How to Read Pump Curves

Pump Curves for Pump Selection 101

For those in the pump industry, learning how to read a pump curve or performance curve can be incredibly useful if not downright necessary. For us here at JETT Pump, one of the ways we apply our knowledge of pump curves is to size and select the correct pump based on the conditions of a specific fluid process system.

A first look at a pump curve can confusing, in this article we hope to help those who may be checking out a pump curve for the very first time gain some insight into what a pump curve is, how to decipher the information that it charts, and how they can apply to your application. For pumps and fluid processing, it's important to know what a curve is so you can understand the different applications and how they work to give you information about your pump and how it functions.

To start, you’re probably looking at a pump curve because you have an application where there is a tank or well (wet well) full or water or wastewater that is at a lower level than where you want to move it. This is where a pump comes in. A pump is a machine that does not suck... literally. It pumps; it’s used to transfer or move a volume of water or other fluid a certain distance. Each pump is designed to be most efficient at a certain set of design points. To determine which pump will work for your application, you will probably need to consult a pump curve (or JETT Pump & Valve!).

A pump or performance curve looks like a curved line drawn on a grid or graph of vertical and horizontal lines. The curved line represents the performance of a specific pump, the pump will always run somewhere on that curve. The vertical and horizontal lines represent units of measure that help illustrate data indicating a pumps performance at each unit of measure.

How to Read Pump Curves - Blog & Latest News | JETT Pump & Valve - graph1


When reading a curve, the x-axis or horizontal line represents flow capacity, typically shown in units of gallons per minute (GPM), this is the volume of fluid that is expressed over a period of time. The y-axis or

vertical line represents total dynamic head (TDH), feet (FT) is the common unit of measure. TDH is the ability of the pump to produce energy creating discharge pressure. Conditions are measured in PSI or pounds per square inch, this reading can then be converted to feet (1psi = 2.31ft). The curve of a pump is plotted on the graph by taking these measurements. Keep in mind, numerous other factors go into what makes up a pump’s performance including the volute size, RPM, and style of pump just to name a few.

Pump manufacturers publish the pump/ performance curves for each series’ model. Frequently, the graphs will show different horsepower (HP) of the same style pump as well as different impeller diameters that will affect where your pump operates on the curve, these options help guide your selection to the best suited pump for your application. Each graph will look a little different depending on the pump or group of pumps that it represents.

Now, remember the hole with fluid in it that you want to move using a pump? Most simply put, the distance and flow of that specific application determine your operating point. There are plenty of other factors that contribute to determining what this point should be also. For example, the size of the well, requirements set in place by the city, population of the area your application is in, and land topography among other various items. That could be a whole other article for another day but you shouldn’t have to get into all that - typically, the operating point (#GPM @ #THD) for your application is determined by the engineer or designer that planned the station and took all of those other factors into consideration. (If you don’t know your operating point, don’t worry, we can help figure it out!)

The pump selected for your application will have a design curve that operates within your maximum operating point. Ideally, on the graph that point should be somewhere near the middle of the curve and close to the line, this is where the pump is most efficient.

How to Read Pump Curves - Blog & Latest News | JETT Pump & Valve - graph2

*This pump curve represents a pump that would perform well for an application with an operating point of 8GPM @ 15TDH

How to Read Pump Curves - Blog & Latest News | JETT Pump & Valve - Screen_Shot_2016-06-14_at_11

*This pump curve represents a group of pumps. An operating point of 140GPM @ 95’TDH has been selected. The pump at this point would be a 5HP pump. In this curve, we can also determine that the pump would be running at 71% efficiency. To best fit this selected application, the impeller could also be trimmed to 13.

Pump curves can look confusing and sometimes really could be, but understanding the basics can help you ensure that your pump is preforming as it should be or maybe give you some insight into part of how each pump is specially selected for your application.

Need someone to read a pump curve and find you a pump? Let us help! Contact the pump experts at JETT Pump & Valve today! 


Cla-Val Air Valves

Air Problems? Every time you replace a section of pipe or take something apart, you introduce air into your network. Air is also released whenever fluid pressure is dropped or changes direction! This air can create real problems in pipelines and...

Is your drinking water safe?

Water Quality: Is My Tap Water Safe to Drink?    The above stated question is frequently asked all over the country.  The answer depends on whether you are obtaining water from a plastic bottle, private well or from a public...

Update from JETT Pump & Valve on COVID-19

The current 'Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce,' from the US Department of Homeland Security (dated March 19th, 2020) as well as Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Executive Order No. 2020-21 (dated March 23rd, 2020)...

Successful Storm Station in Romulus, MI

JETT Pump & Valve contributed basis of design assistance and storm station supply and installation to The InSite Real Estate Industrial Warehouse project discussed in this article published by PEA: The InSite Real Estate Industrial...

ALL-TEST Pro AT5 Training Video

Find a GREAT review video for ANYONE who is using the AT5 HERE. It will answer most of the operational questions surrounding the instrument.   To order your AT5, contact Scott Sturm at today!  

