Category Archives: Gaskets Blog

The Importance of Using Thread Lubricants in Bolted Connections

Would you run your automobile engine without oil? Assembling a bolted joint without using a proper thread lubricant is a comparable scenario. Thread lubricants are often overlooked but can have a huge impact on the success of a bolted joint.

In any industrial plant, there can be thousands of bolted connections, primarily in the flanged connections throughout piping systems, on packed stuffing boxes on pumps and valves, and on heat exchanger covers, for example. All of these pieces of equipment are used to join components while maintaining a leak tight pressure boundary for a system.

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Troubleshooting Gasket Failure

In the oil, gas and process industry, engineers and technicians must face the problem of maintaining a hermetic seal for a variety of industrial equipment. An example is flanges, which are the most common attachment method of one pipe to another pipe or equipment. Since the parts to be jointed are both rigid, they both must be perfectly machined an aligned. They also must maintain this aligned position during changing service conditions in order to maintain a seal. This can be difficult to achieve given the nature of alloys used in equipment, the fluids to be contained, as well as process variables (such as vibration, temperature variations, wear and chemical compatibility) and cost constraints (man hour maintenance time, cost of products and downtimes).

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Storage & Shelf Life Prediction for Flange Gasket Materials

Flange gaskets are highly engineered products, and their performance depends on many factors. Certainly design, manufacture, installation, and process conditions are all critical, but so is storage before use. Gasket materials often remain in storage for a long time before they are placed into service. Unfortunately, storage practices for gasket materials are generally not optimal or controlled well enough. This article provides guidance for the storage of different gasket materials to preserve their integrity.

Gasket materials are divided into three main categories: non-metallic, semi-metallic and metallic. Non-metallic gaskets, or soft gaskets, are fabricated from materials such as rubber, fiber, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and graphite.

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Gasket Installation Best Practices

Gasket failures can be problematic, causing unwanted downtime, revenue loss and safety concerns. Failure analysis shows that up to 85% of all gasket failures are due to faulty user installation, though it is important to note that with proper training and installation procedures, most of these failures are preventable. ASME PCC-1 is a post-construction guideline for pressure boundary bolted flange joint assemblies, and the bulk of gasket manufacturers derive their installation procedures from this guideline. For the end user who does not have an installation procedure, it is a great resource to have; however, the book is more than 99 pages and is not suitable to carry around in the field.

To help with this, the Fluid Sealing Association (FSA), in conjunction with the European Sealing Association (ESA), have created a Gasket Installation procedures pocket book (available in nine languages on the FSA and ESA websites (fluidsealing.com, europeansealing.com) to help installers focus on the key points of proper gasket installation. Following is a summary of the six principal areas of focus in sequential order.

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Improper Gasketed Joints Can Be Deadly

Safety is a concern at any industrial site. An Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance specialist has stated that safety should be more than priority: “Priorities in an organization can and usually do change. Safety and health need to be a core value of the organization.”

Safety can be a case of values versus priorities. When it comes to sealing devices, perceived dangers sometimes are overlooked. The case of an explosion at a refinery in Anacortes, Washington, shows how deadly accidents can occur when safety risks are distorted.

A heat exchanger, known as E-6600E, catastrophically ruptured at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes on April 2, 2010. Highly flammable hydrogen and naphtha at more than 500 degrees F were released from the ruptured heat exchanger and ignited, causing an explosion and an intense fire that burned for more than three hours.

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Back to Basics: Semi-Metallic Gaskets

This is the second of two articles in this “Back to Basics” series that discusses gasketing. While the first article was on soft gaskets, this article will focus on semi-metallic gaskets.

Many variations of semi-metallic gaskets are available. In general, the combination of metal and a soft material merges the structural integrity of the metal with the sealing ability of the soft material. Common variations include corrugated, jacketed, kammprofile and spiral-wound gaskets.

