Common Causes of Heat Exchanger Failure

Heat Exchangers are constantly in use processing various fluids and helping you within your process plant. Heat exchangers continuously have performance issues which can occur for a range of reasons and the performance, or even failure issues, can be down to over use.

Almost all heat exchangers are used to transfer heat from steam, water or even gas to other gases and fluids. The most common criteria certain heat exchangers must meet for process plant engineers is the fact it must be able to withstand corrosion. Heat exchangers also need to be durable and cost effective for the process plant to implement.

Fouling is the most common problem within all types of heat exchangers and can be very hard to combat with almost all fluids causing some type of fouling in heat exchangers. However, in recent years fouling mitigation solutions have helped reduce the risk of fouling as well as improving the performance which has given a lot of process plants more reason to implement these solutions because of the benefits they can provide.

Fouling however, can be one of several issues within heat exchangers and in some cases heat exchangers can even fail because of issues within the process plant. The most common issues which might cause heat exchanger failure can be seen below. These can be very dependent on the type of fluids you might be processing within your heat exchanger.

  • Pipe and tubing imperfections
  • Welding Faults
  • Fabrication Issues
  • Improper design Specifications
  • Improper materials
  • Improper operating conditions
  • Pitting
  • Stress-corrosion cracking (SCC)
  • Corrosion fatigue
  • General corrosion
  • Crevice corrosion
  • Design errors
  • Selective leaching, or dealloying
  • Erosion corrosion

All of the above can lead to your heat exchanger failing which can result in your process plant having to spend a lot of money trying to fix any issues which might have occurred within heat exchangers. There are various heat exchanger solutions on the market which can be brought to help reduce the risk of problems within your exchanger as well as reduce the risk of your heat exchanger failing.

One of the leading heat exchanger solutions on the market is hiTRAN. The turbulator solution can help reduce the risk of fouling and also help reduce other problems within heat exchangers while continuing to boost the performance in your heat exchanger.


If you’re looking to improve your Heat Exchanger and would like to know more about Heat Exchanger solutions, please contact CALGAVIN Engineers who will be happy to assist you or alternatively request a copy of our Design and Selection Software-hiTRAN.SP