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Traditionally, when tube defects are found in shell and tube exchangers, the tubes are plugged. When the   number of tubes plugged or the impact of plugging become too great, the heat exchanger is replaced. Replacing or retubing feed water heaters is an expensive as well as a schedule intensive option.

The initial tube repair option, in the event of leakage or degradation is usually plugging. In addition to inserting a plug, there may be a stabilizer rod or cable placed in the tube to minimize tube vibration damage.

While the number of plugs is not an issue early in the heat exchanger life, as the number of plugs increases, tube damage may accelerate due to abnormal temperature conditions. The heat exchanger will eventually reach a point that it will not handle the full load. The heat exchanger will then need to be repaired, replaced, or by passed. By passing the unit is usually only a temporary solution, since it will result in a loss of efficiency and the heat load from the bypassed heat exchanger will be transferred to other heat exchangers in the string, resulting in higher degradation in those heat exchangers.

CTI Industries, USA, specializes in the ‘sleeving’ of condenser and heat exchangers. Sleeving eliminates the time and cost required to fully retube or replace the damage heat exchanger, a unique restoration process that can save eighty five to ninety percent (85% - 90%) in comparison to other repair methods. Sleeves are thin walled tube made from a number of different alloys copper alloys (CuNi and brass), conventional stainless steels (austenitic, ferritic and duplex), superaustenitic stainless steel (6 Moly alloys) and nickel based alloys (eg alloy 400, C-276).


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