Best Practices for Flange Gasket Fitting and Installation

16 July 2019

Installation errors result in premature gasket failures. As a best case scenario, that failure causes system downtime. System stoppages take place, and then there are revenue losses to worry about. This is a problematic situation, but it’s fixable. Things could be so much worse, though. For one thing, the leaking fluid could be combustible or toxic. In view of these issues, a proven methodology must be adopted when fitting gaskets.

Establish a Best Practices Approach

Even when fastening a light load in place, an installer will use an accepted bolt tensioning procedure. One fastener is tightened then its opposite number is tightened, and so on until the joined parts are uniformly anchored in place. Again, that’s how load-susceptible fittings are treated. Surely a high-performance flange gasket requires at least as much attention? To install that seal in a safe and secure manner, especially when it’s expected to contain high-pressures, a number of clearly defined steps must be executed. Metaphorically speaking, a gasket fitting and installation ladder functions as a procedurally administered guide, one whose rungs must be tended to with great care.

Climbing the Gasket Fitting Ladder

Following this metaphor, you begin with the first rung. A gasket installation is underway. Keeping that best practices outlook firmly in mind, the engineer inspects the flange faces. Are they clean? Has the system been de-energized and depressurized? Complying with all relevant health and safety guidelines, the installation area is made safe. Wearing a safety helmet, the installer gets to work. A wire brush comes out after the inspection phase has finished. Grime is covering one of the flanges, so this matter needs to be addressed before the job can go any further. Cleaned until the surface gleams, a second inspection checks for scratches and/or surface dents. Excessive pitting is another potential seal integrity troublemaker. By the way, the ASME PCC-1 codes and standards can be used to determine whether a sealing face discontinuity exceeds a predefined guideline maximum.

Flange parallelism comes next, with the installer lining up the sealing faces until they align perfectly. Spaced according to the aforementioned guidelines, the gasket is inserted next. It’s clean and free of tears, as proven by a final seal examination, so the gasket is inserted. From here, the next few minutes of the job are reserved for seal manipulation. On carefully centring the sealing ring and ensuring proper seating, a coating of anti-seize paste finalizes the face preparation work; now comes the accepted cross-bolt tightening pattern. All that’s left now is to apply the recommended fastening torque. Remember, a gasket cannot be over-compressed, nor can the bolts receive too much tensioning force.

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