When it comes to performing service on your flow meter, you often have two choices: sending the flow meter out to a specialty company or attempting the work yourself. Depending on the work involved and the skill level required, performing some flow meter 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 flow meter accuracy.
To help you understand your options regarding DIY flow meter maintenance, here are some points to consider.
What is an Ultrasonic Flow Meter?
Ultrasonic flow meters 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 flow meter 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.
Flow Meter Maintenance and Repair Processes Based Flow Meter Location
Flow meters are often installed in a pipe. However, some flow meters 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 flow meters is as simple as tightening the component onto the pipe, as it can come loose over time.
Repairs on clamp-on ultrasonic flow meters 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 flow meters also require some simple maintenance tasks that can be manageable for businesses interested in DIY. For example, the probe associated with the flow meter 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 flow meter maintenance and repair procedures for internal ultrasonic flow meters 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 Flow Meter Location
Similar to the repair and maintenance requirements, replacing a clamp-on ultrasonic flow meter 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 flow meters 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 flow meter replacements may be required.
Performing Regular Calibration
Flow meters 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 flow meter 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 flow meters, increasing the chance of accurate readings and proper adjustments.
Every flow meter 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 flow meter 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 flow meter 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 flow meter maintenance and repair.
In some cases, flow meters can be removed from the pipe and sent away for maintenance or repair procedures. In regards to clamp-on ultrasonic flow meters, this process is quite simple. However, internal ultrasonic flow meters do require the associated pipe be disconnected to gain access to the flow meter 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.