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Storage Tank (API 650)

Shop Fabrication Inspection


1

Material Receiving Inspection Report

Check visual (free of lamination & damage).

Check certificate (keaslian, Heat No & Plate No).

Check dimensional (Length, Thickness, Width & Diameter).


2

Marking

Check dimensional marking.

Check transfer heat no.


3

After Cutting

Check dimensional.

Check traceability (Heat No & Plate No).

Check Stamp Marking.


4

Rolling

Check visual (free of damage).

Check edge preparation.

Check Rolling radius.


5

Painting

Check material painting (batch no, self life, brand).

Check Ambient Condition (surface & whether).

Check DFT.

Field Erection Inspection
6

Dimensional Inspection
1

Peaking banding
Peaking measured using a horizontal sweep board 36 inch (900 mm) long. Tolerance of
peaking shall not exceed inch (12.7 mm).
Banding measured using a straight edge vertical sweep board 36 inch (900 mm) long.
Tolerance of peaking shall not exceed inch (12.7 mm).


2

Roundness

Check roundness at 0, 45, 90, 135, 180, 225, 270, 325

Radius measured at 1 foot above the bottom corner weld shall not exceed the
following tolerance:

Diameter Tolerance
< 40
40 150
150 250 1
250 1

3

Plumbness

Check at 0, 45, 90, 135, 180, 225, 270

The plumbness of the top of shell relative to the bottom of the shell not exceed
1/200 of the total tank height.

The out of plumbness in one shell plate (single course) shall not exceed 1/250 of
the course height.

7

Visual
Visual examinations shall be carried out during all stages of fabrication to ensure that the
completed fabrication meets COMPANY satisfaction and approval with particular attention
being paid to the following:
A weld shall be acceptable by this kind of inspection if the conditions are fulfilled :

The weld has no crater cracks or other surface cracks.

The maximum acceptable undercutting is 1/64 inches of the base metal for vertical
joints, and 1/32 inches maximum for horizontal joints. For the welds that attach nozzles,
manholes, clean-out opening, and permanent attachments, no undercutting exceeds 1/64
inches.

The frequency of surface porosity in the weld does not exceed one cluster (one or more
pores) in any 4 inches of length, and the diameter of each cluster does not exceed 3/32
inches.
Welds that fail to meet the criteria given in paragraph above, shall be reworked prior to
hydrostatic testing as follows :

Defects shall be removed by mechanical means or thermal gouging processes.

If the resulting thickness is less than minimum required as per hydrostatic test design
conditions, re-welding is required.

The repair weld shall be visually examined for defects prior to reexamined by
radiography.

8

NDT
1

Oil leak test
media solar, method spray, temperature ambient, holding period 4 hours.

2

Vacuum box test
Vacuum testing shall conduct as follows:

Vacuum testing is conveniently performed by means of a metal testing box, 6 inches


wide x 30 inches long, with a glass window in the top. The open bottom is sealed
against the tank surface by a sponge-rubber gasket. Suitable connections, valves, and
gauges should be provided.

Approximately 30 inches of the seam under test is brushed with a soap solution or
linseed oil. The vacuum box is placed over the coated section of the seam, and a
vacuum is applied to the box. Bubbles or foam produced by air sucked through the
welded seam will indicate the presence of porosity in the seam.

A vacuum can be drawn on the box by any convenient method, such as connection to
a gasoline or diesel-motor intake manifold or to an air ejector or special vacuum
pump.

Vacuum box tested using a test pressure at least 3 psi gauge or as specified on
Company specification.


3

Radiography test

Radiographic examination method shall be in accordance with the ASME section V,


Article 2.

Radiographic inspection is required for shell butt weld, annular-plate butt welds, and
flush-type connection with butt welds.

Inspection by radiographic method is not required for roof-plate or bottom-plate


welds, for welds joining roof plates to top angle, the top angle to the shell plates, shell
plates to bottom plates, or appurtenances to tanks.

Number and location of radiographic shall minimum as specified on API Standard


650, Section 6. Vendor shall submit proposal of number and location of radiographic
to CONTRACTOR/COMPANY for review and approval.

