When the desired vacuum condition isn’t provided at a process plant, production often comes to a halt and all eyes become focused on the vacuum pump as the root cause of the problem. However, the vacuum pump usually isn’t culprit. In almost all cases, either: 1) the pump is being operated in a condition for which it never was intended, 2) one or more of the user’s interface points with the pump (suction/discharge lines, water supply, process contaminant, etc.) are being operated outside of design parameters, or 3) the vacuum chamber or vacuum lines were improperly specified. Each vacuum pumping technology will react differently to various conditions, so it’s not possible to offer a “one size fits all” answer to the problem. The following is a guide to systematically identifying the root cause of the most common problems and correcting them based on general vacuum system recommendations as well as technology-specific issues.