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MCAA MCAA Toolbox Safety Talks AGAn 49 Pressure Testing The two most common types of pressure testing for piping systems are hydrostatic testing and pneumatic testing. Hydrostatic testing is less danger- ous than pneumatic testing, but both methods can be hazardous if not per- formed properly. Here are some things that you should consider before you start to test a system. © In hydrostatic testing, water is pumped into the piping system and pressur- ized with air or nitrogen. This method is the less hazardous of the two because water can’t be compressed. Therefore, the system is not under as auch pressure as it would be in a pneumatic test. © Ifa system fails during a hydrostatic test it becomes appafent immediately. Water sprays out from the failed area until the pressure equalizes. © Damage from hydrostatic testing is usually limited to typical water damage. © In pneumatic testing, air is compressed inside the test area, which gener- ates a tremendous amount, of energy. The stored energy can be extremely hazardous if the system fails to contain it. © Ifa system fails during pneumatic testing, the energy released from the failed area can send fittings or system fragments flying through the air at high rates of speed, making them extremely hazardous to anyone in the area. © The most common failure with pneumatic testing is to employ too much pressure to the system. Never employ more than 6 psi to the system. © When conducting pneumatic tests be sure to: > Use a gauge that’s graduated no more than three times the test pressure > Vent trapped air > Depressurize the system > Use extreme caution when removing the test plugs © Whenever possible, use hydrostatic testing instead of pneumatic testing. © Remember that either test can be tricky during cold weather because tem- peratures below freezing can make steel somewhat brittle. Be sure to check things out with your supervisor before you conduct pressure tests in cold conditions.