The radiographers shall be certified by the manufacturer meeting the requirement as


outlined by ASNT Recommended Practice SNT-TC-1A and its supplement.

Vendor shall submit the radiography test result to CONTRACTOR/COMPANY for


review and approval. The penetrameter image as result of radiography shall clearly
enough for visual examination on a radiograph viewer. The acceptance criteria of
radiographs result shall be judged as specified on ASME Section VIII Div. 1, par.
UW-51 (b).

Repairing defective welds shall be done by chipping or melting out the defects from
one or both side of joint, as required, and proceed with re-welding. All repaired welds
are subject to be re-tested as specified above.

4

Penetrant test

Liquid penetrant examination shall be performed in accordance to ASME Section V,


Article 6.

Magnetic particle examiner shall meet the requirements on API Standard 650 par.
6.4.3.

The acceptance criteria and repair of defects shall be per ASME Section VIII,
Division 1, Appendix 8, Par. 8-3, 8-4, and 8-5.

5

Ultrasonic test

Ultrasonic examination method shall be in accordance with ASME Section


V, article 5.

Ultrasonic examiner shall be qualified in accordance with as specified on API


Standard 650 par. 6.3.3.

The acceptance criteria and repair of defects shall be per ASME Section VIII,
Division 1, Appendix 12, Par. 12-3 and 12-4.




This is very common in tank construction. Main reason is improper erection (erection method which
doesnt take care weld distortion). Sequences shall be (A) Lay tank bottom plates tack weld (B) Fit
and weld lap joint short seams (only alternate seams with strong backs tacked along the line of weld
seam to minimize distortion) (C) Fit and weld lap joint long seams (only alternate seams with strong
backs tacked along the line of weld seam to minimize distortion) (D) Mark the shell diameter in the
floor. Tack blank nuts along the circumferential line to arrest the shell in place.

Flat bottom tank might show some degree of irregularities at shell to bottom junction. Most of the
irregularities like waviness of bottom plate, gap at periphery, localized shell buckling will disappear
after the erection of roof, anchor bolt tightening and hydrotest etc. During hydrotest the shell and
bottom get pre-stressed and regain the equilibrium geometric shape.

It may not be digestible for client or owner. Contractor shall educate them and give assurance. If the
issue is not solved even after the hydrotest, Establish acceptance limit per Annex B of API653
(API650 doesnt cover this aspect). Perform thorough engineering evaluation.

Please refer Criteria for Settlement of Tanks by W. Allen Marr, Jose A. Ramos, T. William Lambe to
understand the engineering aspect.

If any repair become necessary, grouting, bottom plate stiffening are the main options. Shell to Flat
bottom Junction Stress Analysis by L.P. Zick specifies stiffening method and PIP STEO3020 specifies
grouting technique such as pressure grouting (paragraph 6.8.4.4) If the jacking exposes a large
unsupported area under the tank, applying a flowable grout or sand layer can provide a planar
foundation for the tank bottom. However, miscellaneous injection of grout through holes cut through
the bottom plates is typically ineffective and can interfere with re-leveling.


Tank construction is like owning a Neapolitan Mastiff dog, if you are systematic, methodic and
proactive, you will be the proud master, otherwise dog keeps on giving pain. If the field QC omitted
level check prior to foundation handover and there is level difference beyond acceptable limit,
Evaluation study is a must.

a. Elevation of foundation should be ascertained before laying bottom plates.
b. Set up level at center of foundation. Shoot foundation elevation using Stadia rod.
c. Top of the ring wall shall be smooth and level within +/- 3 mm in any 9m span. No point in the
circumference shall vary more than +/- 6mm from specified grade.
Have you used impregnated fiber board above the ring wall? What is the grouting thickness used?
Have you cut grouting to accommodate the annular plate backing bar? Have you used

First thing you measure the level of level of first shell course to second shell course weld joint, using a
flexible transparent tube filled with water (water level). If there is irregularities, you are lucky, there is
some room for settlement during hydrotest.

