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HEAT EXCHANGERS INSPECTION

Topics covered

Basic Types of exchangers


1. Shell & Tube
a. Removable bundle
b. Fixed tubesheet

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2. Air coolers
a. Single pass

b. Multi-pass

Check E8515

c. Plug headers

d. Flanged header covers

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E8515

Exchanger functionality
1. Heat transfer (simple liquid/ liquid or vapor/ vapor)
2. Condensation with phase change (condensers)
3. Vaporization with phase change (heaters/ reboilers)

Operational Process basic knowledge


1. Operational process service streams
2. Operational temperature change
3. Operational pressure (if leak, which stream leak to which)

4. Process characteristics (fouling tendency, dew point issues, vaporization/ boiling/


flashing issues)

Part of exchanger
1. Shell cover
2. Channel
3. Channel cover
4. Floating head cover
5. Shell
6. Bundle
a. Tubesheet
b. Tubes
c. Tube to tubesheet assembly
i. 2 grooves mechanical expansion
ii. 2 grooves mechanical expansion + seal welded
iii. Strength weld

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d. Baffles plates
e. Tie rods
f. Slide bar
g. Sealing strips
h.
7. Plug Headers
8. Plugs
9. Nozzles (inlet/outlet/ vents / drains) gasket face
10. Fasteners (bolts/nuts/ gasket face)

Damage mechanism basics

1. Shell
a. Liquid flashing resulting erosion, location ?
b. Shell inlet erosion, localized, location?
c. Under deposit localized, location ?
d. Dew point corrosion, localized, location ?

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2. Tubes
a. External
i. Liquid flashing resulting erosion, location?
ii. Shell inlet erosion, localized, location?
iii. Under deposit corrosion, location?
iv. Dew point corrosion, localized, location?
v. Baffles fretting localized, location?

b. Internal
i. Liquid to vapor flashing erosion, location?

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ii. Dew point corrosion due to condensation, localized, location?
iii. Localised boiling/ vaporization, localized, location?

3. Nozzles
a. Internal corrosion/ pitting
i. Under deposit corrosion for small diameter drain nozzles (inspect using
RT)
ii. Vapor space dew point for small diameter vent nozzles (Inspect using RT)
iii. If high velocity is known, especially for location where ρv2
b. Gasket face damage

Inspection of exchanger
1. Tools
a. Eyes and hands
b. Visual aids
i. Small torch light
ii. Inspection mirror
iii. Magnet (fast material verification)
iv. Steel ruler/ measuring tape
c. Scraper (hamburger flipper type, and also CRA TIG wire with bend edges for
tube internal tactile inspection)
d. Pit gauge/ welding gauge
e. Wire brush (copper based/ steel based)

2. Visual inspection coverage

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a. Pre-cleaning inspection (as found). -> to confirm next step of inspection, in
particular coverage of tube testing
b. After cleaning inspection. -> to record findings and preparation for tube testing
(alignment for future results)
c. Shell external fittings, ladders, attachments
d. Covers internal and external indication of corrosion at welds/ HAZ, gasket seat
face, partition plates
e. Gasket faces of nozzles

3. Cleanliness requirement
a. Cleaning for process
b. Cleaning for visual inspection
c. Cleaning for various tube testing
i. Hydrojetting via various pressure (Hydraulic cleaning)
ii. Dry Abrasive Blasting (Mechanical Cleaning)
iii. Rotary brush (Mechanical Cleaning)
iv. Chemical Cleaning
v. HydroKinetic (sonic pulse technique)

4. Shell and cover inspection


a. NDE using thickness measurements (especially for general thinning)
b. Visual indication of localized thinning/ pitting
c. NDE will require verified calibration.
i. UT thickness measurements have limitation especially for very low
thickness =<2mm unless a focused probe and accurate calibration block
of similar material which have the similar acoustic velocity is being used.

5. Tube inspection techniques


a. Quantitative techniques (real discrete numbers)
i. Cleanliness requirement typically very high
ii. IRIS
iii. LOTIS

b. Qualitative (screening) techniques (percentage wall loss)


i. Cleanliness requirement
ii. Fill factor (OD of probe/ ID of new tube) and affected sensitivity of
indications
iii. Conventional Eddy Current (fill factor: 80 to 92%)
iv. Remote field eddy current (fill factor: 60 to 80%).
v. Partial saturation eddy current (fill factor: 80 to 92%)
vi. MFLT (fill factor: 80 to 92 %.)

c. Calibration and calibration tubes


i. Witnessing of vendors for calibration before each start of job
ii. Tubes used for calibration B359 (with internal grooves & w/o) finned
tubes

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iii. Machined defects (internal and external) with their respective amplitude
(20/40/60%)

d. Selection for sampling


i. Representative for damage mechanism (need to understand the
functionality of equipment and process in shell & tube)
ii. Representative coverage for expected damage mechanism if applied, the
circumference edges, covering each pass. Each sample line should be at
least 2 tubes width (recommended 3 tubes).

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iii. Smaller exchangers (< 100 tubes) to go for 100%

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e. Reporting
i. Type of equipment used for tube testing and technique
ii. Dimension of tubes tested (Material specification if possible)
iii. Dimension of Calibration tubes used
iv. Tubesheet summary diagram (to provide a fixed datum reference eg from
IN/OUT tubesheet and reference one nozzle eg Shell inlet nozzle) Issues
of east/ west tubesheet and without fixed datum reference cannot be
transferred once equipment brought offsite for any repair works if
required.
v. Table for reporting of defects to include in table format
1. Tube number (row / column)
2. Type of indication
3. Internal/ external
4. Depth of indication (this typical shall be at the lower bound of
defects used in the calibration tube)
5. Length and location (if possible)
6. If external calipers used, please state and report according to
measurement units of equipment.
vi. Signature of calibration tube used and also sample of 3 worst tube found

Final verification
1. Pressure test (strength test)
a. This is done 1.5 X (or 1.3 X depending on version of ASME Sec 8 used) of
design for equipment pressure with temperature correction
b. Always note the lowest test temperature (for brittle fracture consideration)
c. Cold & new
d. Repairs
e. Re-rating
f. Change of service
g. Re-entering from service after being idle in service for extended period of time.
2. Leak test
a. This done typically at 1.5X of operational pressure up to design pressure
b. Not beyond design temperature (with temperature correction)
c. Main objective no leak from equipment and flange assemblies
3. Test Medium
a. Majority used is water
b. Sometimes oil can be used, but holding time to be increased in view of detection
c. Compressed air up to 1 barG (100kPaG) can be used, typically specify for 70
kPaG (pneumatic test from compressed air has a high explosion risk)
d. Pressure test using compressed air (pneumatic test) is not recommended in view
of the stored energy.

Equipment Handover
1. Exchanger to be blown dry
2. Exchangers in cold service
a. Usage of desiccant and hot air blower, measurement at outlet low points in the
system using dew point meter.

Reference:
1. API 572 Inspection Practices for Pressure Vessels Annex A

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