Why Test Motors?

Because Motors Fail. Not all winding faults start as ground faults. Instead, they can start as a weakness in the winding insulation system that may eventually fault to ground when the motor stops running. Motor testing is integral to the...

NEW Motor Genie® App

  We are pleased to announce that the MOTOR GENIE® - Condition Calculator™ App is now available. The new MOTOR GENIE® - Condition Calculator™ App is a companion to the MOTOR GENIE® motor tester. The App allows...

The SITHE is here!!

Crane Pumps & Systems has unveiled their new chopper pump, the SITHE! Check it out in this video.   For more information call JETT Pump & Valve today at 248-673-2530 or email us at:

NEW BLADE Grinder Pump by Barnes

Crane Pumps & Systems has released a new grinder pump! Check out the new BLADE! Call JETT Pump & Valve today at 248-673-2530 for more information or email:

Crane Pumps & Systems Has A New Certification!

Just Announced: NSF61/ANSI 372 Certification for Weinman & Deming Horizontal Split Case pumps Crane Pumps & Systems has just announced the Weinman & Deming Horizontal Split Case pumps, Weinman End Suction pumps (375/575) and Burks...

What is Cavitation and What Causes It

  Cavitation is the formation and collapsing of cavities or bubbles in a liquid mostly developed in the areas which have relatively low pressure around the pump impeller. It occurs in the absence of the net positive suction head the pump....

Learn the Lingo: Glossary of Pump Terminology

Pumps provide an important role in our everyday lives. Where it is bringing us water or taking away waste, keeping pumps functioning is an important part of our daily society. To help you learn the lingo of the pump and repair world, below is a...

Wipes are Clogging Pipes in Macomb County

Macomb County and it's residents are feeling the costly effects that "flushable" wipes are having on maintenance to their wastewater infrastructure. This flyer has been distributed to some of the community's residents to bring...

Costly Clogging Problem Solved by Barnes SH Pumps

Back in 2011 Oak Hill Estates of Holly, MI was experiencing persistent recurring clogging- multiple times a week! The risk of overflowing the station during peak flow times could lead to heavy fines from the EPA. The lift station’s operator,...

New Energy Compliant Products

Crane Pumps & Systems announces its Department of Energy Compliant Products.  The Weinman® 375 / 575 Series End Suction Pumps, Weinman® 310 / 500 (G&K) Series End Suction Pumps, and Burks® GA & GB...

All About Check Valves

Check valves, also known as one-way or non-return valves, are unlike any other type of valve. They are one of the few self-automated valves that do not require any assistance to open or close - they are able to pass fluid in solely one direction on...

All About Check Valves

Check valves, also known as one-way or non-return valves, are unlike any other type of valve. They are one of the few self-automated valves that do not require any assistance to open or close - they are able to pass fluid in solely one direction on...

Variable Frequency Drives 101

Utilizing pumps on a regular basis can be a costly operation; they can run for hours at a time and require a tremendous amount of power to run. We all know (or might not know) that energy efficiency starts with motor speed control. To keep things...

IWAKI AIR AODD Pumps now at JETT Pump

  JETT Pump & Valve, LLC now proudly distributes IWAKI AIR! Iwaki Air AODD pumps or Air Operated Diaphragm pumps are engineered for maximum utility. They are portable and easy to install, operate, and maintain. Infinitely variable...

What Happens After the Flush

What Happens After the Flush? “Outta sight, outta mind” is the attitude most of us have when flushing a toilet. We don’t want to think about it or ask about it, but someone has to answer it. So what really happens after you...

#TBT JETT Pump Solves Clogging

Costly Clogging Problem Solved by Barnes SH Pumps #TBT Throwback Thursday! Back in 2010 the City of Inkster, MI was experiencing persistent recurring clogging- almost every 48 hours! And sometimes after only ten minutes of being unclogged!! The...

Preventative Motor Testing

JETT Pump & Valve, LLC Adds Preventative Motor Testing Waterford, MI March 1, 2016, JETT Pump & Valve, LLC is pleased to announce that they have added a new manufacturer, ALL-TEST Pro, LLC to their extensive product line. This new...

Walchem Liquidation Sale

Walchem On Sale - Going on NOW! Check out the start of our Walchem Liquidation Sale on eBay! There are some new in box older model metering pumps posted right now, take a look! JETT Pump on eBay    

Learning About Lift Stations

Lift Stations: The Basics JETT Pump & Valve, LLC provides a variety of services for municipal, industrial, and commercial customers. Lift stations are commonly our patients for the services we preform. Most people are not familiar with what a...

7 Deadly Toilet Sins

Don't Flush This! The universe gave us both toilets and trash cans, and each are to be used responsibly! When you flush things down the toilet, they simply don’t just disappear. By doing so, you are allowing it to enter into the...

Welcome to Our New Website!

We've added great new features and updated our content to bring you the most up to date information about our company.  Check back often for updates.