The Essentials Checklist For Maintaining Expansion Joints
Expansion joints come in different types, each serving a critical role in the regular operation and safety of piping systems. Naturally, as they get exposed to fluids, gases, and other materials during their service life, they will also be subject to extreme temperatures and inevitable wear-and-tear that gradually takes a toll on their effectiveness and structural integrity. Failure to properly care for these joints, along with their related components, such as hoses and dampers, significantly increases the risk of costly downtimes and worker injury.
Since replacing expansion joints is best left as a last resort, timely maintenance is necessary to ensure longevity. Get familiar with the essentials checklist below to ensure thorough maintenance on your piping expansion joints.
The first step in expansion joint maintenance is to conduct a thorough inspection to check whether there are any apparent issues that need immediate repairs. Operators should ideally go over the entire component, its attachments, and flanges to identify if any corrosion has begun to develop. Corrosion in expansion joints may exhibit signs of disintegration, such as:
- Cracks caused by corrosion, fatigue, and stress
- White deposits or red or black patches on the surface
- Deteriorating performance and efficiency
- Shape irregularities or warping from decreased ductility
A weldability test is the best way to test for corrosion which involves passing a torch over the base of the component. If no signs of cracking are present, the joint is still in functional condition.
When cleaning expansion joints, an important step is to remove any foreign materials that may have gotten lodged into their convolutions. This removes potential obstacles that could be affecting the piping assembly’s overall functionality. If possible, operators should avoid cleaning agents containing chlorides when cleaning as they can promote severe corrosion. Isopropyl alcohol is the preferred choice, and gentler materials like soft, clean rags since the abrasiveness of brushes or steel wool lead to scuffing of the expansion joint. When insulating, it is also recommended to only use chloride-free materials.
Determining the proper functioning of expansion joints is imperative to maintaining their rated service life. Operators can make use of a series of controls and tests to assess the quality of an expansion joint and ensure it remains within operational standards. Some of these tests include:
- Bellows burst testing
- Heat transfer testing
- Spring rate testing
- High and low-frequency testing
- Movement capacity (axial, angular, lateral, and vibration) testing
Pieces with the proper dimensions installed using the right techniques rarely have to undergo special maintenance besides the regular servicing involved in inspections. However, keeping an expansion joint maintenance checklist handy is beneficial in addressing more severe issues and defects.
Should your application need nothing short of the best and most reliable expansion joints, Pharmchem Engineering is here to help. As a decades-long expansion joint supplier, we are the leading name in high-quality industrial engineering supplies, including various expansion joints such as rubber, stainless steel, and fabric expansion joints, as well as hose fittings, anti-vibration mounts, pipe pigging equipment, and more. To learn more details about our products and custom solutions that deliver to your needs, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.