October 2018

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Engineering Case Histories: Case 103—Addressing heat exchanger tube leaks

Heat exchangers have multiple tubes with fluid passing through and over them that either heats or cools another fluid.

Sofronas, A., Consulting Engineer

Heat exchangers have multiple tubes with fluid passing through and over them that either heats or cools another fluid. When a tube leaks, it may not always be cost effective to replace the tube. A common practice is to plug the leaking tubes, thereby stopping the fluid flow through them. This will also change the process temperature. What can an engineer contribute when asked if the 20 tubes plugged in a single-pass, 325-tube exchanger are too many? FIG. 1. Grouped and isolated plugged tubes.   Design programs are not always available to analyze the situation when an immediate answer is required. In the situation described above, removing and

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