Serpentine Heat Exchanger Unblocking

darTT cleaning system avoids coil removal and cutting


Excessive water scaling was the cause of a number of problems at this aircraft manufacturing site. The key focus for the Tube Tech team was to tackle a blockage in critical equipment.


  • Contamination of heavy suspended solids had completely blocked a 5-cm diameter carbon-steel heating coil – a very critical item of plant that supplies steam for their production processes.
  • The mixture of silicates and carbonates had baked within the steel coil and was resistant to the effects of chemical cleaning treatments formerly employed.
  • The client had considered replacing the blocked 100-metre coil.
  • Apart from being costly, this option would have resulted in several weeks of downtime, performance reduction and the need for alternative ways of heating.
Coiled Heat Exchanger Coiled Heat Exchanger Coiled Heat Exchanger Morning cleaning information


  • Tube Tech rejected the traditional approach of removing the coil and cutting it to clear the blockage.
  • Instead Tube Tech recommended its own bespoke methods. It is believed this was the first time that a coil so blocked was cleared by a triple cleaning process with the coil intact.
  • The work was subject to two detailed inspections, the first using sound impedance developed by Tube Tech to assess the location and length of the problem.
  • The blockage was then approached from both ends using a rotary drill within a protective water jacket.
  • This Softdrill method loosened the blockage in tandem with ultrasound equipment which vibrated blockages too far down the coil for the flexible unit to reach.
  • The darTT system was fired through the coil until a full bore was achieved and a final chemical flush removed any loose deposits.
  • The client saved on the high cost of replacement and the inconvenience of the cutting-and-cleaning method and still achieved a coil returned to its efficient full bore.
  • Additional reasons against the cutting approach were haphazard welded patches with the potential for future leakage.

Client Comment

Facilities Team Leader: “I was pleased with the work done by Tube Tech which was effective in that we have the coil back in operation. We have the potential for more work for which I will be contacting Tube Tech very soon.”

Tube Tech Comment

Managing Director Mike Watson: “Coiled or serpentine tubes are often the most difficult to clean, due mainly to inaccessibility combined with tortuous routes and hard deposits. Our teams avoided cutting the coil. Blockages were cleared and scale extracted using technology specifically developed by Tube Tech. We had the added difficulty of access via a 90-degree flange to enter the twin-coiled tube.”

For more information or to discuss your cleaning challenge call us on +44 1268 786999 or e-mail, alternatively Click here to fill in our contact form.