May 2004

Special Report: Maintenance/Reliability

Understand gaskets

Follow these guidelines to avoid sealing problems

Sahoo, T., Indian Oil Corp. Ltd.

Gaskets are often the weakest links in process plant piping systems. Understanding their design and application could solve flange leakage problems and avoid costly shutdowns. Gaskets perform the basic function of "keeping the process fluid where it belongs." They act as a retaining seal between rigid stationary surfaces. Frictional contact of the sealing surfaces must be high enough to keep the gasket seated under all operating conditions. Since gasket material is normally softer than the parts it is sealing, it flows into the irregularities of the joint faces, thereby closing off any leakage path. The two principal types of gaskets are: Those used in full-faced

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