June 2017

The Importance of Testing Gasket Material

One cause of leaking joints is fluid-gasket incompatibility. Some materials swell and others become brittle. Elasticity and recovery decline faster than expected and fluid finds a way out. Temperature and pressure accelerate this material breakdown and hasten premature failure.  Testing gasket material for performance becomes a very important exercise.

Your Situation May Be Unique

The published information about which gasket materials to use and avoid with various fluids is always only a guide. The range of fluids to seal is virtually unlimited, and environmental factors vary. The only way to be completely sure any given gasket material will perform satisfactorily is to put it in the application.

Sample Testing

Gasket replacement is often costly, so while there’s no better test than to see how it performs in-service this isn’t a practical approach. The alternative is to expose samples of the gasket material or materials being considered to conditions like those in the application.

The simplest approach is to immerse pieces of the candidate materials in the fluid. Retain a control sample to allow quick comparisons to the initial material condition. Recover a test piece periodically to check for deterioration, or set up multiple samples for a range of test durations. Overall test duration should be as long as possible to replicate the in-service conditions.

If equipment is available, heat or cool the material to the temperature expected. Obviously, temperature cycling is hard to replicate, as are clamping loads. If the gasket material will be used outdoors, and particularly if it’s likely to see sunlight, place one or more samples outside.


Ideally, you would measure thickness to assess swelling, and look at compression under load and recovery. Often though, visual examination and feel are enough to gauge if the material is going to survive in the application.

Ask Hennig

Testing gasket material still doesn’t guarantee a long life, but it does reduce the probability of premature failure. Compared to the trouble of replacing a leaking gasket the effort is often worthwhile. Hennig Gasket is always happy to supply gasket material samples for evaluation. If you’d like to run your own tests, contact us today.

Gasket Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) Protocols

Leaking volatile organic compounds, (VOCs) can cause breathing difficulties for people living or working near the source. Some VOCs, known as volatile hazardous air pollutants (VHAPs,) may even cause cancer or birth defects.

According to the EPA, valves are the largest source of leaks. They account for some 60% of the 70,000 tons of VOCs that escape each year. Next up are flanged connections, responsible for around 30% of “fugitive” emissions. Valves generally leak around the stem or gland. For flanged connections gaskets play an important role leak prevention.

Create a Formal Program

No business wants to be associated with problems like these. That’s why a leak detection and repair (LDAR) program is so important. LDAR is required under 25 different Federal standards, but even if a business doesn’t come under one or more of these, a program still provides benefits.

Leaks are lost product, and that’s wasted money. Leaks tend to get worse over time too, so early detection can prevent a larger problem in the future. Relying on informal, ad hoc inspections is no way to monitor equipment condition. Instead, use a LDAR program to formalize the process.

LDAR Basics

The EPA publication, “Leak Detection and Repair: A Best Practices Guide” explains how to run an effective program. The five key steps of this are:

  • Identify components that need testing for leaks – valves and anything that uses a gasket to seal fluids.
  • Define “leak” in terms of a ppm level. (The EPA suggests using a tighter level than required by applicable standards.)
  • Implement a monitoring program – “Method 21” is a formal process documented in the EPA booklet referenced above.
  • Repair leaks. The EPA recognizes that not all leaks can be fixed immediately but expects prompt action. Either keep gaskets on-hand or find a reliable supplier who can make-to-order and has short lead times.
  • Keep records

Choose Quality

Replacing gaskets can be expensive, but neglecting them could cost more. Buy quality gaskets from an established supplier and install them with care. That way they’ll last longer and you’ll have fewer problems.  Hennig Gasket & Seals has been in the business of manufacturing custom cut gaskets and seals for over 100 years.  Contact us today.