The heat exchanger is a vital component of most heating and cooling systems. It works to transfer heat between two fluids that are flowing in opposite directions. This process helps to maintain temperature balance and prevent excessive build-up of pressure. However, a malfunctioning heat exchanger can cause overheating or undercooling issues. To diagnose these problems, it’s necessary to perform tests on the system’s tube bundle and headers (the components where the tubes connect). Several different types of tests available can help detect leaks in your system’s exhaust manifold or head gaskets:
General Inspection Visually Inspect the Tube Bundle and Headers
When you check your heat exchanger, look for any signs of corrosion or damage. Be sure to check for dents and scratches in the tubes, cracks and leaks, discoloration on the tubes, and discoloration on the tube bundle. You should inspect your headers for corrosion or damage as well.
The spine test is done using a unique tool called a spine tester. The spine tester uses a gauge that measures the pressure drop across the tube bundle.
Pressure Drop Test
A pressure drop test is a method to detect leaks in heat exchanger tubes. The test requires that the tube bundle be isolated from the rest of the system and is performed by applying pressure to the tube bundle and measuring its pressure drop. It is usually carried out using a special leak detector or taking advantage of other experimental equipment such as flow meters or mass flow controllers.
The bubble test detects tube leaks by forcing air through the tube and observing for bubbles that indicate a leak. A soap solution can be used for this test if needed, but it should be done at least once yearly. The test should be performed above the operating pressure of the heat exchanger; otherwise, air may escape from other parts of the system that are not under pressure (such as valves or nozzles). The best location to perform this test is usually near an outlet where you can see any bubbles emerging from your tube bundle.
Bubble Test on a Heat Exchanger
A bubble test is a way of detecting leaks in heat exchanger tubes. It involves injecting air into the system with a pressure gauge connected to a tube.
The pressure gauge is attached to one end of the tube, and its other is placed against the pipe where you suspect a leak. It will show whether or not your suspicion was correct by making bubbles appear on that spot due to escaping compressed air from inside the pipe. If no bubbles occur, you can be sure there are no leaks in that location!
The helmet test is a visual inspection method to detect small pinhole leaks. It uses a high-pressure water jet to detect the leaks in the tube bundle created by a glass plate between two pressure vessels. However, this method is not very reliable as it is sensitive to vibrations, and other factors can produce false positive results, such as:
- Water pressure fluctuations due to temperature changes or power outages
- Mechanical vibration from air conditioning systems or pumps
There are Many Methods to Detect Tube Leaks
There are many ways to test a heat exchanger for leaks. Each method has different benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to choose the right one for your situation. If you have any further questions about our specialized performance and maintenance equipment, contact us today!