Get Pumped

May 1, 2002
Time and money are two valuable commodities, but when both are in short supply, equipment rental can be the answer. That is often the case with renting

Time and money are two valuable commodities, but when both are in short supply, equipment rental can be the answer. That is often the case with renting pumps. It's important to rent wisely, as the wrong rental can waste both time and money.

The process of renting pumps is more than just getting the customer out the door with products in his or her hands. With renting comes the responsibility for ensuring the client has the right pump for the job, the pump is in prime condition to handle the job and the client understands how to use the pump, says Del Ritz, Wellpoint division salesperson for Thompson Pump & Manufacturing.

“Construction pump rental customers need to be prepared to answer a lot of questions,” he says. “At Thompson, we like to make sure we fully understand all the specifics about the intended application before we rent out a pump. The more we know, the better we can be at recommending the right pump for the job.”

Most contractors and pump manufacturers agree that one of the most important issues in renting pumps is the intended application. “There's a big difference between the casual dewatering of a site caused by a bit of rain and a more intense application to divert a strong and constant flow of water,” Ritz adds.

Those differences dictate the lift, head and flow capability requirements. With all the potential variables, it is easy to understand the importance of renting from a source that can guide the proper pump selection.

Occasionally, contractors find pursuit of the right pump is hindered when a manufacturer stretches the capability of its pumps in written specifications and pump curves.

Construction pump contractors are also wise to make sure that the right engines are used. An engine that is set to run higher in order to make up for a lack of power may temporarily increase the pump's flow capacity but will ultimately burn fuel and wear out the engine. Plus, the pump will have no further capacity or standby capacity in case there's a surge of water because of increased or uneven flow.

“If a contractor is facing a situation where there is a lot of air in the water, they should look for pumps that can generate suction,” says Dale Conway, vice president of engineering and quality at Thompson. “Additionally, contractors have to look at the size of the solids and abrasiveness when determining the best pump for the job.”

Rental contractors also like to find pumps that are easy to operate, with user-friendly controls and gauges that are easily accessible and readable. Training improves the level of confidence renters have when selecting the right pump for the job. That's one of the reasons behind Thompson's Pumpology School, a regularly scheduled two- to three-day educational program Thompson hosts for its contractors and rental personnel. Graduates of the program, called pumpologists, are more familiar with pump applications, usages and ultimately, how to determine the right pump for the job.

Most pump contractors agree that selecting the right pump for the job means they should be able to complete the job without failure and in a shorter time period than the competition. “We do wellpoint, and if the pumps don't work, we can't work,” says Tom Opfer, president of East Coast Underground. “That's why we use a company we know we can depend on.”

Often, contractors will rent pumps to fill an unusual need required by a contract. “When a specific job requires bypass or dewatering, and we don't want to buy a pump — renting works out great,” says Bronson Nichols of Ground & Pipe Technologies in Andalusia, Ala.

“We've had emergency repair situations arise when all our pumps were already out, so we rented out the entire job from Thompson,” says Opfer. Knowing the kind of equipment a pump rental company carries is valuable, especially when last minute urgent requests arise.

“I've been buying and renting pumps from the same company for more than 18 years,” says Opfer. “The reason is simple — the quality of the service and the materials.”

Pump renters agree there is no substitute for working with an experienced pump rental company when it comes to analyzing specs, anticipating challenges and ultimately deciding upon the proper equipment for the job.

Bronson Nichols values the amount of educated advice and support he gets on the sanitary sewer bypassing jobs he handles. “When you aren't sure what size pump to use, or the size engine you need, it's nice to know you can call, and your pump contractor will come right out and help you determine the right pump for the job … whether it's in the field or in the conference room,” Nichols says.

Lisa Blythe is director of public relations at Benedict Advertising, Daytona Beach, Fla.