Joint Defect (Radiography Test)
POROSITY
: is the result of gas entrapment in the solidifying metal.
Ciri: Tampak dalam radiography bayangan bulat hitam dengan pinggiran rata / jelas.
Standard:
1.

ANSI B31.1
Diameter max 1/3 T atau 1/8 in. (Setiap diameternya) porosity yang diizinkan
adalah 3 x besar max. pada luas 1 in. dari las.
2.

ASME IX & I
Diameter max. 0.06 T untuk setiap panjang 6 in. atau 20% T atau 1/8 in. Porosity
yang ada pada tebal material 1 in. besarnya tidak lebih dari 30% T atau in. atau
5/32 in. Untuk T > 2 in. besar porosity tidak lebih besar dari 3/8 in.
3.

API 1104
Besar bulatan porosity max. 1/8 in. atau 25% T. Cluster (lokasi porosity atau
porosity terkumpul) luas max. tidak lebih dari in. dan besar tiap porosity tidak
lebih dari 1.6 mm pada lasan sepanjang 12 in.
Hollow Bead :
Pada setiap hollow bead besarnya tidak lebih dari in. pada las sepanjang 12 in.
4.

API 850
Sama dengan standard ASME Sect. IX

SLAG INCLUSIONS
: are nonmetallic solid material entrapped in weld metal or between weld and base metal
Ciri: Tampak dalam radiography bayangan hitam dengan garis pinggir yang tidak beraturan
Standard:
1.
ANSI B31.1
Besar/panjang max.
1/3 T

Lebar max.
1/3 T
(2.4mm)
Panjang las 12 in. panjang tidak lebih 1 in.
2. ASME IX & I
T mat.
s
19.05 mm
6
.3 mm
T mat. 19.05 57.15 mm

1/3 T
T mat.
>
57.15 mm
19
mm
3.

API 1104
Pada pengelasan sepanjang 12 in.
panjangnya tidak lebih dari 2 in. dan lebar 1.6 mm.
4. API 850
Sama dengan API 1104.

INCOMPLETE PENETRATION (IP) or lack of penetration (LOP)
: occurs when the weld metal fails to penetrate the joint.
Ciri: Tampak dalam radiography jalur hitam ditengah-tengah las secara kon tinyu atau
terputus-putus dan pinggirannya lurus atau tajam
Standard:
1.

ANSI B31.1 : Tidak mengizinkan
2.

ASME IX & I : Tidak mengizinkan
3.

API 1104 : Tidak mengizinkan
4.

API 850 : Tidak mengizinkan

INCOMPLETE FUSION
: is a condition where the weld filler metal does not properly fuse with the base metal
Ciri: Tampak dalam radiography gambar bayangan hitam bulat dan tergantung dari
arah datangnya sinar.
Standard:
1.

ANSI B31.1 : No Allowable
2.

ASME IX & I : No Allowable
3.

API 1104 : Las sepanjang 12 IF tidak lebih dari 1 (8 % dari 12
in.)
4.

API 850 : No Allowable

INTERNAL OR ROOT UNDERCUT
: is an erosion of the base metal next to the root of the weld.
Ciri: Tampak dalam radiography jalur hitam sepanjang las
Standard:
1.

ANSI B31.1
Kedalaman concavity tidak lebih dari 1.6 mm atau 0.2 T. Bila pada film negatif
warna concavity sama dengan base metal diijinkan.
2.

ASME I & IX
Tidak diijinkan.
3.

API 1104
Maksimum 6.35 mm dengan dia luar. lebih kecil sama 69.85 mm dan dia. luar lebih
besar sama dengan 60.32 mm.
4.

API 850
Tidak diijinkan.

EXTERNAL OR CROWN UNDERCUT
: is an erosion of the base metal next to the crown of the weld.
Ciri: Tampak dalam radiography bayangan hitam dikedua pinggiran las
Standard:
1.

ANSI B31.1 :
Pada pengelasan sepanjang 12 in. panjangnya tidak lebih dari 2 in. dan
kedalamannya 0.8 mm atau 25% dari tebal metal.
2.

