Fired Heaters, often referred to as furnaces (direct fired heaters), are pieces of equipment often used in processing facilities to heat gases or liquids up to a desired temperature. Fired heaters in the petrochemical and refining industry are critical pieces of equipment that can have a major impact on process unit safety, reliability, and economics. They are complex pieces of equipment, where tubes and other pressure boundary components might fail due to relatively short periods of upset conditions.

Fired heaters come in two configurations: direct fired heaters and indirect fired heaters. Direct fired heaters utilize a burner to produce hot gasses that transfer their heat energy to a process liquid or gas flowing directly through furnace tubes installed inside the vessel. Indirect fired heaters utilize burners to heat a heat exchanger, over which cool air is circulated and heated.

The construction and design of fired heaters are governed by the API STD 560 or ISO 13705 standards. Their inspection is covered by API RP 573.


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Articles about Fired Heaters
January/February 2024 Inspectioneering Journal

One effective way to monitor tube metal temperature is via internal oxide scale thickness measurement, especially for superheater and reheater tubes.

January/February 2024 Inspectioneering Journal

A proven methodology is required to measure accurate temperatures in a repeatable process to capture the full capability of IR thermometry.

Authors: Nagy Wassef
July/August 2022 Inspectioneering Journal

Leveraging and combining the correct inspection tools on complex problems can yield the best overall data and understanding of actual conditions.

Authors: Grant Jacobson
November/December 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

A historical review into the integrity of reformer furnaces since commissioning is discussed in this case study, along with other technical and engineering challenges, and the efforts to overcome them.

Authors: Iqbal Hussain
September/October 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

This article presents two case studies that show how having a holistic approach, along with the right technology and experience, is essential to identifying smaller damage mechanisms like fretting in fired heater coils.

Authors: Johnny Weaver
Partner Content

The problem is, you don’t. With the out of date procedures that traditional inspection contractors use, data is usually invalid by the time it reaches your system. You rely on this data to make critical decisions regarding integrity concerns, and...


In order to thrive, companies need to maintain top-tier optimization and run equipment safely, reliably, and aggressively. Leveraging highly accurate thermography is one piece of the puzzle to help with these shifts.

Authors: Grant Jacobson
March/April 2020 Inspectioneering Journal

Universally, smart or intelligent pigging is now a standard practice for the inspection of fired heater and serpentine boiler coils. Understanding this technology can greatly assist with maintenance planning and the prevention of unexpected failures.

Authors: Tim Haugen
January/February 2020 Inspectioneering Journal

This article addresses two failure events where inadequate attention to thermal fatigue led to premature equipment failure while specifying guidelines to help prevent such failures that can be a part of a plant's inspection and maintenance programs.

September/October 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

This article presents two cases studies demonstrating how properly conducting baseline fired heater tube inspection aids in early discovery and correction of defects, avoiding unexpected in-service failures, and more.

Authors: Tim Haugen
July/August 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

This is the second of a two-part column on “Creep.” This second part discusses the approach to creep assessment in plant equipment.

Authors: Greg Garic, P.E.
Partner Content

Pinnacle's data-driven reliability framework ensures the right data is fueling the right intelligence, helping you make confident, strategic decisions.

May/June 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

This is the first of a two-part column on “Creep”. It presents an engineering overview of the phenomena, answers the question: “What is Creep?”, and provides readers with foundational knowledge for evaluating and managing remaining...

Authors: Greg Garic, P.E.

Over the last six months, Inspectioneering has released a plethora of interesting and educational content that has been read more than 150,000 times online. In case you missed it, here's a recap.

November/December 2018 Inspectioneering Journal

This article provides an overview of the key components in establishing IOWs, the levels of IOW limits, and the basic principles and application of API Recommended Practice 584 to achieve reliable fired heater performance.

Authors: Tim Hill

Infrared (IR) thermometry has been used for over forty years to monitor tube metal temperatures in refining and chemical furnaces. Recently, IR thermometry has been criticized in the industry for delivering inaccurate readings; however, this is...

November/December 2017 Inspectioneering Journal

In-service equipment failures present a considerable challenge to reliability engineers. This article presents a case study of a convection tube failure in a furnace and the analyses that were performed to understand the root cause and determine the...

Authors: James R. Widrig
Partner Content

The OmniScan™ X3 64 phased array and TFM flaw detector is equipped with enhanced phased capabilities and even faster TFM. The rugged and portable instrument features powerful 64-element probes with a 128-aperture TFM.

September/October 2017 Inspectioneering Journal

Fired heaters are among the most critical equipment in refineries and chemical plants. This article provides an overview of what a fired heater tube mechanical integrity program should include.

March/April 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

Achieving fired heater reliability in conjunction with meeting performance standards can be a challenging feat. Performance is a measure of the degree to which the fired heater is in an operable condition at any given time.

Authors: Tim Hill
May/June 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

The following interview with Rich Roberts provides answers to some of the questions our readers have about small, specially designed pigs carrying NDE technologies that can inspect nearly every area of a tube from the coils interior surface.

Authors: Jeremiah Wooten
May/June 2013 Inspectioneering Journal

Refineries and chemical plants own and operate numerous process heaters (e.g. gas reformers, CCRs, etc.) as part of the standard assets throughout the facilities. Many heater coil configuration designs are flanged at both ends; however, there are...

May/June 2013 Inspectioneering Journal

Industrial furnaces are used extensively throughout the entire oil and gas industry, as well as other process industries such as pulp and paper, metals and mining, chemical, and petrochemical. An industrial furnace, or direct fired heater, is a...

Authors: Fernando Vicente
November/December 2012 Inspectioneering Journal

Various fired heater designs in refineries and chemical plants contain common headers (e.g. Arbor coil configurations, CCRs, etc.) as part of their overall serpentine coil design. Accessing the interior of individual coils through the common header...

May/June 1998 Inspectioneering Journal

Part 1 included a review of current tube inspection practices in convection and radiant sections of heaters/furnaces in the refining and chemical industries. The authors also presented a new inspection device combining laser image mapping of the...

    Videos related to Fired Heaters
      Sponsored Webinar Replay

      This webinar discusses how on-line creep damage rate may be monitored with infrared thermometry, allowing reformer production to be optimized.

      Sponsored Webinar Replay

      Inspectioneering teams up with The Equity Engineering Group, Inc. to bring you "Improving the Reliability and Performance of Fired Heaters," a one-hour webinar presented by Phil Henry and San Chhotray

      Sponsored Webinar Replay

      This webinar discusses the particular aspects involved in obtaining accurate and repeatable infrared temperature measurements of fired heater tubes, as well as a wealth of diagnostic information that may be used to evaluate the performance and...

      White Papers related to Fired Heaters
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          Training Course

          This course offers an understanding of the key recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices (RAGAGEPs) for the design and inspection, testing, and preventive maintenance (ITPM) of fixed equipment.

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