How to Grease Fan Bearings for Installation and Maintenance

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times. Lack of bearing lubrication is one of the most common causes of failure in an industrial fan. There’s only one way to avoid that type of failure, and that’s proper, regular management of fan bearing grease. But we don’t always go into much detail about how to do that.

The video above and the nuggets below will give you all the clues you need about what to watch for and even the details of how to apply fan bearing grease. And of course, you know you can always reach out to our applications engineers for direct custom assistance. Let’s dig into how to grease fan bearings.

Pivotal Moments for Fan Bearing Grease

Actually, every moment counts when it comes to fan bearing grease. But they really all add up to two key categories of pivotal moments. First, there’s ensuring proper lubrication upon installation. Second, there’s ensuring proper lubrication across the life of the fan bearings. If you do it right, that life will reach its potential. If not, they will meet an early end.

Ensuring Proper Lubrication Upon Installation

Please don’t make the mistake of assuming the fan bearing grease is “all set for a good long time” upon arrival from the factory. It might well be pre-greased. That’s a good start. But we recommend doing two things before start-up:

Double-check that the grease is full. If your bearings have seals that purge excess grease, you can do that by adding a little bit while spinning the shaft and ensuring that a little residue comes out of both sides all the way around. Even if it was pre-greased at the factory, depending on shipping time and pre-installation storage, you might need to top it off. If you have split pillow block bearings, pop the caps off of the bearing housing to check that there is grease in the lower half.

Check the Installations, Operations & Maintenance (IOM) manual to make sure you document the recommended maintenance schedule and fan bearing grease levels. Don’t assume it will be “a while” before you need to add grease. You might need to lubricate your fan bearings as often as twice a week. Don’t find out the hard way.

Ensuring Proper Fan Bearing Grease Maintenance for the Life of the Bearings

This one is simple, but not always easy, because you can never let up. Here’s what to do:

  • Consult the IOM manual that you get from your fan bearing manufacturer.
  • Document the recommended fan bearing grease schedule.
  • Follow it.
  • Don’t mix your grease.

Centrifugal fans are high-wear machines. They’re spinning fast. A lot of times they’re at the top of the rotation range that you’re allowed to get to with these bearings. That means you’re always running up against forces that could shorten the bearing life if you’re not meticulous about maintenance.

On the other hand, when you are diligent and meticulously follow the IOM schedule, you can maximize the L-10 life of the bearings. That’s what you want!

Another important caution is not to mix your fan bearing grease. If you need to switch to a different grease for some reason, you’ll need to purge the grease fully, take the bearing completely apart, wipe it down with cleaner, and put your correct grease in. Don’t tempt fate by mixing.

How to Grease Fan Bearings

We’ve told you why and when, but not exactly how yet. The best way to learn is to watch this 5-minute video and then contact our application engineers or your fan bearing manufacturer with questions. But just a few key pointers will get you started:

  • Get an automatic grease gun and the correct grease for your fan bearings.
  • Place the pointed end of the grease gun completely over the zerk valve fitting so the grease properly goes into the bearing cavity.
  • Double-check the IOM manual to be sure that you fill in an amount according to the IOM recommendations.

Hear it from an Application Engineer

Chet White, Senior Application Engineer / Sales Manager, and Assembly Supervisor Clint Zwaard show details of each of how to grease fan bearings in this 5-minute video.

To determine the right specifications for your centrifugal fan application, reach out and connect with one of our application engineers to discuss the details of your project.

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