ASME I & IX :
Pada pengelasan sepanjang 12 in. panjangnya tidak lebih dari 2 in. dan
kedalamannya 0.8 mm atau 10% dari tebal metal.
3.

API 1104 :
Pada pengelasan sepanjang 12 in. panjangnya tidak lebih dari 2 in. atau 1/6T dan
kedalamannya 0.8 mm atau 12.5% dari tebal metal.
4.

ANSI B.31.1 :
Pada pengelasan sepanjang 12 in. panjangnya tidak lebih dari 2 in. dan
kedalamannya 0.8 mm atau 12.5% dari tebal metal.

EXCESS WELD REINFORCEMENT
: is an area of a weld that has weld metal added in excess of that specified by engineering
drawings and codes
Ciri: Tampak dalam radiography jalur putih yang kontinyu atau putus-putus dalam
bayangan las.
Standard:
1.

ANSI B31.1
T mat.
s
6.35 mm

1.6 mm
T mat. 6.35 mm 12.7 mm

3.2 mm
T mat. 12.7 mm 25.4 mm

4.0 mm
T mat.
>
25.4 mm

4.8 mm
2.

ASME IX & I
T mat. 1.6 mm 2.4 mm
0
.8 mm
T mat. 2.4 mm 4.8 mm
1
.6 mm
T mat. 4.8 mm 25.4 mm
2
.4 mm
T mat. 25.4 mm 50.8 mm

3.2 mm
T mat. 50.8 mm 76.2 mm

4.0 mm
T mat. 76.2 mm 101.6 mm
5
.5 mm
T mat. 101.6 mm 127 mm
6
.3 mm
T mat.
>
127 mm

7.9 mm
3.

API 1104
Sama dengan ASME Sect. IX
4.

API 850
T mat.
s
12.7 mm

Ep. Ver.2.4 mm

Ep.Hor.3.2 mm
T mat. 12.7 25.4 mm

Ep. Ver.3.2 mm

Ep.Hor.4.8 mm
T mat.
>
25.4 mm

Ep. Ver.4.8 mm

Ep.Hor.6.3 mm

CRACKS
: can be detected in a radiograph only when they are propagating in a direction that produces
a change in thickness that is parallel to the x-ray beam
Ciri: Tampak dalam radiography seperti rambut memanjang lancip, berwarna hitam.
Standard:
1.

ANSI B31.1 : No Allowable
2.

ASME IX & I: No Allowable
3.

API 1104 : No Allowable
4.

API 850 : No Allowable

Coating & Painting Inspection
AMBIENT CONDITION
Before initiating surface preparation or coating operations, the temperatures (air and surface), dew
point, relative humidity, and wind velocity must be checked to ensure that they conform to
specification requirements. SSPC-PA 1 provides information on proper conditions for shop and field
painting. Since ambient and steel temperatures may change quickly, they should be measured
periodically throughout the day. ASTM E 337 dictates that the ambient condition test or
environmental test should be done: before, during, and after the application and they must be
monitored at least every four hour interval, even more when the condition are unstable.

TEMPERATURE
The application of a coating system shall occur only when the air & substrate temperature is within
the range indicated by the manufacturers written instructions for both application and curing. A
rule of thumb, no work shall be done when air temperature below 50C and surface temperature less
than 30C above dewpoint temperature.

DEWPOINT
Dewpoint is defined as the temperature at which moisture will condense. Dew point is important in
coating work because moisture condensation on the steel surface will cause freshly blast cleaned
steel to rust, or a thin, often invisible film of moisture trapped between coats may cause premature
coating failure.

RELATIVE HUMIDITY
Due to curing of coatings may be adversely affected by humidity that are too low or too high, no
coating shall be applied unless the supplier or manufacturers written technical requirements for
humidity are met. High humidity may cause moisture to condense on or react with uncured coating
films to cause blushing or other adverse effects. However, for certain inorganic zinc and one-
package, moisture-curing polyurethane coating, require a minimum humidity for curing, but for
most organic coatings, the rule of thumb, no work shall be carried when relative humidity above
85%.

