Dental Vacuum Pump Troubleshooting and Common Questions | Atlas Resell Management

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Dental Vacuum Pump Troubleshooting and Common Questions

Dental vacuum pumps are one of the most important pieces of equipment in your operatory. You can’t afford to have your vac system down for long.

Have a problem with your pump? Here are our answers to the most common questions we receive about dental vacuum pumps, plus solutions to common troubleshooting issues.

What’s the difference between wet vacs and dry vacs?

Wet vacs, or wet-ring dental pumps, use water to create vacuum pressure. They are usually very reliable but require a lot of water, an average of 360 gallons a day, to operate.

Dry vacuum pumps create vacuum pressure by pumping air out of the vacuum chamber. They require much less water than wet vacs.

For more info, read our blog post on the main differences between these 2 types of dental vacuum pumps.

What’s the most common brand of wet vacuum pump?

Your mileage will vary, but the VacStar series is the most popular line of wet vacs in our store. VacStars are valued for their reliability and oil-free operation.

What does a vacuum water filter do, and is it absolutely necessary?

While not required, a water filter prevents clogs that impede vacuum pump function. Without one, your vacuum pump will probably fail more frequently. A water filter can significantly extend the life of your pump.

During a water outage, how long can I run my wet vacuum pump without water before causing damage?

Running a wet-ring pump without water will damage the internal ceramic seal. Our advice: Never operate a wet-ring vacuum pump without water.

Some dentists will recommend getting a shop vac for emergencies like this. If you go this route, make sure it’s only temporary, and fix or replace your wet vac ASAP.

Is an overhead pipe design in my clinic an appropriate design for my vacuum pump system?

Probably not. Vacuum pump plumbing systems should be designed to work with gravity, not against it. This is especially important if you’re using a wet vac.

An uphill vacuum pump system is not a good idea.

Should I always run both pumps on my dual vacuum pump unit?

If you have a dual vac setup and one pump delivers adequate vacuum, we suggest only running that pump. This will save money on your water and power bill. Use the other pump only as a backup unit.

I have a slow water leak coming from my wet vacuum pump. What is causing the leak and how do I fix it?

Check the water line filter for obstructions or clogs.

Also, have a technician inspect the vacuum breaker. You will need a vacuum breaker repair kit to fix the vacuum breaker. You can usually find the kits at large commercial plumbing suppliers.

My vacuum pump keeps experiencing pressure loss. What should I do?

In this situation, there are a few items to troubleshoot. Check for blockages and kinks in the lines. Also, ensure that the pump is not pulling uphill for long distances.

If you’ve ruled out those two causes, disconnect and plug the operatory vacuum connections, then disconnect the pump and replace it with a hand vacuum pump and gauge. If you are unable to pull consistent vacuum pressure, then there is likely a leak in one of your lines. You can use an inspection camera or the help of a dental technician to locate the leak.

If the pressure loss happens at the same time each day, check to see if something else is using a large amount of water at the same time, possibly hogging the water pressure. Contact a plumber for help if needed.

Why does my vacuum pump stink like sewer gas?

This type of odor is abnormal. The most likely cause is the plumbing trap in or near your vacuum breaker valves. Sewer gases can get pushed up through the trap, especially if the drain hasn’t been used in a while.

If possible, remove the trap and cap/seal off the drain until you’re ready to use it.

Learn More

Need clarification on vacuum pressure, Hg, and what it all means? We’ve put together a post about Hg and vacuum pump strength.

Ready to purchase a replacement or backup vac pump? Check out 4 things to consider when buying a dental vacuum pump.