Garlock Bearing Isolator — What Exactly it is and Why You Need One

“A bearing isolator is an advanced sealing solution that is used to protect bearings on rotating equipment,” said James Wong, the Product Manager for Bearing Isolators at Garlock. “They are ideal for industries that are wet, dirty, dusty, or have lots of airborne contaminants—like sugar or flour processing facilities.”

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More: Why Do Bearings Fail?

Prevents Bearing Failure in Rotating Equipment

A Garlock bearing isolator is a technology used primarily in rotating ancillary equipment—like pumps, gearboxes, electric motors, split pillow blocks, and even steam turbines. It prevents bearing failure by adding an extra layer of protection between the bearings and the outer environment.

“Bearing failure is the most common cause of failure in rotating equipment,” Wong said. “In fact, 50-80% of bearing failures in this case are either because the lubrication leaks out, or contamination gets in.”

More: Troubleshooting and Preventing Bearing, Lubrication, and Drive Failures

More Effective Than Lip Seal

Bearing isolators use labyrinth technology, coupled with a 2-piece unitized design, to prevent contamination ingress and lubrication egress. An elastometer o-ring fit even allows Garlock’s isolators to be installed by hand—without using an arbor press or other tools, without fretting on the shaft.

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The Garlock bearing isolator design is more effective than traditional lip seal technology at protecting bearings, Wong said. While a lip seal can provide a life expectancy of 6-12 months, a bearing isolator offers a life expectancy of 5 years or longer.

“Bearing isolators are used in a wide variety of industries, including everything from steel mills, to food processing, chemical processing, mining, and pulp and paper,” Wong added. “These industries are typically heavy users of rotating equipment and tend to have wet or dirty environments, where it’s a challenge to protect the bearing from premature damage.”

More: Bearing & Power Transmission Academy

5 Garlock Bearing Isolator Styles

Garlock currently offers 5 types of bearing isolators:

  • GUARDIAN—multipurpose, general service isolator; perfect for pumps and motors
  • MICRO-TEC-II—has internal, microcellular filter; ideal for dusty environments
  • SGi—shaft grounding isolator; designed for electric motors with frequency drive
  • EnDuro—can be used in completely flooded/submerged conditions
  • ISO-GARD—FDA compliant; resistant to corrosion; for the chemical and food industry

About Garlock

Garlock_648C_EnPro_1The Garlock family of companies is a division of EnPro Industries. Founded in 1887, the company today produces cutting-edge sealing solutions, including bearing isolators and other fluid sealing products; sheet gaskets; expansion joints; metal gaskets; and molded rubber seals. They pride themselves on 24/7 customer support, including emergency and same-day service. IBT has partnered with Garlock for over 20 years.

More: Sealmaster Bearings Save Bakery $50,000/year

Looking for Garlock bearing isolators?

Contact Tim Zerger, the Business Group Director of Bearings, PT, and Gearing at IBT Industrial Solutions, at (913) 261-2140 or tim_zerger@ibtinc.com.