WIND VELOCITY
For field or open air application, wind velocity may blow airborne contaminants to work surfaces and
coating materials. It also contributes to dry spray, dusty-spotted effects to the coated surface and
accelerates solvent evaporation time which may cause immature drying. No work shall be done in
the open air field when the wind velocity above 24 km/hour.

AMBIENT TEST INSTRUMENTS
1.
Surface Magnetic Thermometer is used to measure steel substrate temperature. Must be
allowed to stabilize on surface to be measured for at least 5 minutes. Must be used at actual
location, avoid direct sunlight, and must be calibrated often.

2.
Sling Psychrometer is used to measure wet and dry temperatures. These information are
then used to calculate dewpoint and relative humidity (some latest instrument has dewpoint
and relative humidity scales).

3.
Dewpoint calculator is used to calculate dewpoint temperature and relative humidity. Prior
to use this instrument, data must be first obtained from the Sling Psychrometer.

4.
Anemometer is used to measure wind velocity.


PRE-SURFACE PREP. INSPECTION
Before the start of surface preparation for coating, all necessary construction or modification of
items requiring coating should have been completed. This includes grinding of welds and sharp
edges and filling of pits. Likewise, the surface must be free from all contaminants. Also, the job site
must then be inspected for complete readiness (i.e., all required operational and support equipment
is present, and access for inspection of work is available). This includes safety aspects such as ladders
and scaffolding, power, and traffic control, so that the inspector can safely perform his duties.

ABRASIVE CHECK
All new mineral and slag abrasives must be inspected for physical and chemical properties as
described in SSPC AB 1. Recycled ferrous metal abrasives must be checked for cleanliness and fines
as described in SSPC AB 2. The abrasives should be properly labeled for identification. Even if a
sieve analysis (ASTM C 136) is provided by the supplier, it is prudent to run a check at the job site or
retain a sample for later analysis should cleaning rates be lower or profile heights other than
anticipated.
A simple test can be conducted for contaminants or fines in the abrasive. A spoonful of abrasive is
placed in a vial of distilled water and shaken vigorously. It is then checked for:


Oil or grease that forms a surface sheen


Fines suspended in or at the surface of the water


Color or turbidity from dirt


Soluble salts by conductivity or deposition upon evaporation


Acidity or alkalinity with pH paper

BLASTING EQUIPMENT CHECK
All air compressors and blasting equipment should be checked for proper size, cleanliness,
operation, and safety. Hand or power tools should also be checked for operation and safety, and
should be used only as specified in their standard operating procedures. These checks should be
made before the start of abrasive blasting and periodically thereafter, especially after a change of
abrasive. Air and blast hoses should be checked for damage and constrictions and should be as short
and of as large a diameter as practical to reduce frictional losses of air pressure. The blast hose
should have a static grounding system. Couplings should be of the external fit type, secured well,
and safety-wired.
Blast nozzles should be of the venturi type, with a flared exit to allow more rapid and uniform
cleaning. An orifice gauge should be used to check the nozzle size (inches) and air flow (cfm at 100
psi). This wedge-shaped instrument or bore-nozzle inserted into the rear of the nozzle has a
measuring range of 1/4 to 5/8 inch and an air flow range of 81 to 548 cfm. Nozzles should be
discarded after an increase of one size (e.g., 1/16 inch is the difference between a #6 and a #7
nozzle). All nozzles must have a deadman control that will automatically shut off the flow of air and
abrasive when released.
The compressed air used in abrasive blasting must be checked to determine whether oil and water
traps have completely removed contaminants. This is done by the blotter test described in ASTM D
4285. A clean, dry, white blotter or cloth is held about 18 inches (450 mm) in front of the blast nozzle
with the air flowing for one to two minutes. Oil and water contaminants are detected visually on the
blotter or cloth surface.
Abrasive blasting is usually done at pressures between 90 and 100 psi for efficient blasting. Higher
blasting pressures may produce even higher blasting rates. A pocket-sized air pressure gauge with a
hypodermic needle can be used for determining cleaning pressure at the nozzle. The gauge is
inserted in the blasting hose just before the nozzle in the direction of the flow. Instant readings can
be made up to 160 psi.

