When it comes to performing service on your flowmeter, you often have two choices: sending the flowmeter out to a specialty company or attempting the work yourself. Depending on the work involved and the skill level required, performing some flowmeter maintenance as a DIY project can lead to significant cost savings. However, it isn’t necessarily a task that should be handled by someone without the necessary knowledge and experience to complete the task while maintaining flowmeter accuracy.
To help you understand your options regarding DIY flowmeter maintenance, here are some points to consider.
What is an Ultrasonic Flowmeter?
Ultrasonic flowmeters use an ultrasonic transducer to measure the velocity of a fluid, such as water. It uses a series of sound waves that pass through the fluid to a receiver, compensating for the known resistance based on the pipe materials involved and the type of installation involved.
Typically, there are two forms ultrasonic flowmeter designs.
- One version uses the Doppler Effect as a method for determining velocity.
- The second options uses the transit time based on two selected stationary points.
Regardless of the design used, both generally yield highly accurate results making them ideal for tasks such as calculating residential or commercial water usage from the local utility company.
Flowmeter Maintenance and Repair Processes Based Flowmeter Location
Flowmeters are often installed in a pipe. However, some flowmeters have external options. For example, certain ultrasonic meters feature a clamp-on design. This means the component is highly accessible and often easy to remove, both of which makes performing maintenance tasks easier. In fact, some maintenance requirements for clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters is as simple as tightening the component onto the pipe, as it can come loose over time.
Repairs on clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters are also simplified based on the location. Should any component require an adjustment or repair, the entire unit can be removed without needing to compromise the integrity of the pipe.
Internal ultrasonic flowmeters also require some simple maintenance tasks that can be manageable for businesses interested in DIY. For example, the probe associated with the flowmeter may require periodic cleaning to remove impurities and debris. Additionally, the pipe flange may require attention to ensure the links are good.
However, it is important to note that flowmeter maintenance and repair procedures for internal ultrasonic flowmeters often require accessing the pipe as well. Depending on the fluids involved and the risk of contamination, this may not be a task someone without notable experience may want to take on.
Replacement Procedures Based Flowmeter Location
Similar to the repair and maintenance requirements, replacing a clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeter is also much simpler than one installed internally. Since the clamp-on variant does not impact the integrity of the pipe in any way, it can simply be removed should it be faulty. Then, a new one can be added in the place of the old one. Typically, only a secure fit and proper calibration are required outside of any basic installation instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Since internal ultrasonic flowmeters are more invasive, the replacement process is more involved. Aside from following the installation instructions, you will also have to make sure the pipe is properly repaired to prevent leaks or contamination of its contents. Depending on the fluids involved, even breaching the pipe to do the repair can lead to some risk. It is important to consider this when deciding whether to manage the task on your own, or if the assistance of a specialist focused on ultrasonic flowmeter replacements may be required.
Performing Regular Calibration
Flowmeters must be calibrated on a regular basis to ensure accurate readings. This should be done on a regular schedule or whenever it appears the reading may not be accurate. Often, this requires following prescribed processes as described by the manufacturer as well as the use of various calculations designed specifically for the task at hand.
In most cases, companies need to calibrate to a higher standard than the operation actually requires. Often, this is based on ensuring the unit under test results are four times the level of accuracy that is needed for the specific operation in question. The rate of flow from the flowmeter can be compared to a test device known to meet the standard. By using a simultaneous approach, you can ensure the viscosity of the fluid remains the same for both flowmeters, increasing the chance of accurate readings and proper adjustments.
Every flowmeter must meet recognized national standards to ensure your business is operating with the level of accuracy customers will expect. Otherwise, you may be over- or underserving your clients, resulting in either lost profits when too much product is dispensed or potentially lost business if not enough product is provided.
Typically, basic calibrations can be managed as DIY flowmeter maintenance, as long as you have access to the proper test devices and are comfortable making adjustments as required.
When In Doubt
Sometimes, it may seem like a flowmeter operational issue is beyond your expertise, or you may simply not be comfortable with completing the task. When that occurs, it is often wise to seek assistance from someone who is adept at managing the maintenance steps required. At times, this may involve the work of a skilled employee you have on staff. In others, you may want to use a company focused on flowmeter maintenance and repair.
In some cases, flowmeters can be removed from the pipe and sent away for maintenance or repair procedures. In regards to clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters, this process is quite simple. However, internal ultrasonic flowmeters do require the associated pipe be disconnected to gain access to the flowmeter for its removal. In cases where this poses a high amount of risk, working with a professional may be ideal to ensure everything is handled as safely as possible.
Failing to complete certain maintenance activities properly can lead to inaccurate readings and poor performance. Unless you feel well equipped and fully knowledgeable regarding the task at hand, it is better to err on the side of caution and seek the help of a professional.