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Industrial Heat Exchangers

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Visual Field Inspection of Heat Exchangers

There can be various reasons to perform an inspection of a heat exchanger, the most common being; failure
cause analysis, assessment of remaining life or to gather data for replacement. The ideal situation for inspection
is to send the unit to a qualified repair shop however, that option is not always possible or practical so inspection
in the field is often necessary.

Most critical heat exchangers have an inspection and maintenance plan often using some sort of non-destructive
testing (NDT) such as; hydrostatic pressure test, ultrasonic test (UT), magnetic-particle test, liquid penetrant test,
radiographic, remote visual inspection (RVI) or eddy-current testing. All these test need to be performed by
qualified personnel so they are not part of the scope of this document. These services can be contracted out to
qualified vendors.

For heat exchangers that are not critical to a process and do not have a formal inspection and test plan a simple
field inspection might assist in;
Determining the integrity of the existing exchanger
Improve current operation of the exchanger
Determining the urgency of repair or replacement
Identifying operation operational modifications (e.g. increase or decrease flow rates)
Identify recommended design or material changes for a replacement exchanger

Checklist:

1. Obtain the Installation, Operation and Maintenance Manuals from the original equipment manufacturer.
2. If the intention is to place the exchanger back in service after the inspection, ensure at least one spare set
of gaskets are on hand.
3. If the exchanger will be out of service for some time, ensure water is drained to prevent corrosion or
freezing.
4. Develop a back-up plan in the event that the unit cannot be returned to service.
5. Prepare to take detailed notes and photographs. The information gathered during an inspection can be
very useful in the future, particularly if replacement is necessary.
6. Follow your Health and Safety Plan and all safety instruction in Installation, Operation and Maintenance
Manuals.

Report:
1. Record all the nameplate information from each heat exchanger being inspected.
2. Describe the condition of the site around the heat exchanger.
3. Identify the type of inspection you performed.
4. Describe all the major components of the equipment that were inspected.
5. Describe how the equipment was prepared for inspection (sandblasted, steamed, washed, etc.).
6. Describe any NDE that was performed and the results.
7. Address any issues mentioned in previous inspection reports. For example, if a previous report mentions
an area of pitting and gives the pit depth and size, address the same in the current report.
8. Describe all the repairs that were made and the work performed during the inspection. Describe the NDE
or tests which were performed on the equipment as a result of the repair. Give an overall assessment of
the condition of the equipment and state if returned to operations for service.
9. List any specific concerns that should be considered at the next inspection.


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Shell & Tube Heat Exchangers

(including; HVAC, TEMA type, Pre-Engineered, Hairpin and Multitube exchangers)

SHELL: Describe the condition of shell. Note if any measurable corrosion is found. Note the condition of the
flange gasket surface. Look for any unusual profiles such as out of skew flanges or out-of-round pipes.

NOZZLES: Describe any corrosion, mechanical damage or evidence previous leaking noted at nozzle gasket
locations. Describe the condition of the inside of the nozzles noting signs of erosion of fouling. If fouling is present
provide a detailed description including magnitude. Describe the nozzle gasket surfaces and if gasket surface
serrations are acceptable.

CHANNEL: Describe any corrosion or mechanical damage. If fouling is present provide a detailed description
including magnitude. Note if the channel pass partition plates are square, clean, and whether there is pitting.
Describe the condition of the gasket surfaces. Note the condition of the nozzles if they are clear and not plugged.
Note if there are Anodes attached to the channel pass partition plate and if they are found acceptable.
Photograph the channels as reference to identify the number of tubeside passes.

CHANNEL COVER PLATE: Describe any corrosion or mechanical damage. Describe the condition of the gasket
surface. Note if there are Anodes attached and if they are found acceptable.

FLOATING HEAD AND SPLIT RINGS (if present): Describe the condition of the gasket surface. Note the
condition of the split rings.

BUNDLE: Note the number of tubes, size O.D., wall thickness, material, and whether they are straight or U-tubes.
Note if any tubes are plugged and specify their location (with regard to the pass arrangement).

TUBE I.D.: Describe the condition of the tube ID noting if they are smooth and free of any significant pitting. Note
if product scale, residue, or fouling was present. Mention if the tube ends were observed to be of full thickness or
if corrosion or erosion is present.

TUBE O.D.: Note the condition of the tube O.D. surface. Note weather the tubes were smooth, corrosion present,
wear, or fouling. Note if there are any bent or mechanically damaged tubes.

TUBE SHEET: Describe the condition of the tube sheet, gasket surfaces (front and back), the tube ends (thinning
or not) and weather there are any mechanically plugged tubes.

BAFFLES: Note if there are any bent baffles and if here are signs of erosion or corrosion. Note weather the tube
holes were enlarged and if there were any damaged or cracked parts. Count the baffles. A photograph of the
baffles would be useful to determine the baffle cut.

TIE RODS AND SPACERS: Note the condition of the tie rods and spacers. Note that all nuts to the tie rods were
secure and if they are corroded and need replacing or not.

IMPINGEMENT PLATE (if present): Note the condition of the impingement plate. Note if it is secure and intact
and weather it has corrosion present.

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Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger Inspection Check List

SHELL:

Condition of shell:


Corrosion:


Condition of the flange gasket surface:


Unusual profiles (such as out of skew flanges or out-of-round pipes):


NOZZLES:

Damage / Evidence of Leaking:


Corrosion:


Condition inside (erosion, fouling, etc.):


Condition of the flange gasket surface:


CHANNEL:

Condition of Channel:


Corrosion:


Condition inside (erosion, fouling, etc.):


Condition of the Pass Partitions:


Condition of the flange gasket surface:


Anodes? - Condition

CHANNEL COVER PLATE:

Condition of Channel Cover (erosion, corrosion, fouling, etc.):


Condition of gasket surface:


Anodes? - Condition


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FLOATING HEAD AND SPLIT RINGS (if present):

Condition of Split Ring:


Condition of gasket surface:


TUBE BUNDLE:

Number Of Tubes: Tube OD: Tube Wall Thickness: Tube Material

Straight or U-Tubes? TEMA Bundle Type (if applicable):

Condition of Tubes (inside):



Condition of Tubes (outside):

#Plugged Tubes and Location:


TUBE SHEET:

Condition of Tubesheet (erosion, corrosion, fouling, etc.):


Condition of gasket surfaces:


Condition of Tube Ends

BAFFLES, TIE RODS & SPACERS:

Number of Baffles:

Condition of Baffles (deformation, erosion, corrosion, fouling, etc.):


Condition of Tubeholes:

Tie Rod and Spacer Condition:

Tie Rod Nut Condition:

OTHER NOTES: