Review of common failures in heat exchangers – Part I: Mechanical and elevated temperature failures

Murad Ali, Anwar Ul-Hamid*, Luai M. Alhems, Aamer Saeed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


This study provides an overview of the common modes and causes of failure of heat exchanger tubes. Failure investigations of heat exchangers reported in the literature are compiled in this review based on the mechanisms of failure. A large majority of heat exchanger components fail by way of fatigue, creep, corrosion, oxidation, and hydrogen attack. Most common causes of failure include fouling, scaling, salt deposition, weld defects, and vibration. Effective recommendations to prevent such failures form an important part of this study. It is suggested that suitable materials selection, appropriate tubes design, effective control of the constitution of the working fluid and operating conditions and use of skilled workforce can prolong service lifetime of heat exchangers. Corrosion-related failures of heat exchangers are presented in a related article (Part II).

Original languageEnglish
Article number104396
JournalEngineering Failure Analysis
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Creep
  • Failure analysis
  • Fatigue
  • Fouling
  • Heat exchangers
  • Review
  • Vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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