Understanding the Maintenance Requirements for Heat Exchangers

altex industris heat exchangers

Understanding the Maintenance Requirements for Heat Exchangers

Periodic maintenance is an important part of ensuring the life of a heat exchanger. Heat exchangers are designed to contain process fluids at temperature and pressure, but if not maintained properly, the exchanger can leak internally across streams or leak externally to the environment.

There are a few key things that need to be done regularly to keep a heat exchanger in good condition through heat exchanger maintenance.

How long does a shell and tube heat exchanger last?

Shell and tube heat exchangers can last up to 25 or more years. The life of a heat exchanger is based on many factors, including metallurgy, process chemistry, operating conditions, upset conditions, the type of heat exchanger, the condition of the components, and regular maintenance.

Common Problems in Heat Exchangers

Fouling, corrosion, and leakage are the three most common problems in heat exchangers.  Improper design or operation may cause other issues such as vibration or erosion, but this tends to be more unit specific and not general to all heat exchangers.

How often should heat exchangers be serviced?

Heat exchangers should be inspected and serviced on regular intervals, depending on the process, criticality, and history. Important to keep in mind that the life of a heat exchanger is based on many factors. And that heat exchangers are generally unique and operating in different services and conditions.

Why periodic inspection and servicing is so critical

Periodic inspection and servicing are so critical because it ensures the heat exchanger is in good condition and reduces the chances of it failing. If a heat exchanger is not maintained, it will eventually fail and cause plant downtime.    


One of the most common problems with heat exchangers is fouling. Fouling can occur through several mechanisms, including chemical (scaling), biological, deposition (sediment), and corrosion. This can restrict or block the process flow of heat through the heat exchanger, increasing pressure drop and reducing thermal performance.    


Another big reason periodic inspection and servicing are so important is because of corrosion. Corrosion can occur due to a variety of things, including process chemistry and metallurgy. Corrosion generally affects the tubing first as it is thinnest and exposed to both process streams, which will cause process fluid from the higher pressure side to leak the lower pressure side.      

Registration Requirements

Finally, one of the most important things to remember when it comes to heat exchangers is that they must be registered and keep up with safety requirements. This is because heat exchangers are designed to operating at high temperatures and pressures, and if not maintained properly, they can cause serious injury and damage.

Schedule Periodic Heat Exchanger Maintenance with Altex

Don’t wait for a heat exchanger to fail – schedule periodic maintenance with Altex today! We’ll keep your exchanger in good condition and reduce the chances of it failing. Contact us today for more information and to schedule an inspection.