Tubular and plate heat exchangers are industrial equipment necessary to transfer heat between fluids at different temperatures. They are, therefore, crucial to the workings of many industries, making integrity testing a necessity. With integrity testing, it ensures that heat exchangers are performing optimally and are safe to operate.

Integrity testing detects potential issues within the heat exchanger, including issues such as erosion, corrosion, fouling, and leaks.  By detecting these issues on time, the industries using heat exchangers can promptly address and fix the issues, avoiding equipment failure and other safety hazards.

In this blog, we’ll focus on two primary heat exchangers that are used commonly across various industries. Understanding the two heat exchangers will give an idea of the integrity issues that is required with each type of heat exchanger.

Types of Heat Exchangers & Integrity Issues

Plate Heat Exchangers

Plate heat exchangers, one of the primary types of heat exchangers, are generally made of thin stainless steel metal plates that are stacked together and sealed with gaskets. The fluids exchanging heat flow through these channels in the plates, facilitating efficient heat transfer between the fluids.

Integrity Issues That May Arise with Plate Heat Exchangers:

  • Plate Fouling and Blockage: Accumulation of materials such as minerals, organic matter, dirt, and other debris from the fluid being transferred can cause plate fouling and blockage decreasing efficiency. Plate fouling can also increase energy consumption.
  • Plate Corrosion and Erosion: The gradual degradation and wear and tear of the plate metal arising from chemical reactions and the flow of the fluids being transferred can lead to leaks and a reduction in the efficiency of the transfer process.
  • Plate Misalignment: The plates can be misaligned due to various reasons, primarily thermal expansion or mechanical stress, causing leakage and reducing the efficiency of the exchangers.
  • Plate Cracking: Cracks could form on the plates due to many reasons, including thermal stress, mechanical stress, corrosion, improper installation, erosion, and inadequate maintenance.

Tubular Heat Exchangers

Tubular heat exchangers, another commonly used industrial heat exchanger, is composed of a series of either straight tubes or tubes bent into various configurations. In a tubular heat exchanger, the transfer between the fluids occurs with one fluid flowing through the tubes and the other fluid flowing around the tubes. The heat is then exchanged through the tube walls.

Integrity Issues That May Arise With Tubular Heat Exchangers

  • Tube Fouling and Blockage: The build of fouling material on the surface of the tube can reduce the heat transfer rate, increasing energy consumption. The build-up can also cause blockages, leading to a reduced heat transfer rate and could lead to equipment failure.
  • Tube Corrosion and Erosion: The degradation of the tube surfaces caused due to the chemical reaction occurring due to the fluid being transferred can lead to leaks. Physical wear and tear, that is erosion, can also reduce the efficiency and life span of the heat exchanger.
  • Tube Wall Thinning: Over time, due to factors such as corrosion or erosion, the tube walls can lose their thickness, causing potential failure and leakage.
  • Tube Joint Leakage: When the fluids being transferred leak into the tube joints, it can cause gasket failure or put stress on the heat exchanger, leading to contamination of fluids.

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Why Is The Inspection Of A Heat Exchanger So Important? How Can Bioscan Help With Integrity Testing?

Various integrity issues may arise depending on the type of heat exchanger being used. In order to avoid resulting consequences, it has become imperative to conduct periodic integrity testing.

Integrity testing aims at preventing harmful leaks and cracks in the heat exchange walls by identifying microscopic cracks and material fatigue. Heat exchanger integrity testing is an ideal quality and maintenance check for plate & tubular heat exchanger.

Bioscan, a global provider of integrity inspection services, utilises advanced technology to identify the issues with plate and tubular heat exchangers. Our services can help you detect issues, such as corrosion, erosion, and leakage of the plates or tubes, helping businesses fix these issues on time. Our plate and tubular heat exchanger inspection services can help in reducing the downtime caused due to exchanger failure and help your business function smoothly.

Further Read: Using The Hydrogen Method To Check For Defects In Heat Exchangers


Periodic professional integrity testing and maintenance of a heat exchanger are essential for the smooth running of the system. Bioscan’s plate & tubular heat exchanger integrity inspections are able to detect the micro-cracks and early signs of corrosion and damage to the heat exchanger.

Bioscan has over a decade of experience in heat exchanger testing and uses the best testing sensor units. If you are looking for experienced and expert plate & tubular heat exchanger integrity testers feel free to contact us to get a quote or for more information.