How Do I Know When My Spray Nozzle is Worn?

nozzle wear and performance - How do I know when my spray nozzle is worn

Industries utilizing spray nozzle systems as part of their production process understand the critical importance of properly functioning nozzles. Poor spray patterns can severely damage functionality.

When can you determine that your spray nozzle is worn and ready to be replaced? In the content below, we discuss common symptoms of nozzle wear and performance correcting maintenance designed to extend nozzle life.

Spray Nozzle Maintenance

Every spray nozzle system owner should perform regular maintenance to extend nozzle life! Following a few basic guidelines will prolong the practical use of your nozzle system.

1. Select the Proper Nozzle Material

Before purchasing a nozzle system for your application, consider the intended environment. Certain spray nozzles are designed to withstand extreme environments, while others are not. For example, if your nozzle will be exposed to extreme temperatures, harsh environments, or corrosive liquids, consider using a spray nozzle made of hard material with a high abrasion resistance ratio. Materials such as PTFE or PVDF are excellent for applications involving corrosive chemicals.

If you did not consider environmental factors during time of purchase, it is not too late to perform maintenance. Simply evaluate your nozzle environment against nozzle material and make necessary adjustments.

2. Add a Line Strainer or Filter

During operation, the liquid source utilized for spraying through the nozzle can contain dirt, minerals, or other particles that can clog the nozzle orifice. Over time, clogging can result in premature deterioration. While some nozzles come with a built-in strainer to prevent particulates from entering the nozzle, filters can also be added. Check your nozzles for a filtration system – if missing, consider adding one!

3. Clean Regularly with the Proper Tools

Regular nozzle cleaning is beneficial if performed with the proper care and tools. As a rule of thumb, use only plastic bristle brushes and wooden or plastic probes. Tools such as wire brushes and metal knives can damage the nozzle orifice shape.

If the nozzle is clogged, consider soaking it in a non-corrosive cleaning chemical. Eventually, the chemical will soften and dissolve any particulate matter.

4. Detect Irregular Spray Patterns

Irregular spray patterns differ, depending on the nozzle type. Understanding signs of irregularity by spray nozzle type is important to prevent further damage when detected.

  1. Flat fan nozzles – a heavy flow in the center of the spray pattern and/or a reduced coverage angle are irregular.
  2. Full cone nozzles – a higher concentration of liquid flowing toward the center of the pattern is a sign of irregularity.
  3. Hollow cone nozzles – streaks in the circular spray ring pattern and/or changes in flow rate are irregular.

5. Schedule Routine Maintenance

Inspecting your spray nozzles should become part of your standard operating procedure to be done on a regular basis. Among the most common routine nozzle maintenance tasks, always perform these procedures:

  • Check nozzle alignment
  • Inspect nozzle damage
  • Examine spray pattern quality
  • Monitor changes or abnormalities in flow rate

Common Signs of Nozzle Wear

While regular preventative maintenance should be performed to elongate spray nozzle life, nozzles eventually wear. Understanding when your nozzle is worn and needs to be fixed or replaced begins with knowing the various types of damage and what they look like.

Damaged Nozzles

  • Wear and Erosion: When a nozzle begins to wear or erode, the material will gradually deteriorate due to abrasion, enlarging the orifice.
  • Corrosion: Corrosion is often the result of a chemical reaction. When the nozzle reacts to its environment or the sprayed liquid, a buildup of oxides or salt around the outside of the nozzle tip can form. The symptoms of corrosion resemble those of wear and erosion.
  • High Temperature: When a spray nozzle is improperly exposed to harsh environmental temperatures for extended periods of time, the material will begin to break down. As discussed earlier, this can occur when the nozzle is made of an improper material for the environment it is exposed to.
  • Caking or Bearding: Caking is the buildup of materials around the orifice, causing obstruction. Buildup occurs when the liquid being sprayed is evaporated.
  • Clogging: As formerly discussed, clogging is the result of particles from the liquid becoming lodged in the orifice.
  • Accidental Damage: Relatively easy to diagnose, accidental damage is physical damage. This damage could result from the abrasive nature of improper cleaning tools or an accidental drop during installation.
  • Improper Assembly: Although any nozzle could be incorrectly installed in a spray system, nozzles with accessories such as caps, gaskets, O-rings, and valves are more apt to incorrect installation, resulting in premature damage.

Indications of Poor Spray Performance

If apparent damage cannot be immediately detected, sets of symptoms indicate poor spray performance. If you notice any of these indications during routine inspections, a variety of solutions are available.

Symptom Set One:

  • Higher flow rates
  • Reduction in spray angle
  • Decrease in spray impact and pressure
  • Formation of larger droplets
  • Irregular spray patterns

If these symptoms occur, you may consider either replacing the nozzle, selecting a material with more abrasion resistance, or selecting a material with more corrosion resistance.

Symptom Set Two:

  1. Softened material
  2. Unpredictable performance

Once more, these symptoms may demand nozzle replacement with material of resistance to high temperatures.

Symptom Set Three:

  1. Reduced flow rate
  2. Reduced spray angle
  3. Reduced spray pattern

If these symptoms occur, thoroughly clean the nozzle with proper, non-abrasive cleaners and solvents, clean out the nozzle orifice and internals with appropriate tools, and investigate a filtration solution.

Symptom Set Four:

  1. Noticeable damage to the outside of the nozzle
  2. Leakage around the nozzle
  3. Unpredictable performance

Unfortunately, this set of symptoms often requires nozzle replacement.

Symptom Set Five:

  1. Possible leakage around the nozzle
  2. Irregular spray pattern

If these symptoms are noticed, disassemble the nozzle, and inspect for component damage before reassembly.

Lechler: Spray Nozzle Experts

Every nozzle owner should perform preventative maintenance to help extend nozzle life. However, diagnosing the cause of poor spray performance is not always intuitive. At Lechler, we are more than just a nozzle manufacturer. We are nozzle experts, ready to help answer your questions as they arise. Additionally, for SELECTOSPRAY Systems and Descale Headers, our refurbishment services restore damaged systems for optimal use.

With any questions about the proper nozzles to purchase for your application, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team at 800-777-2926 or via our online contact form!