Costly Mistakes to Avoid:
Taking a Heat Exchanger Out of Service
March 1, 2009
The last thing anyone wants is to take a heat exchanger out of service for repair only to have it fail soon after it has been re-commissioned or not perform the way it was designed. This is a story that is told all too frequently.
When taking a heat exchanger out of service for repair there are a number of things to consider. Since you have a finite amount of time before the unit is costing you production/money, it is imperative to take care in selecting your repair company.
It is not always best to select the company closest to your plant or the one that promises the best turnaround time. Select a repair company that is qualified at making repairs and that has a defined set of procedures for repairs. The company you select should have a quality control department that tests the repairs to ensure that when the unit is put back in service it operates the way it was designed to perform.
Many times, shortcuts are taken just so the unit can be done quickly and returned to service only to fail a short time later. One common shortcut is to use materials that are on hand but different from those that are required. While this gets the unit back in service, it could affect the fouling factors, causing the unit to operate differently from that of the intended design. Now, instead of providing, for example, 10,000 BTU/hr, it provides only 9,000, thus not working effectively and leaving your process in jeopardy.
Since time is always against you, there are things you as an end user can do to ensure a quick turnaround such as making sure the unit is thoroughly cleaned and that all MSDS sheets are sent to the repair company ahead of time. Repair companies and equipment manufacturers are not chemical companies and usually are not set up to deal with the harsh chemicals that the units see in service. It is also helpful to supply some history about the unit, such as other repairs that have been performed and where you believe the problems lie.
Remember, you need to be partners with your supplier to ensure that the repairs are done expeditiously and correctly. The goal is to get you back on line as quickly as possible with as little headache as possible.
401 N. Rice Ave
Oxnard, CA 93030
Phone: (805) 351-8400
Fax: (805) 351-8429