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When to Stop Using an Old Pressure Vessel

Maybe you’ve had an old pressure vessel sitting around for a while, either in use or in storage. How do you know if it’s safe to use for a new project or if you should invest in a new one? This guide will walk you through some of the factors you’ll want to consider when making that decision.

Why retire old pressure vessels?

The materials that pressure vessels are made from will slowly degrade with use due to exposure to corrosion, applied loads stressing the material, and other factors. Most of the time, this degradation is too slow to be easily noticed, since vessels are designed with this in mind. But over enough time and use, the vessel will eventually no longer meet the requirements it was originally designed to withstand.

Since pressure vessels operate under conditions that can be hazardous if they fail, it’s critical to routinely check and maintain them, especially if they haven’t been used in a while. Once they’ve degraded to a point they can’t be used safely, they need to be retired and replaced with a new vessel.

When is a pressure vessel too old to use?

A pressure vessel is too old to use when it has enough corrosion or material stresses to cause weak spots in the material, or if there is some other flaw or damage that would prevent it from operating safely. A visual inspection can identify obvious issues with an old vessel, but re-certifying the vessel can give you a more concrete idea of if it’s safe to use.

It can also be unusable if it hasn’t been maintained properly, or if it doesn’t meet the standards set out in the ASME Pressure Vessel and Boiler Standards. These standards help people design and maintain pressure vessels safely as long as they are used properly.

What to look for with an old pressure vessel?

Some signs you should consider retiring your pressure vessel include:

  • Excessive rust
  • Signs of corrosion in critical places like welds and joints
  • Thinned walls
  • Lost/improper documentation and maintenance records
  • Lack of ASME certification

If you inspect your vessel and its documentation and run into these issues, you might want to consider investing in a new pressure vessel for your projects.

Learn more

Rexarc is built of experts in pressure vessel design and fabrication, and we’d love to partner with you to develop the right vessel for your needs! If you have questions about pressure vessel design, or if a vessel is safe to use, please feel free to reach out to us.



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