Shale Shaker Troubleshooting Guide

Decompose shale shaker

When shale shakers cease to operate as expected, a variety of items need to be checked and the problem eliminated. This section presents a general guideline for troubleshooting some common problems observed in shaker operations. Refer to the manufacturer’s service manual for specific or special instructions for each design.

Always contact the manufacturer’s service department when you have a situation where damage or injury could result, and especially where electrical shock hazards may exist.

Shaker Problem:Items to check:Solution:
Motor will not start/runPower supply incompatibleCheck power and wire motors
Power supply disconnectedReconnect power
Power cable failureReplace or repair cable
Motor damageReplace or repair motor
Overloaded or overheated motorReplace overload protection with
proper type and rating
Over-greasing motorsRemove drain plug before greasing;
motor must be rebuilt if damaged
Drive belt too tightAdjust according to manufacturer's
Motor overheatingMoisture in motorOpen electrical covers and allow to
dry; reseal covers properly
Undersized overload heatersReplace with properly sized heaters
Single phasingCheck that all leads are well connected and voltages are
consistent at each leg
Unbalanced terminal voltageCheck for faulty leads, connections, and transformers
Bearing failureReplace motor
Drive belt problemsCheck manufacturer's
recommendations and adjust or replace
Noisy operationWorn bearingsReplace motor
Shock mount/float mount problemsCheck for obstructions, over/under
inflation, or breakage; adjust or
Loose or cracked motor mountsRe-torque and/or replace motor
Shipping brackets not removedRemove the brackets
Damaged or cracked shale shaker basketRepair or replace after checking
with manufacturer
Object leaning against or bumping shaker basketRemove object or reposition to
prevent damage
Cuttings moving erratically
on shaker screen
Unit not levelAdjust installation to level position;
check tank for level alignment
Motor rotational problemCheck manufacturer's
Shock mount damageReplace mounts
Drive belt too tightAdjust to proper manufacturer's setting
Motor failureReplace motor
Mud overflowing shale shaker screenScreens pluggedReplace or clean screens
Wrong screensAdjust screen size up or down to
determine proper selection
Incorrect deck angleTemporarily adjust screen angle up
or down
Water-wet screens in an oil-based drilling fluidChange screens; add more oil-wetter to drilling fluid
Oversized cuttings returned to active systemTorn shaker screensReplace or repair torn or worn shaker screens
Worn tensioning deviceReplace
Leaking bypass valveRepair or replace
Worn shaker screen supportsReplace or repair
Improper screen tensioningAdjust screen tension
Drilling fluid not added to system through shale shaker screensCheck all procedures for adding or returning drilling fluid (such as from trip tanks, etc.)
No drilling fluid flowing to shale shakerValve closedOpen valve
Solids blocking valve or flow lineLocate and remove or clear blockage
Bypass openOpen bypass. Check bell nipple for overflow.
Shaker Screen failureWithin an hourHeavy solids loading. Vibrators operating improperly. Coarse formations on fine screen cloths.
Within a few hoursLoose screen cloth; Missing tension bolts or locks; Vibrators operating improperly; Damaged shaker bed; Missing channel rubbers
Improper tension.
Within a dayDamaged shaker bed; Inoperable vibrator; Extremely high mud weights; Misalignment of screens; Failure to maintain screen tension.
Within a few daysHematite used as a weighting agent; Worn channel rubbers; Worn side or cross supports; Bent drawbars.

Common Causes of Shale Shaker Screen Failure:

  1. Personnel improperly trained on handling, storage, maintenance, and installation of deck rubber and screen assembly.
  2. Improper handling during installation—screens damaged before using.
  3. Deck rubber improperly installed.
  4. Improper tension during installation. Continuous screens should be retensioned within one-half hour of installation, every four hours during the first 24 hours of operation, and once per hour thereafter.
  5. Careless storage allowing grit and sand between layers on multiple screen assembly.
  6. Tension strip improperly seated in the screen hook strip.
  7. Deck rubber is worn, damaged, or dirty.
  8. Tension rails damaged allowing improper tensioning of the screen assembly or damaging of the hook strip.
  9. Dried cuttings and drilling fluid left on screen during shutdown of shaker.
  10. Cuttings accumulate under edge of screen.
  11. Tensioned screen assemblies on shaker used as worktables
  12. Improperly manufactured screen assemblies.
Decompose shale shaker
Picture 1. Decompose shale shaker

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