Gaskets and seals are vital components for applications requiring a solid seal, helping prevent leaks and stop gases and other chemicals from escaping.
However, over time, and due to the fluctuating temperatures, compression sets, and exposure to chemicals, seals do fail.
However, gasket failure can be used as a reliable safety mechanism.
Because when a gasket fails, it allows for the release of pressure when the assembly reaches its critical load and when an application exceeds its temperature resilience. In these instances, gasket failure can prove to be a vital safety function.
The ultimate aim of spiral wound gaskets is to provide a complete and tight seal between two uneven surfaces.
At SSP Ltd UK, we’re proud to stock a vast range of gaskets, seals, o rings, and more. Our team works with your specifications to find the most suitable solution for your application and product innovation.
Importance of seals
Ultimately, seals prevent leaks and contamination, with static seals providing a complete physical barrier between two joining surfaces.
The requirement of a gasket is that it is able to sustain minor alignment and flange imperfections to support the application and all of its safety requirements.
Gasket failure can lead to leaks, which can contribute to low pressure and more severe issues.
This is why it is vital that you carry out regular service checking that all gaskets are performing at their optimum levels – this can be a critical safety requirement.
If gaskets do require replacing, this should be carried out effectively and efficiently, bearing in mind that you must choose a gasket material that is suitable for the application and that can withstand the pressures and temperature ranges as required.
Gasket installation must be done with care and precision, careful not to bend, tear, or snap spiral wound gaskets when fitting.
Lubricate fastener threads and all bearing surfaces, only using approved lubricants, applying these consistently while avoiding contamination.
You also need to consider storage, including the requirement that you don’t use gaskets four years after manufacture.
You should also avoid storing gaskets in direct sunlight and extreme heat and humid conditions.
Our recommendations are to store in a cool, dry place, with sheet materials stored flat, and avoid hanging gaskets to prevent distortion. In addition, all gaskets should be kept clean and free from mechanical damage at all times.
Ultimately, you want and need your seal to last; hence, you will find such a vast range and choice of gasket spiral materials and recommendations for storage, handling, and installation. And also why you should be carrying out regular visual inspections, checking for service, size, and thickness.
Why do gaskets fail?
Primarily, gaskets fail due to deterioration. Knowing the exact cause of why a gasket has failed is vital to ensure longevity, safety, and high performance.
Hardness levels, polymer content, temperature ranges, chemical resistance, pressure, and torque all contribute in some way to gasket failure.
Again, to avoid this, you must choose the right material suitable for the application in question.
The environment can and does play a vital role in gasket failure, especially if the incorrect material is used.
You must consider gasket traceability and conformance. Ensuring that the most suitable materials are used in the correct areas of an assembly and in applications where a spiral wound gasket is required because leakage from valves can be one of the biggest problems you can experience.
Ideally, you must avoid permeating a production line because it can be costly and environmentally harmful when a gasket fails.
Fastener failure is also a cause of gasket failure, where a fastener that is insufficiently tight goes on to cause failure. However, if a fastener is too tight, it can crush the gasket, causing cracking or fatigue.
You must also be aware of what happens when the applied load exceeds the strength of the fastener.
Gasket failure can also occur when:
- The wrong gasket was used
- You opt for the incorrect gasket thickness
- The gasket is damaged in storage, through handling or installation
- Deterioration has occurred over time
- Flange failure – the flange surface is damaged, warped, suffering corrosion, or not clean.
To combat some of these issues, you can:
- Choose the right material
- Store and handle correctly
- Clean and carry out visual inspections
- Ensure good assembly and installation
- Never reuse a gasket.
Ensuring the highest level of gasket safety all comes down to selecting the right gasket.
This means using good quality gaskets from a reputable supplier, like Specialist Sealing Products.