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Flange and gasket arrangements: Avoiding leaks 101


When making pipe and equipment connections, there is a growing focus on the need to reduce the environmental impacts that can come as a result of poor systems.

It revolves around the concept of sustainable development and focuses on protecting the immediate areas around joints from contamination.

With flange/gasket joints, some liquid can escape from the joint if it is not sealed properly, ranging from innocuous fluid loss such as water or steam to nauseous, toxic or hazardous fluids.

Utilising the right technology

It is important therefore to select and use the appropriate sealing technology for any given application.

Fugitive emissions from leaking valves, pumps or flanges in the USA is estimated to be in excess of 300,000 metric tonnes per year, while the figure is also likely to be similar for Europe.

On top of the damage to the environment, there is also the financial burden through the loss of potentially valuable materials.

Gaskets are used to create and retain the static seal between two stationary flanges, while the nature and type of application involved will decide which one needs to be employed.

Their aim is to form a complete barrier against the fluid contained within and therefore block any potential leakage.

Differing levels of pressure to consider

As they are required in various conditions, a number of flange/ gasket arrangements have been developed, while performance will depend on the interaction of the various elements in the system.

All types will usually come in the form of floating or contact-type arrangements, with each applying a different level of pressure on the gasket.

Raised face flanges are common in pipework systems where the bolts act to centralise the gasket, allowing for easy installation and the removal of the gasket without having to separate the entire flange system.

In instances where the flange is made from relatively fragile materials, flat face flanges can allow for the easy installation and removal of the gasket of required.

Meanwhile, the tongue and groove flange includes a totally confined gasket, which requires the separation of the flanges in order to change the gasket.

These are not recommended if soft gaskets are involved, as there is a large amount of pressure placed upon them with this system.

Flat face and groove flange also feature a totally confined gasket and are used in instances where the distance between flanges must be precise.

The key is to use the most suitable arrangement for the project to hand, as each arrangement has its own strengths and weaknesses associated with them.

If ever you find you need to repair a leaky flange, contact Mirage Machines.

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