Pitting of Stainless Steel Heat-Exchanger Tubes Due to Chloride Ions in Flush Water
AISI type 410 stainless steel tube bundles in a heat exchanger experienced leakage during hydrostatic testing even before being in service. The inside surfaces of the tubes was observed to have been pitted. Chloride-ion pitting was revealed by the undercutting in the cross section of a pit and further confirmed by x-ray spectrometry. It was concluded that the failure was caused by pitting due to chlorides in the water used to flush the tubes before service. The use of brackish water to flush or test stainless steel equipment was recommended to avoid pitting.