Pump and Seal Reliability

The City of Chester, Illinois, was getting only about six months of life out of the mechanical seals in their former non-clog lift station pumps. While replacing seals twice per year was difficult and expensive, the more serious problem occurred when the seals failed with the Mississippi River at flood stage and with the sealed lift station underwater. The sewage pumps, which handle waste from a large state prison as well as blowdown from the local water plant, would eventually flood the pump station from within because of the seal leakage from failed seals. The cost of replacing flooded motors and controls would be clearly unacceptable.

Vaughan Company’s sales representative, Municipal Equipment, proposed a solution to replace the original non-clog pumps with two Vaughan 6-inch discharge pedestal chopper pumps using Vaughan’s more durable flushless cartridge mechanical seal. To save the city money, Vaughan Company designed a custom motor mounting stool to accommodate the existing dual speed 75/33 horsepower, 1750/1170 RPM motors. Vaughan Company’s chopper pumps were able to provide the same performance as the original non-clog pumps while also providing Vaughan’s chopping capability with no power requirement penalty. To make this change the city sent one motor at a time to Vaughan Company while one pump stayed in service. Within a few months, both Vaughan chopper pumps had been installed and started up.

After more than five years not one mechanical seal has required any attention in either of these pumps. This kind of service suggests that the robustness built into the Vaughan flushless cartridge seal is paying real dividends to the City of Chester. The plant superintendent, Kenny Surmann, is also sleeping much better at night now, especially when the Mississippi floods its banks. 

“It’s great not having to pull pumps and change seals every six months,” says Surmann. “And it’s a real peace of mind when the river is up and the station is under water.” 

Since these pumps went into service, the City of Chester has purchased additional Vaughan chopper pumps.

Vaughan chopper pump


Municipal Equipment Company, Inc. specializes in equipment for treating, moving, and storing water.  They sell and service equipment for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater applications, along with ancillary processes.

They serve customers in the municipal, commercial, and industrial market segments with a geographical territory that includes Eastern Missouri, Central and Southern Illinois, and Western Kentucky.


Dale Vaughan is president of Vaughan Company. Since company founder Jim Vaughan invented the world’s first chopper pump in 1960, Vaughan Company has been a leader in pump technology for municipal, industrial and agricultural applications. Proudly made in the USA, Vaughan’s in-house experts use computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to analyze flow patterns and velocities within its pumps to optimize efficiency, performance, and reliability. For more information, visit www.chopperpumps.com

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