Heat Exchanger Failure Analysis

Heat Exchanger Failure Analysis

We'll diagnose and address underlying issues with your setup and upgrade key parts - or recommend alternative technologies capable of coping with the stresses of your operating environment.

It doesn't matter whether it's a single shell and tube exchanger or a bank of fin-fan coolers: When heat exchangers fail, the consequences are always severe. Efficiencies drop, mission-critical processes have to be suspended and - in extreme cases - entire plants have to be shut down while costly repair work is undertaken.

For most operators, replacing failed equipment will be the first order of business. Downtime is prohibitively expensive and you'll probably want to repair or upgrade any damaged heat exchangers so that you can restart suspended processes and minimise your losses.

But it's equally important to spend time unpicking the root cause of a catastrophic failure. Heat exchangers are subject to a variety of stresses; from the shock of cyclic thermal loading through to corrosion from chloride ions in your water or condensate grooving from carbonic acid.

Given sufficient time, any of these stresses could cause equipment to fail but you can't mitigate or manage every variable, which is why it's important to pinpoint the problems currently affecting the efficiency or reliability of your heat exchangers.

Here at Glacier Energy, we offer a dedicated service that's designed to do just that. Drawing on over 40 years of experience - and some of the industry's most sophisticated testing tools - to help you understand why your heat exchanger(s) have failed.

We're also equipped to help you diagnose and address any underlying issues with your setup - upgrading key parts or recommending alternative technologies that are capable of coping with the stresses of your operating environment.

To date, we've carried out heat exchanger failure analysis, mitigation and repair work for many major chemical manufacturers, blue-chip oil companies and manufacturing plants.


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Heat Exchanger Experts

Following the acquisition of specialist brands like Ross Offshore, MSL Heat Transfer and Aberdeen Radiators, we've worked hard to establish ourselves as the industry's best-equipped and most-knowledgeable heat exchanger specialists.

Why does this matter? In simple terms, familiarity with the intricacies of heat transfer equipment - and a sound knowledge of heat exchanger design - helps us to quickly spot and diagnose problems with your equipment.

Our engineers will often be able to identify an issue following a cursory visual inspection but where problems are harder to spot, they're also familiar with the advanced techniques needed to quickly.

We're also one of the few UK-based companies with the ability to quickly machine replacement parts and upgrades using exotic metals like duplex steel or , enabling us to rapidly mitigate or minimise the consequences of a serious failure.

Case Study

E207 Tube Failures & New Manufacturing Solution

When an international chemical company’s shell and tube heat exchanger failed prematurely, it leaked titanium tetrachloride into their water supply. We helped them identify the problem and design and manufacture a replacement exchanger capable of supporting their processes.

Read Case Study

A Field-Proven Process

We have an established and reliable process that allows us to support clients all over the world. When a heat exchanger fails, we mobilise a team of experts who are capable of:

Best-In Class Failure Analysis

Although the principles of heat transfer are relatively straightforward, heat exchangers tend to be relatively complex and expensive pieces of equipment.

Even the simplest double pipe exchanger can have intricate design quirks that need to be decoded by a trained specialist, and it's worth noting that industrial heat exchangers are often purpose-built for a particular environment.

Off-the-shelf parts may be used, but there's a good chance that elements of the design will have been tweaked - and refined - to meet specific challenges like unusually high operating temperatures (for which you'd need to manufacture fins and other key parts using an exotic metal like nickel alloy). Or sour environments, where weightloss corrosion and sulfide stress cracking (SCC) are the norm.

As you might expect, these intricacies complicate the process of analysing a failed heat exchanger. Engineers have to be aware of the issues that can affect various designs, and familiar with the safe operating parameters of various exotic and standard materials.

World-Class Engineers & Testing Equipment

Our engineers are all heat exchange experts; intimately familiar with the technologies used in both standard and non-standard equipment for a variety of applications. They'll be able to spot problems quickly - and account for the peculiarities of heavily-modified exchangers.

Our engineers also have access to some of the industry's best non-destructive testing (NDT) equipment, including the equipment needed to carry out:

  • Eddy current inspections
  • Internal rotary inspections
  • Pulse eddy current inspections
  • ACFM tests

These advanced techniques are key to identifying problems like flawed welds - and accurately mapping corrosion inside tubes or pipes.

Repairing Failed Parts

Identifying the problem might be the first step, but there's a very good chance you'll need to repair or replace failed parts before you can restart mission-critical processes.

Equipped with a dedicated manufacturing facility and ASME Div I (U1) & Div II (U2) certified staff, we're well-placed to help you upgrade damaged parts or repair the ailing equipment that brought your operation to a grinding halt.

We use the lessons learned by our exacting failure analysis to come up with a cost-effective solution that mitigates the risk of unplanned downtime - without the overheads associated with the complete replacement of your heat exchangers.

Read More About Our Heat Exchanger Repair & Overhaul Service

Case Study

Redesign & Manufacture Of 2 Hairpin Exchanges

PD&MS approached us to redesign two outdated hairpin exchanges. First built in 1991, these exchangers were no longer up to code, but upgrading them proved difficult because there was no way to fit thicker tubes in the pre-existing shell.

Read Case Study

Replacing Damaged Equipment

Unfortunately, repair work isn't always an option. If your operating parameters have changed and your current equipment no longer meets the required specification, manufacturing replacement parts won't prevent another premature failure.

There are also times when a heat exchanger fails so spectacularly that there's simply no way to bring the equipment back to life.

In situations like these, where simple repair work isn't sufficient, we can help you design and build a heat exchanger that's purpose built for the unique stresses associated with your process stream. We're one of a handful of UK manufacturers who specialise in designing advanced heat exchangers and we have a dedicated manufacturing facility that's equipped with the clean rooms and equipment needed to manufacture equipment using exotic metals.

In short, we're the ideal partner for any business currently running old or outmoded equipment so if you have a problem with one or more heat exchangers, reach out using the contact form below and one of our engineering team will be in touch.

Want to talk about a heat transfer solution or product for your project?

If you are interested to see how we can help your business, you can call us on 01333 425517 or fill out the form below and we'll get back to you.