POST-SURFACE PREP. INSPECTION
Steel surface cleanliness requirements for abrasive blast cleaned steel (i.e., SSPC levels of surface
preparation) can readily be determined using SSPC-VIS 1 photographic standards. SSPC surface
preparation standards define cleanliness in terms of visible contaminants such as rust, mill scale,
paint, and staining.
Two commonly used methods for determining the profile (average peak-to-valley depth) of blasted
steel surfaces are described in ASTM D 4417. The Testex Press-O-Film Replica Tape method is
preferred, because it is easy to conduct, accurate, and produces a permanent record. The tape
consists of a layer of deformable plastic foam bonded to a Mylar backing. The tape is rubbed onto
the blast-cleaned surface with a plastic swizzle stick to produce a reverse replicate of the profile. The
tape profile is then measured with a spring micrometer. The micrometer can be set to automatically
subtract the two-mil (50 m) thickness of the non-deformable Mylar backing.
An alternate procedure, in which a surface profile comparator is used, is available for determining
surface profile. Comparators include ISO, Clemtex, and Keane-Tator instruments. Basically, they use
a five-power illuminated magnifier to permit visual comparison of the blast-cleaned surface to
standard profile depths. Standards are available for sand, grit, and shot-blast cleaned steel.
Another concern are the non-visible contaminants such as soluble salts, (e.g., chlorides and sulfates).
These salts are deposited from the environment, e.g., marine air, and industrial pollutants. They can
cause problems such as flash rusting of steel or blistering of applied paint films. These contaminants
are not removed by abrasive blast cleaning (or other mechanical methods). A good indication of salt
contamination on blast-cleaned steel is the rapid rerusting of the steel in the absence of condensing
moisture.
ASTM D 4940 provides a water extraction test procedure for determining salt concentration.
Extraction methods include swabbing, rigid limpet cell, and Bresle cell procedures. After extraction,
the water is tested for conductivity and/or specific salt ions. Test kits for analysis of chloride, sulfate,
and ferrous ions, as well as pH, are commercially available from suppliers of coating instruments.
They contain strips, swabs, papers, and operating instructions for simple chemical testing.
Abrasive blast cleaned steel surfaces should be checked to determine if all the residual abrasive has
been removed by vacuuming, brushing, or blowing. Detection of residual abrasive can be done by
pressing a piece of transparent cellophane (Scotch) tape onto the cleaned steel and then pulling it
off. If any abrasive is visually detected on the piece of tape, further removal of abrasive is required.
All blasted steel surfaces should be primed as soon as possible after cleaning, and always on the
same day except in dehumidified spaces. If not primed soon enough, particularly on humid days,
flash rusting of the steel may occur. If any flash rusting is observed, the steel must be reblasted.

PRE-COATING INSPECTION


Coating storage conditions


Mixing procedures


Thinning materials and amounts


Tinting, or color verification


Straining of coatings to remove large particles


Viscosity


Spray equipment check

INSPECTION OF COATING APPLICATION
Inspection during and after coating application consists chiefly of checking for:


Induction time and pot life


Wet and dry film thicknesses


Holidays


Adhesion


Curing


Cosmetic and film defects

INDUCTION TIME AND POT LIFE
For coatings that cure by chemical reaction (thermosetting), the inspector should check to see that
the manufacturers induction time and pot life requirements are met.

