December, 2020

202002DecAll DayPlugging Heat Exchanger TubesEPSC Learning Sheet | Plug a heat exchanger tube with care Origin: EPSC Language:EN


What Happened:
A technician was checking a plug on a heat exchanger tube, while the equipment was heating up. Due to pressure build-up in the tube the plug was released from the tube bundle with great force, killing the technician.

• Heat exchanger tubes are regularly plugged when the tube is leaking or has thin wall areas.
• Tubes to be plugged should be first fully opened (cut), to avoid pressure build-up in the tube when heating-up!
• Define the right plug related to pressure and temperature.
• Validate that the bore of the tube is in good condition and that the plug is compatible with the fluids/gases used as well as with the tube sheet material.
• Be careful with welding that can cause tube-sheet cracking.
• Validate leak tightness of the plug and when inspecting a plug at a heat exchanger, stay out of the line of fire


EPSCEuropean Process Safety Centre