Marine heat exchangers play a critical part in ensuing that machines onboard a ship do not overheat. They transfer excess heat from various components of a marine vessel to the external environment.
Since the exchangers are in continuous operation while the ship is sailing, they gradually become less efficient in performing their function. Therefore, regular maintenance work is necessary to keep heat exchanges working at their peak level.
Various kinds of cooling mediums (such a fresh water, oil, air, and even sea water) are used in marine heat exchangers. The choice of cooling medium depends on the kind of exchanger used. Sea water is not a very common choice because of the salt content in it, which corrodes metal pipes and leads to the accumulation of mineral deposits inside the exchanger.
The techniques used for the maintenance of heat exchangers depend on the way it is constructed and the type of undesirable deposits found in.
The end goal is to remove all deposits from the heat transfer surfaces of the exchanger which can prevent the proper flow of heat energy across them.
Tips for maintaining your marine heat exchangers
Before carrying out maintenance work on the heat exchanger, shut off the valves for the cooling medium and completely drain the liquid inside it. Once you have done this, follow these simple tips to properly maintain your marine heat exchanger:
- Use a wire brush to gently remove the soft deposits on the insides of the heat exchanger.
- Chemical cleaning agents can be used for deposits that are hard to remove with a wire brush. Make sure that the affected part is completely covered by the cleaning agent before scraping them out.
- Manufacturers also provide specially designed tools for cleaning heat exchangers. You can use them to clean your marine heat exchanger more effectively. Just be sure to read the instructions that come with the tools before using them.
- After the heat exchanger has been cleaned, completely flush it with fresh water to get rid of any remaining residue.
- If your heat exchanger uses sea water as a cooling medium, it will probably have anodes fixed to its cover to prevent corrosion. Be sure to check the anodes to see if they are properly connected and not rusted.
- If the cover gasket suffers damage while the heat exchanger is being opened, replace it with a new one. Never use a damaged cover gasket.
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