Adopted from an article for the Fluid Sealing Association written by FSA Member Mike Shorts
The question on how best to store gaskets, O-rings and gasket material comes up often. Most maintenance, warehouse and procurement professionals want to protect the investment they make in their gaskets and other sealing items. Like other consumable items, gasket manufacturers have recommended storage requirements. I will outline the FSA’s recommendations on how best to store gaskets later in this blog post. First, a brief review on gasket material is in order before we make suggest several general principles on the optimum way to store gaskets. Or, better yet, how to improve the way you are currently storing gaskets?
There are many good reasons why it is important to store gaskets properly. First, the gasket is faulted in the majority of bolted flange connection failures (see Sealing Sense, January 2008). As a result of our immediate inclination to blame the gasket, it is imperative to give the gasket a chance to perform at its optimum level before it is installed.
Gaskets can be made of complex material. Consider rubber-bound sheet gasket materials. Upward of 15 to 20 individual components have to interact to provide the best finished product. The principal components include the rubber binder, the reinforcing fibers and the filler components.
Everyone is aware that rubber deteriorates relatively quickly unless it has been formulated to withstand specific environmental conditions to which it will be exposed during its lifetime. Gaskets are not designed to be stored for an extended period under some of the common storage conditions we will briefly describe. Rubber chemicals used in gasket manufacturing are intended to provide optimal processability during manufacturing and optimal performance in a bolted flange connection.
Reinforcing Fibers and Fillers
Reinforcing fibers are often considered the one component that is indestructible and unaffected by abuse. In the days before the conversion to man-made fibers, that may have been the case. In today’s world, modern fibers can gradually dry out, weather and deteriorate.
In addition, filler components may arguably be the largest contributor to gasket deterioration. These components come in many forms from many different chemical families and are generally unique to every manufacturer. They are selected and combined to optimize gasket performance and maintain a cost level that the end user can afford. They can often deteriorate quickly in a storage environment because they were designed to work in a more aggressive, pressurized and chemical environment.
Binders combine all the components in the gasket. With the manufacturer’s unique mixing process, these components greatly contribute to the material’s flexibility. As the gasket ages naturally, and depending on the way the finished gasket or sheet was stored,problems such as stretching, distortion, cracking and sticking can occur.
Other Gasket Types
Other industrial gasket types (PTFE, semi-metallic and metallic) are not as susceptible to poor storage conditions but can be affected. Excessive dust can settle on gaskets and cause compatibility issues with the media being sealed. High humidity and moisture can also cause metallic components to oxidize.
Location – Location – Location
The base guideline of most gasket manufacturers is to store gaskets and gasketing material in a cool, dry location away from heat, excessive humidity, direct sunlight and chemicals. The optimum storage conditions are defined as 40-deg F to 80-deg F with 40 to 75 percent relative humidity, in a room with no windows and non-UV or low-UV producing lights, minimal dust and no chemical storage nearby.
Optimal Storage Conditions
Gaskets are one of the most critical components in a piping system. To give them a chance to work the way they were designed, they need to be stored in a way that minimizes deterioration. It is easy to recommend storage in a perfect world. Since we do not work in ideal conditions, here are a few general gasket storage guidelines to follow:
- Optimize existing storage practices and locations,
- Minimize exposure to dusty environments,
- Minimize emperature fluctuations, high/low temperatures and exposure to UV light and chemical vapors.
- If you store cut gaskets on a pegboard, do not leave them there long as they will stretch. Put them on a shelf, if possible.
- Roll remnant sheet material relatively tightly, band it and if possible, wrap in something opaque like cardboard. Stand the roll up so it is not tilted. It is better if you can store your sheet material flat. Make sure to keep the spacers in place on spiral wound gaskets.
- If possible, keep your storage area away from large receiving doors. Install a curtain around the area to avoid direct drafts if this is where your storage area is located. Covering the immediate top of gaskets from direct light exposure will also help.
These steps will help ensure the best piping and or flange system performance for the longest time possible. When fewer gaskets are wasted due to deterioration from poor storage the result is additional money to combat real problems.
Sealing Sense is produced by the Fluid Sealing Association as part of their commitment to industry consensus technical education .
If you have further questions and or comments contact Four States Gasket and Rubber, Inc
In the Greater Denver Region –
Contact Steven Liparoto, Denver Regional Sales Manager at 720-878-1053, email firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Four Corner area (New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Southern Colorado)
Contact Travis Johnson, Out Side Sales at 505-330-8810, email email@example.com
Or Scott Blades, General Manager at 505-325-9806, email firstname.lastname@example.org