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Understanding API 570 Piping Inspections

Learn about API 570, the inspection process, and how regular assessments can prevent failures and extend the life of piping systems.


Industrial facilities like refineries, chemical plants, and oil and gas operations rely on complex piping systems to safely transport liquids, gases, and slurries. But what happens when corrosion, cracking, or other damage threatens the integrity of those pipes? That's where API 570 comes in.

API 570 is a standard developed by the American Petroleum Institute, governing the inspection, repair, alteration, and rerating of in-service piping systems. The standard is designed to ensure that piping systems continue to operate safely and efficiently, minimizing the risk of leaks or catastrophic failures. It is applicable across various industries that rely on robust piping systems, including oil and gas, chemicals, and power plants.

Why API 570 Inspections Matter

Compliance with API 570 helps companies avoid catastrophic piping failures from corrosion, cracks, leakage, or other degradation factors. It also satisfies legal regulations requiring periodic inspection of process piping.

Beyond meeting regulatory demands, API 570 provides other benefits:

  • Preventing leaks, ruptures, or fires/explosions caused by piping failures;
  • Optimizing maintenance and extending equipment lifetime;
  • Avoiding unplanned outages or limiting downtime after failures;
  • Protecting personnel from injury and facilities from damage.

In short, API 570 inspections provide the vital foundation for reliable, safer piping operations.

Inspection Intervals

Piping inspections are typically mandated by both regulatory authorities and internal corporate policies. The frequency of these inspections depends on several factors, including the age, condition, and function of the piping system, as well as the nature of the substances it transports.

API 570 does provide recommended inspection intervals based on the class of the piping circuit and the type of inspection. These classes are assigned based on risk potential, with Class 1 having the highest risk.

Here's a breakdown of the recommended intervals for the most common inspections:

  • Class 1: Requires Ultrasonic Thickness Measurements and Visual External Inspection at least every 5 years, or half of the piping's calculated remaining life, whichever is less.
  • Class 2: Needs Ultrasonic Thickness Measurements at least every 10 years, or half of the calculated remaining life, whichever is less frequent. It also requires Visual External Inspection at least every 5 years.
  • Class 3: Similar to Class 2, it requires Ultrasonic Thickness Measurements every 10 years (or half its life), but Visual External Inspection only needs to be done every 10 years.
  • Class 4: Inspections are considered optional for Class 4 circuits.

It's important to note that these are just recommendations. The actual inspection frequency should be reviewed and adjusted based on several factors, including:

  • The findings from previous inspections.
  • Any significant changes in operating conditions.
  • The type of deterioration the piping is susceptible to (e.g., general corrosion, pitting).
  • State and local requirements.
  • Judgment of the inspector or piping engineer.

How Inspections Are Performed

API 570 utilizes a combination of visual examinations, surface inspections, volumetric testing, and leak testing:

  • Visual inspections check for external corrosion, damaged supports/insulation, leaks, and more.
  • Surface inspections like magnetic particle testing detect external corrosion and surface cracking.
  • Volumetric inspections such as ultrasound and radiographic testing measure pipe wall thickness to identify internal corrosion and erosion.
  • Leak testing confirms piping will not leak during operation. This involves pressurizing the system and checking for pressure drops.

The methods chosen depend on piping material, access, budget, and downtime constraints.

Personnel Conducting Inspections

API 570 states inspectors must be qualified personnel certified as API 570 piping inspectors. Third-party inspection agencies can be hired to provide these services. Using competent, impartial inspectors ensures issues are caught early.

Proper Documentation

API 570 requires essential documentation like inspection plans, reports for each inspection, records of physical repairs, alterations, rerates, and more. Maintaining accurate records is vital for regulatory compliance.

How to Prepare for an API 570 Inspection

Preparation is key to effective API 570 inspections:

  • Ensure that all necessary documentation and records are available.
  • Perform routine maintenance and cleaning to ensure pipes are accessible and identifiable.
  • Coordinate with inspection teams to ensure a smooth process.

Choosing the Right API 570 Inspection Services

Selecting the right service provider is critical. Look for providers with:

  • Extensive experience in your industry.
  • A track record of reliable and thorough inspections.
  • Appropriate certifications and qualifications.

The Bottom Line

API 570 provides an important framework for inspecting piping systems and helping prevent disastrous failures. While compliance involves effort and costs, the payoff is substantial by avoiding accidents, unplanned downtime, regulatory fines, and expensive repairs. For companies with extensive piping networks, rigorous adherence to API 570 is an indispensable safety practice.


-- Genesis Environmental Solutions provides API 570 Piping Inspections throughout Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. We also provide AST services for all types of tanks, including fuel oil tanks. All work is carefully documented and compliant with federal, state and local regulations. Contact us today for more information.

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