Refractory materials do have limited lifespans—they eventually begin to degrade and lose their efficiency. However, if refractory issues arise well before the expected lifetime of the material, that’s due to problems with material, design, and/or installation.
Common Refractory Issues
This is the loss of fragments (“spalls”) from the face of a refractory. It occurs when there is an excessive buildup of steam within the refractory material as it is heated, causing a sudden and severe explosion. This is due to an excess of water within the material, usually caused by irregular drying of the refractory material or by sub-optimal environmental conditions during installation.
Surface or Internal Cracks
These cracks emerge after repeated cycles and operational influences such as heat stress, geometry, expansion and contraction of the refractory material, and changes in volume.
Surface Ware / Erosion
This is the loss/destruction of particles at the surface/hot face of the refractory material where it meets the slag (by-product) of the material being smelted. The wear/erosion results from the interaction of the refractory material with the particles and chemicals of the slag for extended periods at operating temperatures.