Minimizing the Cost of Leakage in Your Fluid System
by Jeff Hopkins, on 8/29/17 8:45 AM
Start by educating yourself on the system's parts and how they work together
Several factors go into the cost of a leak, including the size of the leak, the amount of pressure in the system, and the type of fluid leaking out (or in). In any fluid system, however, the main goal is to minimize the cost of leakage. Here are a few things that will shrink that number.
The earlier you can spot a problem, the faster you can fix it, and the less money you'll waste. Start a monitoring program right away. Make note of all the measurements and gauge readings when the system is operating properly. When you have a standard for comparison, it will be easier to spot anomalies. Don't wait until a leak becomes obvious. Non-operating equipment can be an additional source of leaks. Equipment no longer in use should be isolated with a valve in the distribution system.
The longer you tolerate a leak, the more it costs you.
If you don't have a preventive maintenance program in place, set one up. Put together a list of critical or at-risk isolation valves, thread connections, regulators, hoses, gaskets and other components. Make sure everything is correctly calibrated. Conduct a leak audit at least once a year, perhaps as often as every six months.
Swagelok has several ways to spot leaks. One of the simplest is to apply one of our Snoop® liquid leak detectors. We also have some sophisticated tools such as ultrasound devices for detecting leaks in steam traps and hard to reach fittings and fluid systems.
When you find a leak, tag it. Don't remove the tag until the leak has been repaired. You may find so many leaks that you need to set up a work schedule that gives priority to the worst problems. After each leak is fixed, have someone check the repair. A poorly done repair might actually cause a new leak somewhere else.
A great way to minimize leaks from starting in the first place is to make sure that the right valve, fitting or other part has been selected for each job. We've written many times about picking the right size of a valve, gauge or regulator for a particular installation. The second element is proper installation. In many cases, leaks are caused by failing to clean the threads or by bad or improperly applied thread sealant.
The longer you tolerate a leak, the more it costs you. The sooner you fix it, the faster you'll recover the time and cost of the repair.
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