Pumping Insights: blog

Should You Be Concerned About Deadheading Your Pump?

Posted by Jake Weston on Nov 20, 2023 10:36:36 AM

Technician repairing a pump after deadheadingAir-operated double-diaphragm (AODD) pumps are used across many industries in various applications, and for good reason. They are versatile, easy-to-maintain machines that avoid many pitfalls of other types of pumps. One of those problems is deadheading.


Deadheading is when a pump operates with no flow due to a blocked line or closed discharge. When this happens, the fluid recirculates through the pump, which creates a rise in the fluid’s temperature and eventually causes it to vaporize. 

You want to avoid deadheading because it’s likely to damage seals, create safety issues, and ultimately reduce the life of the pump.

Thankfully, there are a few simple ways to avoid deadheading, including selecting an AODD pump and installing accessories.


Deadheading a pump is harmful if the pump is incapable of withstanding the increased pressures that arise. Increased pressure and friction cause not only wear on your pump, but also rising heat that can cause significant failures.  That can be a big problem in some circumstances, such as when chemicals are involved. When your pump’s seals are damaged or your pump fails, there is the potential for fluid to escape the pump, exposing the environment and anyone in it to the material. If you’re pumping a hazardous chemical, your workers could be put in unsafe conditions, and it may require a call to your environmental health and safety department. Depending on the material’s volatility and the heat and pressure created in the pump, you may even face an explosive or critical failure situation.

In addition to the hazards, it’s important to consider the costs. Depending on the harshness of the material, you could risk damage to the pump’s surroundings and contamination of other liquids and processes taking place in your plant. There is also the cost of downtime and cleanup associated with pump failures and leaks.

If you’re pumping an expensive fluid, product loss due to deadheading can turn into a major expense for your operation.

Plus, there is a wear-and-tear cost to running your centrifugal pump whether it’s pumping fluid properly or not. The lifetime of any pump is only so long, and centrifugal pumps don’t have the benefit of heat or pressure sensors to alert you when your pump is in a deadhead state, stressing the pumps and its parts, ultimately shortening their lifespans.


There are a few ways to limit the risk of deadheading in your pumping operation.

You can limit your deadheading risk with some pumps, such as centrifugal pumps, by installing accessories, such as a flow meter, in your fluid handling operation. A flow meter measures the flow rate from a pump. It requires a system in place to interpret its data and signal or give feedback, such as an alarm. The downside of using after-market accessories is the cost of purchasing them and determining how to implement them from a practical standpoint. It’s not enough just to have a meter; you must find a way to access the data so someone from your team can read and act on the results. If a flow meter triggers a warning at 2 a.m. and nobody is there to act on it, the deadhead situation would persist and a pump failure could still occur.

Another solution is to use an AODD pump, which will simply stop operating if the discharge line is clogged, so there is no energy being imparted into the fluid. 

Unlike a centrifugal pump that will shift repeatedly, an AODD pump will pause until the downstream pressure is relieved. When it is, the pump will kick back on. This feature makes it easy to diagnose pumping problems. You’ll quickly notice if the pump goes quiet or if fluid isn’t pumping down the line, which will allow you to troubleshoot as needed.

To learn more about the risk of deadheading and why AODD pumps are an ideal option to avoid it, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the SANDPIPER team. One of our seasoned applications engineers would be happy to answer all your pumping questions. You can also contact your local, authorized SANDPIPER distributor anytime.

Topics: AODD Pumps

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