Understanding Corrosion in Water Pipelines: A Guide for Pipeline Designers


How to Select the Best Value Monitoring and Testing Tools

By Kevin Kirst
Published: June 17, 2016 | Last updated: April 1, 2020
Key Takeaways

Make the best value choice when selecting corrosion monitoring and testing tools.

Source: Christian Lagereek / Dreamstime.com

The water heater in your home suddenly stops working, and you have a purchasing decision to make. To save costs now, do you:

  • Buy an inexpensive water heater, which may not provide as much hot water as your family needs, and that you will need to replace in a few years?
  • Select a higher quality model that your plumber recommends, which fully meets your needs for up to 20 years?

Your decision will depend on several factors, including how much you can afford to spend now and how long you plan to be in the home.

For many of us, the best choice is obvious: purchase the higher quality water heater that will perform better and last longer, which means the total replacement cost will be less in the long run.


In business, we routinely face similar buying decisions. Do we purchase a higher quality product that will last longer, perform better, and fully meet our needs, or do we spend less money now for a substandard product that will help us just get by?

Safety First for Pipelines and Processes

When it comes to pipelines and processes, “good enough” is not an option when required to comply with regulations and protect the safety of employees, communities and the environment. (For more on safety, read about The Impact of the Pipeline Safety Act of 2011 on the Industry.) The question then becomes, how do we recognize the solutions that offer the highest quality and the best long-term value?

Longer Product Insertion Lengths Translate to Optimum Placement in Pipelines and Processes

The best service tools are designed with smart engineering, with longer travel lengths of 4 to 20 feet (approximately 1.2 to 6 m). A longer travel length allows an operator to perfectly place a corrosion coupon holder, chemical atomizer, or injection and sample quill within a pipeline or process for peak effectiveness. In the case of chemical injection, chemical use is minimized by placing an atomizer at the right spot in the pipeline or process.


Smart engineering also makes it easier to insert the product, resulting in the safest and most efficient operational steps possible. High quality insertion tools are lightweight (less than 30 pounds) but offer travel lengths up to 20 feet for hard to reach application locations. These quality tools are clearly superior to other designs that only provide for a maximum insertion length of about 4 feet, and weigh upwards of 100 pounds, with a service valve adding up to 50 pounds.

The Best Safety Features in a Patented Technology Product

Corrosion coupon holders, chemical atomizers, or injection and sample quills are placed into a pipeline or process with the aid of an insertable tool holder. Ideally, tool holders will offer ease of use and custom configurations for maximum versatility. (See How Corrosion Coupon Holders Can Preserve Your Valuable Assets.) Superior tools have a patented locking collet that safely secures a shaft within a process stream until it is released by the operator. Tools that are designed and manufactured per the industry standards in ASME B31.3 and that provide a Canadian Registration Number are desirable.


Lighter Tools are Safer Tools

Mechanically inserted tool holders used in high-pressure pipeline and process systems (500 to 5,000 psi) require tools to easily insert and remove them from the system without interfering with the system’s operation. The best high-pressure insertion and retraction tools have a side handle crank so the operator is able to work from a stable and secure position to the side of the tool. In addition, they can be operated upside-down or in any other position for hard to access locations, and are non-telescoping to minimize the space needed for operation. Heavier tools that require large clearances and a hydraulic assist to operate them usually result in unsatisfactory outcomes.

Reduce the Number of Tools and Manpower Requirements

Look for insertion and retraction tools that are designed to make insertion and retraction under pressure safe, easy and cost effective, with only one tool needed to insert and retract tool holders into multiple nearby pressurized systems. Remember, the tool is only used during the insertion or retraction operation and then is removed, so only one tool is needed to service several installations. Sturdy but lightweight tools can be operated easily by one person. These two factors can reduce expenses for both tools and manpower without sacrificing quality or safety.

Quality as a Key Consideration

Quality outweighs unsafe tools and the perceived benefit of a low initial purchase price. Generally, corrosion-monitoring tools with a good design and high quality are more robust and dependable, and can offer longer time between services. The best corrosion monitoring products are price-competitive and perform consistently and repeatedly in the challenging environments found in oil and gas extraction and petroleum refining plants. They also play a key role by preventing catastrophic failures due to corrosion in equipment and assets while protecting the safety of operators and the environment.

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Written by Kevin Kirst | Industry Manager, Sentry Equipment Corp

Kevin Kirst
As industry manager for the refinery market, Kevin employs his 25-plus years of experience in engineering, application support and sales to develop new ways to sample, monitor and measure customers’ processes, with a primary focus on the crude oil refining industry. Like all our company employee-owners, Kevin is committed to developing technologies and equipment that allow customers to operate their processes at optimal efficiency while maintaining high levels of safety and product quality.

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