Inspectioneering Journal

Exchanger Girth Flange Evaluation

Case Study

By Robert C. Davis, P.E., Senior Engineer at The Equity Engineering Group, Inc. This article appears in the July/August 2012 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


At most operating facilities, a significant amount of time, effort, and money is expended on problem flanged joints that repeatedly leak. Joints that are repeatedly tightened online, that require installation of leak clamps, or that have resulted in unplanned outages to fix leaks are costly and unsafe.

Joint leakage can be eliminated with proper joint design and assembly procedures, but it might not be easy. There is no “miracle cure” for across-the-board bolting problems.

Standardized bolting procedures, such as tightening in a defined sequence, using certified and calibrated equipment, applying a defined target torque or target bolt stress, using a specified lubricant, etc., can work well for most joints. The joints that these standard procedures don’t work for are the ones that cause problems.

There is a history of miracle products that promise to solve a host of flange leakage problems. There is even a corresponding history of great success achieved on certain joints by using these products. It’s important to note, however, that the promises of success with these products never include the phrase, “just install these and do everything else as you normally would”. Instead, there are handling and installation procedures for the item, recommended assembly procedures for the joint, defined target bolt stresses, requirements to install new bolts, or a variety of other conditions that accompany the item in question.

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