Inspectioneering Journal

The Inspection of Mechanical Insulation Systems: More Important Today than Ever Before

By Ron King, Mechanical Insulation SME. This article appears in the September/October 2019 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


There are inspection requirements in many construction disciplines, including electrical, welding, coating, plumbing, and the list goes on, but not for mechanical insulation. The benefits of properly designed, installed and maintained mechanical insulation systems are well-documented. However, these benefits can be greatly reduced with the potential of significant consequences when there is improper design, application, or maintenance, the results of which can be extensive and easily exceed the initial cost of the insulation system. The cost of insulation inspection is certainly minimal compared to the potential long-term cost of minimizing or identifying areas of concern or risk. The need for a certified mechanical insulation inspection program is long overdue.

Mechanical insulation systems are defined as the materials used to insulate piping, equipment, vessels, ducts, and all types of mechanical items. For years, I have referred to mechanical insulation as the Rodney Dangerfield technology of the industrial and commercial industries—“we get no respect.”

Figure 1. Mechanical insulation with aluminum protective covering and the use of flexible removable/reusable insulation covers.
Figure 1. Mechanical insulation with aluminum protective covering and the use of flexible removable/reusable insulation covers.
Figure 2. Mechanical insulation with laminate protective covering.
Figure 2. Mechanical insulation with laminate protective covering.

Why are those characterizations valid and why is the inspection of mechanical insulation more important today than ever before? That is the focus of this article.

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