WET FILM THICKNESS
Wet film thickness (WFT) measurements should be made immediately after paint application to
determine if the coating is sufficiently thick to obtain the desired dry film thickness (DFT).
Measurement is less accurate on highly pigmented (e.g., zinc-rich) and quick-dry coatings. Since
measurement of WFT destroys the film integrity, the coating must be repaired after the
measurements have been completed. The most widely used type of WFT gauge, described in ASTM
D 4414, consists of a thin rigid metal notched gauge, usually with four working faces. Each of the
notches in each face is cut progressively deeper in graduated steps. The face with the scale that
encompasses the specified thickness is selected for use.
To conduct the measurement, the face is pressed firmly and squarely into the wet paint immediately
after its application. The face is then carefully removed and examined visually. The WFT is the
highest scale reading of the notches with paint adhering to it. Measurements should be made in
triplicate. Faces of gauges should be kept clean by removing the wet paint immediately after each
measurement.

DRY FILM THICKNESS
DFT measurements are made after complete curing of coatings to determine if specified thicknesses
have been met. Calibration of gauges and measurement of DFT by magnetic gauge are described in
detail in SSPC-PA2. Magnetic gauges are normally used for determining coating DFT on steel
surfaces. They rely on the fact that the thicker the coating, the smaller the magnetic field above the
coating. Typical measurement error may be 310 percent.
There are several factors that adversely affect DFT measurements with magnetic gauges. These
include:


Roughness of steel surface (deeper blasted surfaces result in higher measurements)


Steel composition (high alloy steels may have erroneous measurements)


Thickness of steel (there is a minimum thickness for gauge accuracy)


Curvature of steel surface (measurements may be erroneous)


Surface condition (contaminated coating surfaces may cause high readings; pull-off
magnets may adhere to tacky surfaces; probes may indent soft paints)


Orientation of gauge (must be held perpendicular to surface)


Other magnetic fields (strong magnetic fields from direct current welding or railway systems
may interfere)
All magnetic thickness gauges should be calibrated before use. It is also good practice to check the
calibration during and after use. Gauge suppliers provide a set of standard-thickness, nonmagnetic
(plastic or nonferrous metal) shims to cover their working ranges. The shim for instrument
calibration should be selected to match the desired coating thickness. It is placed on a bare steel
surface with the same profile that will be used for the coating application, and the gauge probe is
placed on it for calibration. If the instrument does not agree with the shim measure, it should be
properly adjusted. If adjustment is difficult, the reading for bare steel can be added or subtracted
from field readings to determine actual thicknesses. The steel surface used for calibration should be
a masked-off area of the steel being painted or an unpainted reference panel of similar steel, if
possible.
Another calibration system utilizes a set of small, chrome-plated steel panels of precise thickness,
available from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (formerly the National Bureau of
Standards). These standards are expensive but very accurate. SSPC-PA 2 presents detailed
information on the calibration and use of both pull-off and fixed probe gauges.

HOLIDAY DETECTION
Newly coated structures on which the coating integrity is important (particularly linings or coatings
in immersion conditions) should be tested with a holiday detector to ensure coating film continuity.
A holiday (sometimes called discontinuity) is a pinhole or other break in the film that permits the
passage of moisture to the substrate. This allows substrate deterioration to begin. Holidays are not
easily detected visually, and must be located with electrical instruments called holiday detectors.
Holiday detectors are available in two types, low and high voltage, as described in ASTM D 5162.
Low-voltage (30 to 70 volts) holiday detectors are used on coatings up to 20 mils (500 m) in
thickness. These portable devices have a power source (a battery), an exploring electrode (a
dampened cellulose sponge), an alarm, and a lead wire with connections to join the instrument to
bare metal on the coated structure. A wetting agent that evaporates on drying should be used to
wet the sponge for coatings greater than 10 mils (250 m) in thickness. The wetted sponge is slowly
moved across the coated surface so that the response time is not exceeded. When a holiday is
touched, an electric circuit is completed through the coated metal and connected wire back to the
instrument to sound the alarm. Holidays should be marked after detection for repair and
subsequent retesting.
High-voltage (above 800 volts) holiday detectors are used on coatings greater than 20 mils (500 m)
in thickness. The exploring electrode may consist of a conductive brush or coil spring. The detector
may be a pulse or direct current type. It should be moved at a rate not to exceed the pulse rate. If a
holiday or thin spot in the coating is detected, a spark will jump from the electrode through the air
space to the metal.