Heat exchangers are at the heart of many critical industrial systems. From power plants to industrial chemical plants and everything in between, the heat exchanger in all its forms is a critical aspect of heat management systems. Therefore, all organizations must take heat exchanger maintenance extremely seriously, because a heat exchanger failure can be a potentially deadly event due to risks of fire and explosions. Proper cleaning is essential in making sure that your heat exchanger is functioning properly and efficiently.
Heat exchangers work in many ways, but their essential function is always the same; heat exchangers allow systems to transfer heat out so that they can maintain temperature and pressure. Buildup of waste products, however, such as oil or dirt, can keep these systems from working properly. From clogging or hampering internal mechanisms to bridging heat exchange gaps, industrial and environmental buildup can silently and quickly compromise a heat exchanger’s ability to perform its function which can cause harmful heat buildup within the system.
Heat exchanger cleaning is a complex, multi-stage process that involves many steps. Further, proper cleaning must be carried out by a certified technician so that there is certainty that all steps are performed fully and that all regulations are followed. A few of the things that a heat exchange technician will perform include:
Multiple inspections. From as-found inspections that document that conditions of the heat exchanger when the technician arrives, to post wipe-down and after-job inspections, the heat exchanger technician will carefully inspect – and document – the state of the heat exchanger throughout the entire heat exchanger maintenance process. This helps managers and maintenance personnel to understand the condition of their equipment, to better predict when maintenance will be necessary, and to develop an overall picture of the health of their heat exchange systems.
Complete tube cleaning and coating. The exchanger tubes are essential for all heat exchangers, and these tubes must remain clean and properly coated to ensure that the exchange of heat happens efficiently. Thus, heat exchanger cleaning technicians will perform thorough cleaning and re-coating of all exchanger tubes, utilizing only industry certified techniques and materials.
Cover removal, cleaning, inspection, and replacement and tube plugging. The tube covers must be clean to ensure that there are no breaks in containment seals. Thus, heat exchange maintenance professionals will perform a thorough review of all aspects of the covers, cleaning and repairing or replacing them as necessary.
Heat exchanger maintenance and cleaning is a complex procedure that must be carried out by licensed, experienced professionals. Any mistake made during the maintenance procedure can have lasting and drastic consequences if they result in a heat exchanger failure. That is why all heat exchanger professionals are licensed, certified technicians before they are allowed to work in the field.
John Merrick is the owner and president of The Merrick Group, Inc. He has over 25 years of experience with coordinating national and international sales efforts for nuclear and fossil fuel related maintenance projects. He has successfully completed projects in over 30 nuclear and fossil fuel sites.