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How to plug Heat Exchanger Tubes?

Heat Exchanger Tubes

Heat exchanger tubes are designed to convey heat from one medium to another in a way that’s sustainable. They transfer as much energy as possible, ensuring that minimal heat is lost. Any shell and tube heat exchanger tube can fail at any time, meaning you need to replace it.

USEL Tubular Division are tube suppliers who have developed a wealth of knowledge and experience over the years, so if you’re looking for high-quality replacements, you needn’t look any further! Whether it’s a finned tube or a stock heat exchanger tube, Tube Supply (USEL Tubular Division) make sure that you find the most appropriate products for your application.

What does Heat Exchanger Plugging mean?

A heat exchanger tube is plugged to prevent tube failure. The plugs that are used are designed to extend the life expectancy of exchangers, ensuring that they perform efficiently.

For integrally finned tubes that are starting to show signs of deterioration or leaking, the plugs seal the ends of the tubes to prevent these leaks worsening. The smooth finish of the plugs makes sure that they are carefully sealed and held in place securely.

Tubes can become damaged as a result of pitting, steam erosion, corrosion and fatigue, however, the plugging process allows you to regain the efficiency of your heat exchangers!

Factors for consideration when plugging tubes:

As tube suppliers, USEL Tubular Division can help you to prolong the life of any finned tube, essentially providing you with ample opportunity to maximise your investment.

Before you plug your heat exchanger tubes, you’ll need to consider the DESIGNof the tubes. Depending on your specific requirements, the products and flow of liquids, you need to make sure that you plug tubes carefully. Some tubes are “overdesigned” and this percentage needs to be identified before you can even consider plugging them.

Which tubes do you need to repair? Are they stock heat exchangers? U Tubes? Longitudinal Finned Tubes? Generally, 10% of tubes can be plugged without losing efficiency.

Another factor that requires consideration is the CLEANLINESS of your heat exchanger tube. Make sure that it’s clean and eliminate product fouling to maximise the efficiency of your heat exchangers, this will also allow you to insert the plug with ease.

Remember that a heat exchanger plug is only a TEMPORARY FIX. Plugging heat exchangers is ideal if you need to repair tubes but it is not a permanent solution. Whilst the cause of tube failure is assessed and identified, the plug will allow you to maintain operations but most importantly, it will provide you with enough time to remove the leaking unit.

How does it work?

  • Measure materials

Before you can plug heat exchanger tubes, you need to measure the tube. Carefully measuring the tube will allow you to order the right size plug and tubes from tube suppliers, ensuring that you don’t waste your money on unsuitable products.

By choosing the right sized tubes and forged header plugs from tube suppliers, the installation process will be simplified, allowing you to replace your faulty ones effectively.

  • Clean heat exchangers

Keep your heat exchanger tubes clean at the ends. Prior to being plugged, you need to remove any grease and oil that could potentially compromise the seal.

  • Puncture tubes

Identify whether the tube needs puncturing before the plugs are installed. Puncturing the tubes will allow you to drain liquids efficiently and eliminate any pressure building up.

  • Insert plugs

Make sure that the plugs are clean before you insert them. The purpose of these plugs is to create a seal, without damaging the ligaments within the tube. Correct insertion will prevent the plug from premature failure.

Plugging Finned Tubes.

A finned tube is considered to be one of the most difficult tubes to identify and repair as a result of limited access. When a tube is identified, it’s plugged with a tapered plug that forms a seal to prevent any liquid from leaking, offering a quick and safe solution.

The finned tube plugs tend to be welded into place, offering a temporary fix that can easily be removed.

There are countless benefits associated with these plugs; including the following:

  • Ease of installation
  • No expertise needed
  • No damage
  • Perform exceedingly well under pressure
  • Reliable and leak-free
  • Quality assurance.

Need to know more about how to plug a heat exchanger tube? Get in touch with USEL Tubular Division on 0191 587 1777 today!

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