Understanding Gaskets

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Maintaining Industrial Equipment During the school holidays last year, I spent time working at my family's manufacturing plant. They have a lot of industrial equipment, and I spent most of my time shadowing the maintenance manager. It was fascinating to see the amount of care and cleaning which goes into making sure all the machines run smoothly. I began this blog as a way to document the different types of maintenance I learned for two reasons. Firstly, because I aim to take over the family business one day, and also to share my knowledge with others who are interested in running their own manufacturing plant.

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Gaskets can be used in the chemical, shipping, electric power, steel-making, construction and petroleum refining industries. Their main work is to prevent any leak that could come from pipes or equipment parts. The leak can be in either liquid or gaseous form. Note some important things about gaskets.

Choosing Gaskets

There are different types of gaskets usually classified under two major categories. These are metallic and semi-metallic gaskets, and non-metallic gaskets.

Metallic and semi-metallic gaskets include ring joints, spiral wound gaskets, cam profile/ grooved, corrugated metal, etc. The non-metallic gaskets include graphite, rubber, PTFE, fibre reinforced, etc.

The choice of a type of gasket will depend on various factors, which include temperature, pressure, exposure to ozone or UV, and the media.

Factors Explained

Temperature can affect the gasket in such a way that it can affect the sealing property, maximum stress limit and compression set. Always consider both internal and external temperatures. Freezing temperatures will make the gasket brittle or stiff and can even cause cracks. The gaskets should not also experience a cycle of cold and warm temperatures. You may find the gaskets marked with a rating that indicates the temperature and pressure they can handle. The rating is usually called a P x T factor, where P stands for pressure and T for temperature.

Pressure can also affect gaskets as it can cause deformation. Metallic or semi-metallic gaskets will mostly be used for higher pressure applications.

Ozone and UV will mostly affect rubber gaskets. They can cause flaking, cracking, hardening, scaling and drying of rubber gaskets. If you know that the gaskets will be exposed to UV or ozone, use UV- and ozone-resistant gaskets.

The media is the fluid or gas being sealed. It can be corrosive, and this is a major consideration in choosing a gasket. Make sure the media will not affect the gasket you choose.

Handling Gaskets

When handling gaskets, like those from Renseal, you need to make sure you are not deteriorating their sealing performance or deforming them. You should avoid rubbing two gaskets together, throwing gaskets, bending or folding them, treading on a gasket, and also shaking a gasket while holding it.

During storage, you should make sure to use a clean, dark and cool room. This eliminates exposure to ozone, high temperatures, corrosive substances, high humidity, sunlight, etc. It is also recommended to store them horizontally and place cushioning sheets between them. Avoid suspending the gaskets on hooks or placing heavy objects on them.

With the above in mind, you will select the correct gaskets and make sure that you get the most out of them.

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