Corrugated gaskets consist of a thin metal that is corrugated or embossed with concentric rings and faced with a soft material such as flexible graphite.

Corrugated gaskets use the substrate’s geometry to achieve conformability to flange irregularities and promote recovery over the life of the seal; they are essentially a line contact seal.

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Back to Basics: Soft Gaskets

A non-metallic gasket is one that does not have any metal in its construction and that consists of one or more materials such as elastomers, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), flexible graphite, natural fibers or mineral-based materials. The gasket also may be composed of a binder and filler(s), or it could be completely homogeneous.

Understanding the forces acting within a bolted joint flange assembly (BJFA) is critical because these forces have a direct impact on the performance and longevity of a soft gasket installed within a BJFA.

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FSA to Host Webinar, “How to Select the Correct Gasket”

One of the most critical yet overlooked aspects to successful flange sealing is selecting the correct gasket. Due to an aging workforce and lack of shared sealing knowledge, more focus is needed to be put on selecting the proper gasket. Industry records show that 1 in every 5 gasket failures indicates improper gasket style or material was used. The Fluid Sealing Association (FSA) is a manufacturer-based resource whose charter is educating industry including the correct selection of gasketing to ensure a safe and sound connection.

The FSA is proud to offer “How to Select the Correct Gasket” as a 1.5 hour webinar that will give vital information including the following subjects:

- Forces acting on a bolted connection
- Types of gaskets by categories (metallic, semi metallic, and non-metallic)
- Selection of gasket for applications
o Gasket related considerations
o Flange related considerations
o Fastener considerations
o Joint considerations

The Speakers:
Ron Frisard, Vice Chair of Gasket Division, Fluid Sealing Association
Chett Norton, Technical Chair of Gasket Division, Fluid Sealing Association

The webinar takes place live December 9th, 2016, at 2:00 EST. The cost of this interactive webinar is $50.00. If you cannot make the live version, we will have a recorded version on the FSA website to view on demand.

For more information, click here.

The Dangers of Hot Bolting

David Dunning is a Cornell University professor who is perhaps most famous for a paper he co-wrote about ignorance and over-confidence. The Dunning-Kruger effect refers to people who are novice or ignorant to things
they do not know but believe they are experts. The best example involves people who take a test on a subject they know very little about and receive a low score while believing they should receive a high score.

This effect has been studied and linked to many situations, but it can be a serious danger when it occurs in maintenance practices. Around the world, good maintenance practices have been poorly taught and communicated, and some ideas are unsafe and have no foundation in practicality. Still, they are handed down as the standard operating practice. This can have worse consequences than most Dunning-Kruger effects—it could be life-threatening.

Read the entire article here.

FSA Gasket Division to Present at VMA Technical Seminar

On March 10, 2016, FSA Gasket Division Member, Mike Shorts, will be making a presentation at the 2016 VMA Technical Seminar being held at Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans, LA. The presentation is titled: Gasket Performance Standards and Application Towards Fugitive Emissions Reductions. The abstract of the presentation is as follows:

With the advent of new gasketing technologies in the market over the past decade, standards have had to evolve in order to satisfy some of the performance specific parameters being addressed by these new technologies. Though basic gasket data can often suffice in standard application design requirements, advanced gasket data parameters and behavioral knowledge are required in order to meet modern and future fugitive emissions reduction standards. This presentation will provide an overview of the updates in gasket performance standards and how manufacturers apply those towards applications requiring significantly lower emissions. Participants will learn the concepts that gasket manufacturer applications engineers use to decode an application and make relevant recommendations to the end-user and/or installer. This level of understanding is also applied to gasketing applications in the valve OEM market as valve manufacturers are constantly developing their valves to meet tighter emissions requirements. As a collaborative partner with the EPA, DOE, and WTO, the Fluid Sealing Association is committed to understanding the leading regulatory issues facing valve manufacturers and industrial facilities in relation to emission reduction strategies and requirements.

Click here for more information on this VMA event.