How a Bearing Isolator Can Prevent Lubrication Contamination and Save Money

Did you know that the No. 1 cause of industrial equipment failure is lubrication contamination? When lubricants are kept clean and dry, they can offer years of wear protection. However, plants often struggle to achieve months or even weeks of service life between oil changes due to contamination ingress.

According to a recent article by SEPCO’s David Brewer and Steve Hall, a well-designed and properly specified oil seal or bearing isolator solves this contamination problem, even in the toughest applications.

“All bearing isolators are not created equal. Making tweaks to the isolator’s design and selecting technology designed for the equipment type can improve overall performance,” the authors explained.

What Do You Mean By ‘Design Tweaks?’

According to the article, a simpler approach can improve bearing lubrication protection.

“Understanding how a bearing system works allows the bearing isolator to be incrementally improved,” Brewer and Hall explained. “This system’s approach examines the bearing housing environment from an energy balance perspective.”

Some bearing isolators have a design tweak that keeps contaminants within the isolator and breaks down their energy to prevent this contamination during static conditions. Here’s what happens in that circumstance:

  • The moisture and dust enter the isolator, and the energy is broken down as they are forced through an axial throttling gap then a longer radial gap.
  • The contaminants are captured within the internal condensate trap and allowed to drain out through a small static weep hole at the six o’clock position of the bearing isolator.
  • And the best part? They never reach the lubricant, even during shutdown.

What About ‘Equipment-Specific Technology?’

In the article, Brewer and Hall explain that a bearing isolator with a specialized design may be needed for some equipment in order to fully protect lubricants.

And while most rotating drives will function well with a standard bearing isolator (I.e., many pump and motor arrangements) a design specific to the equipment may be needed if the application is critical or specialized.

Some examples of this equipment-specific technology include:

  • Gearboxes
  • Pillow blocks
  • Steam turbines
  • Flange-mounted bearings

Read the full article on to learn how a bearing isolator can prevent oil and grease issues, reduce lubricant use, decrease bearing failure, and save money. There, you’ll also find a case study example from an East Coast paper mill.

About the Author
Anna Claire Howard is a contributing writer, editor, and content marketing specialist for Sealing Equipment Products Co. Inc. (SEPCO) and has been since Spring 2019. Before those two big life changes, she was the content marketing specialist for Fluke Accelix; assistant editor for Grand View Outdoors, publisher of Bowhunting World, Predator Xtreme, Whitetail Journal, Tactical Retailer, and Shooting Sports Retailer; managing editor for Media Solutions, Inc., publisher of Gear Solutions, Wind Systems, and Thermal Processing magazines; assistant editor for MSI; and the editorial intern for B.A.S.S., LLC, publisher of Bassmaster Magazine and In these B2B/B2C roles, Anna Claire developed an appreciation for the industrial sector, as well as the operators and technicians who make up the workforce. You can find her on LinkedIn at

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