What are the risks of on-site retubing?

22-10-2020

Customers regularly request to replace the tubes of the shell & tube heat exchanger on site. The answer is usually positive, but there are some risks involved.

It is important that these risks are clearly communicated before the start of the work.

Sufficient space around the heat exchanger is required

Obviously, sufficient space must be available in line with the heat exchanger. But access to the on-site exchanger also plays a role. Try maneuvering with a box full of 10-meter tubes in a fully-built production hall...

How are the tubes mounted?

The way in which the tubes are mounted in the tube plate is important. Are they just welded? Then the work is not too bad, since milling away the welds is enough to loosen the tubes.

Have the tubes also been expanded? Then it becomes more difficult and a "tube puller" is needed to exert controlled pulling force. Here is a greater risk of a broken pipe, resulting in more manipulation, loss of time and costs.

What condition is the heat exchanger in?

Another risk is the condition of the exchanger and especially any "baffle plates" that are in the shell.

The tubes must be pulled along these partitions. When these plates are slightly skewed due to age, forces are created during extraction that can again cause a fracture.

Conclusion

In order to bring this type of project to a successful conclusion, on the one hand clear communication between supplier and customer, and on the other hand, a lot of experience and good preparation are essential.

Curious about our options in this area, view our references here or send an email to: stijn.descamps@timmerman-ehs.be.

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