All mechanical seals are constructed with the following basic sets of parts:

  • A set of (very flat) machined and lapped primary sealing faces: The very close (near) contact between these two flat mating surfaces, which are perpendicular to the shaft, minimizes leakage. Dissimilar materials are usually used for the faces, one hard and one softer, in order to prevent adhesion of the two faces. One of the faces is usually a non-galling material such ascarbon-graphite. The other surface is usually a relatively hard material like silicon-carbide, or ceramic. However, when handling abrasive, two hard surfaces are normally used:

    • One face is held stationary in a housing

    • The other face is fixed to, and rotates with the shaft.

  • A set of secondary static seals, typically O-rings, wedges and/or V-rings.

    • One static seal, seals stationary component(s) to the housing

    • The other seal, seals the rotating component(s) to the shaft (it normally moves axially on the shaft or shaft sleeve)

  • A spring member to maintain face contact, such as a single spring, multiple springs or metal bellows.

  • Other mechanical seal hardware, which includes shaft sleeves, gland rings, collars, compression rings, and/or pins.

Mechanical seals require clean water, or other compatible liquid, for the lubrication of the seal faces. The faces in a typical mechanical seal are lubricated with a boundary layer of gas or liquid between the faces. Lubrication can be provided from the pumped liquid itself or from an external source, depending on system requirements.