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Tube plugs: How to plug an air cooled heat exchanger

Jul 02, 2023Jul 02, 2023

Know your fin fan exchanger

How do you tube plug an Air Cooled Heat Exchanger? Start with the basics, what are the specifications for the tubes to be plugged? You will need to know the outside diameter, wall thickness, and material. In addition, you will want to know the depth of the water box (distance you will have to reach through to access the tubesheet) and operating pressure.

Difficulties with plugging fin fan exchangers

Air cooled heat exchangers (or fin fan exchangers) have unique features that make them more complex to work with. The first and foremost, is having to reach through a small port in the water box to access the tubesheet and tubes. This makes measuring the tubes impossible, obscures the installer’s view during plugging, and can require specialized tooling to account for the extra reach. Fin Fan Exchangers also tend to experience high rates of corrosion.

The NEW Tap N’ Seal® patented expandable tapered plug

Welcome the NEW Tap N’ Seal® Expandable Tapered Plug to solve these issues. The patented, expandable taper design provides a large tolerance, so you don’t need to know your exact tube dimensions, you just need to be in the ballpark or know the OD. This also accounts for changing in size due to over-rolling or corrosion. The simple installation process and ‘seating’ of the plug makes it so you can literally install the plugs blind without being able to see the tubesheet, so the waterbox is not a concern. And the only tools you need are a torque wrench and a standard extension, both readily available in most workshops or at your local hardware store.

Big improvement over traditional one piece plugs

The Tap N’ Seal® plugs seal to 500 psi with consistency and confidence. Like a regular tapered plug, the front end is smaller than the back end so it can be inserted into the tube. However, once it is lightly seated, simply torque the installation screw and it will cause the tapered plug to expand in all directions. This LOCKS the plug into the tube with consistency. This is a major improvement over regular tapered plugs, which rely on an unpredictable hammer strike to create a sealing surface, is inconsistent, and can damage tubesheet ligaments or cause leaks in adjacent tubes. Our torque style installation is steady and consistent, while generating enormous radial sealing forces that create a stronger, longer lasting seal than traditional tapered plugs.

Contact Torq N’ Seal® today!

Once you have the above information on your exchanger (or even if you don’t), reach out to the engineers at Torq N’ Seal® for help specifying the correct plug for your application. Our engineers have decades of experience with all types of heat exchanger tube plugging and are the best resource we offer. Whether it is questions about the manufacturing tolerance of your tubes, unique tube designs with rifling, or aging heat exchangers with unclear design specs, our team of engineers is eager to get into the weeds and help solve problems for our customers.

Torq N’ Seal® Heat Exchanger Plugs


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Know your fin fan exchangerDifficulties with plugging fin fan exchangersThe NEW Tap N’ Seal® patented expandable tapered plugNEW Tap N’ Seal® Expandable Tapered PlugBig improvement over traditional one piece plugsContact Torq N’ Seal® today!