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Whoever originally said “a stitch in time saves nine” got it right on. (It sounds like something Ben Franklin wrote in his “Poor Richards Almanac” but I’m not going to take the time to google it right now.)
A lot of the pressure washers & paint sprayers that are brought to us for repair would cost their owners a lot less to repair if they had brought them much sooner. Both of these types of pumps develop pressures of at least 3000 psi.
3000 PSI doesn't sound like much until you imagine a cube so dense that a cubic inch (meaning every side of the cube is one inch) weighs 1 ½ tons. I don’t think there’s anything on earth that dense but let’s just imagine that cube was just gently placed on your toe. Result? Broken bones and toe made flat like a pancake. Bear with me here, I’m going somewhere with this. (I hope I don’t lose my way) The point is that 3000 PSI doesn’t sound like much but is indeed a lot of force.
OK, 3000 PSI in the pump and a little nick is scratched on the edge of some soft seal that seals against a much harder metal surface. Let’s imagine the tiny opening results in an opening that’s only 0.002” in diameter. The liquid, which always takes the path of least resistance, is going to squirt through the opening.
If you, the operator of that piece of machinery, recognized that there is a little fluid (paint, water, etc) leaking, or noticed that the pump is not running as efficiently as before, and you went ahead got that pump serviced soon after you this leak starts, you could get by with just replacing those relatively inexpensive seals.
If you however decided you can live with the irritation and decided to keep running until it just wouldn’t get the job done anymore, that tiny stream that kept squirting through the tiny opening started eroding the very smooth metal surface, much like a river erodes a canyon but on a much tinier but accelerated scale. Now we’re talking about replacing a much more expensive part, or more typically multiple parts, like a piston, cylinder, or manifold, because a seal will no longer seal the surface that has a groove worn onto it.
Moral of the story, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is an often used phrase, but if it’s broke just a little bit, you will probably be better off getting it fixed before it becomes broken a lot.This applies actually to just about anything you can think of.
Remember the stitch in time.