative impacts on downstream wastewater processing plants, which use bacteria to digest organic waste. High oil levels in the wastewater can kill the active bacteria causing the wastewater plant to lose capacity or even shut down. Additionally, oil that gets through to the wastewater plant could eventually migrate into the environment causing damage to plant and animal life.

However, there are also regulatory consequences to the failure of an oil water separator. Every business discharging wastewater to the sewer must have a permit from their local water authority. That permit specifies the pretreatment requirement for trade effluent before discharging to the sewer. Therefore, an oil water separator failure could cause a business to be non-compliant with their permit conditions. This situation could result in significant fines or even a business shutdown until the separator is repaired.

Routine preventative tasks

Routine preventative maintenance tasks can help keep an oil water separator running smoothly and prevent minor issues from becoming more significant problems. The longer a piece of equipment is left unattended, the more serious a problem may become, resulting in extended maintenance downtime with higher costs.

Some typical routine preventative maintenance tasks are as follows:

  1. Check and clean the strainer. Removing debris prevents clogging, which lowers the flow rate through the separator and thus limits its capacity. If the strainer is damaged, solid waste will enter the oil water separator and build up between the coalescing plates making it less efficient.
  2. Empty the oil drum regularly. This activity makes space for oil from the separator to be skimmed into the drum.
  3. Check that pumps are not running dry or failing to activate. This test prevents pumps from running dry and burning out or failing to start resulting in an environmental incident.

Servicing a hydro cyclone oil water separator

Cleanawater Hydrocyclone Oil Water Separator right2

Hydrocyclone oil water separators are expensive pieces of equipment that operate with precision. They are typically used in applications like the mining sector, where flow rates can reach up to 50,000 litres an hour. As such, hydro cyclone separators need to be well serviced and maintained to minimise downtime for repairs.

Essential servicing tasks for hydro cyclone separators are as follows:

  • Check the operation of the floating skimmer, the condition of the interconnecting hose and clear obstructions from the skimmer port.
  • Test the operation of level switches and automatic pump switching.
  • Remove sludge and oil from the debris strainer, cyclone, waste oil tank and separator liner.
  • Check the operation of valves and pressure gauges.

These activities should be carried out every three to six months, depending on the use. While it is possible to service a hydro cyclone oil water separator in-house, it is advisable to use an experienced contractor who understands the equipment and the industry.

Servicing a coalescing plate oil water separator

Coalescing plate oil water separators are used in many small businesses like car washes or workshops due to their flow rate capacity of up to 5,000 litres per hour. Oil water separators enable these businesses to meet their regulatory requirements and permit conditions, which often include the need for routine maintenance and servicing.

Essential servicing tasks for coalescing plate oil water separators are as follows:

  • Check the water flow rate and the visible condition of effluent water.
  • Test the operation of level switches and automatic pump switching.
  • Remove sludge and oil from the waste oil tank and from the separator itself.
  • Drain the separator and remove the media packs for high-pressure cleaning.

coalescing oil water separator stainless steel right2

Coalescing plate oil water separators should be serviced on a three to six monthly cycle. Experienced contractors can add value to the servicing function due to their expert knowledge of the equipment and the industry.

Cleanawater maintenance and servicing contracts

Cleanawater offers 24/7 support from experts as part of our comprehensive after sales service. But, besides this support available when you need it, we also provide scheduled servicing and maintenance by fully qualified technicians. This service enables our customers to meet the requirement of their permit conditions. We keep logbooks of activities so that the service history on an oil water separator is recorded for audit purposes. Using Cleanawater scheduled servicing could prevent costly fines or even shut down for failure to comply with permit conditions.

Our team at Cleanawater can help you comply with your permit conditions and minimise costly repairs associated with an equipment breakdown. Contact Cleanawater to find out more about our servicing and maintenance for oil water separators.