Hydrostatic Testing – The Ins and Outs

Author: Ian Salvona

Hydrostatic testing is a common procedure used to performance verify a fluid pressure vessel, such as, cylinders, boiler or tubes . Hydrostatic testing is also a common testing procedure to verify pressure vessels do not leak or have manufacturing flaws. Hydrostatic testing is important for pressure vessels in the interest of device safety, and durability under operating pressure. Hydrostatic testing is a technique to identify leaks within low pressure vessels and devices such as pipes and plumbing as well.

Hydrostatic test is normally conducted under industry and/or customer requirements or specifications. Typical requirements are as follows:

The pressure vessel to be tested is located within a sealed vessel, the sealed vessel is filled with a incompressible fluid, typically water or oil. The test vessel is then subjected to a known internal pressure for a known duration. The known internal pressure is normally a significant percent greater than the maximum operating pressure of the device (typically 150. The applied pressure causes the test vessel to expand, instrumentation, which is already in place, are then read to determine the total and permanent expansion that the test chamber (external) undergoes. A physical and visual inspection then follows the hydrostatic test to determine that the device being tested has not been damaged or permanently distorted due to the test pressure.

Pressure vessels may be re-verified by subjecting the vessel device to a proof-pressure test. The proof-pressure test is commonly referred to as a modified hydrostatic test. The pressure vessel is subjected to a known pressure for a predetermined time. During and following the proof-pressure test, the pressure vessel is inspected for abnormal distortion or failure.

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