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What is a Reciprocating Pump? Working and Types

A reciprocating pump is a positive displacement pump in which a particular volume of liquid is collected in a closed volume and discharged using pressure for the required application. The reciprocating works on the principle of pushing the fluid through the piston, which rotates in a closed mounting cylinder.

When the piston moves the external dead center to the internal dead center and the force of the water piston at the outlet or the distribution value.


The reciprocating pump has the following major types:

1) Jet Pump

A jet pump is a self-priming pump. It doesn’t need any initial priming. It has no moving component. But these pumps have less efficiency than centrifugal pumps.

2) Piston Pump

A piston pump is a positive displacement pump in which the traditional high-pressure pump rotates on the piston. In this reciprocating pump, the piston moves backwards and forward to compress the water or other fluids.

 3) Plunger pump

This plunger pump is also a pump with an additional working volume. The working of this pump is very similar to the piston pump. A high-pressure seal is attached to this pump, and a smooth cylindrical piston passes through the seal.

4) Diaphragm pump

A diaphragm pump is an optimistic fluid pump that uses a rubber, thermoplastic or Teflon diaphragm.  Two valves connect on both sides of the diaphragm.

5) Double acting reciprocating pump

In a double-acting reversible pump, each stroke of the piston performs the functions of suction and transmission.

That’s the reason double-acting reversible pumps require two suction lines and two supply lines.

The suction stroke on one side of the piston, and the other side has a feed stroke.

Main Parts of Reciprocating Pump with their Function

A reciprocating pump has the following major components:

  • Suction Pipe
  • Suction Valve
  • Delivery Pipe
  • Delivery Valve
  • Cylinder
  • Piston and Piston Rod
  • Crank and Connecting Rod
  • Strainer
  • Air Vessel

1) Suction Pipe

It uses to suck water from the water tank into the tank.

2) Suction Valve

The suction valve is an irreversible valve through which only one-way flow is possible. It opens during liquid suction and closes during discharge.

3) Delivery Pipe

This is a pipe that uses to supply water from a cylinder to the desired location. This component of the reciprocating pump connects the outlet to the water tank.

4) Cylinder

It is empty steel or stainless-steel cylinder. It is located inside this cylinder piston and piston rod located.

5) Piston and Piston Rod

It is a complex cylindrical component that uses back and forth motion inside a hollow cylinder to suck and supply fluid. The piston moves straight because of the piston shaft.

6) Crank and Connecting Rod

A circular hard disk connected to a power source, such as a motor, engine etc., to rotate it is called a crank.

The crank and the piston connected by a connecting shaft; as a reason of this rotational movement of the crank becomes a straight movement of the piston.

7) Strainer

At the end of the suction line, a strainer is provided to prevent solid particles from entering the water source in the cylinder.

8) Air Vessel

The suction and supply lines connect with the air vessel to eliminate head resistance and ensure a high exit rate.


The reciprocating pump is very simple to start and requires an I.C or electric motor.

  1. The suction pressure provides by the piston so that the liquid can rise or be sucked under high pressure.
  2. Then compression pressure required for the energy pressure of the fluid.
  3. At this stage, the piston must perform multiple tasks so properly compressed the fluid, and its pressure can rise to the specified level.
  4. The inlet and outlet valves are opened at a constant pressure set by the manufacturer.
  5. In the same type of movement, it sucks from one side and only moves from the other side. But in a double piston pump, each stroke has the function of suction and discharge at the same time.

Check out: Different Types of Positive Displacement Pumps? 


  • A reciprocating pump is a positively displaced pump that involves moving the fluid in one direction without having to move it again.
  • This pump always starts with the outlet valve open. Otherwise, pressure will build up and break the pipe or pump.
  • This load can only be reduced when the safety valve is installed.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Reciprocating Pumps


  • The piston pump offers a high suction head.
  • This pump does not require priming.
  • Also, very excellent performance.
  • High water pressure achieved.
  • The reciprocating pump has a constant exit rate.


  1. It has extremely high wear & tear
  2. It requires very high maintenance.
  3. The flow is not strong; required to put a bottle at both ends.
  4. The flow is too small and cannot use for high-flow functions.
  5. Heavier and have a larger shape.
  6. High initial production price.
  7. More parts mean a higher upfront cost.
  8. Maintenance costs are high.
  9. No uniform torque.
  10. Low discharge capacity.
  11. Viscous liquids are difficult to pump.

Reciprocating pump applications:

  • The oil and gas industry.
  • Power plants.
  • Petrochemical and Refinery.
  • Sugar industry.
  • Soap and detergent industries.
  • Food and drink.
  • Water Treatment Plant.
  • Cryogenic application.

Check out: What is a Septic System? Types and Components

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