Have you ever gotten the feeling that some problems never go away, or that you've solved the same problem once (or twice!) before? Flange leakage is one of those things that seem to fall into this category. In spite of all our efforts, completely curing flange leakage sometimes seems like a losing battle. But should it be? This series of articles will discuss this problem and some ways to solve it. Most of what will be discussed will not be a revelation to experienced plant engineers. However, writing down the seemingly obvious helps focus attention, increases general awareness, and helps solve the problem.
Before you can begin to solve any problem, it is usually necessary to identify and understand the underlying causes. Generally speaking, the following are the primary potential causes of flange leakage:
As you can see from this list, the causes of flange leakage are divided between those that are “design oriented” and those that are “installation/ system operation” oriented. From a practical standpoint, most flange leakage problems today are caused by factors falling into the latter category, although the "design oriented" factors should not be automatically discounted.