Common Pressure Transducer Problems — and How to Identify Them
If you have equipment that relies on a pressure transducer to deliver real-time readings about pressure exertion, you know how important these components are. For strain gauge transducers in particular, accurate readings are paramount — and ensuring accurate readings means recognizing faults and problems as they develop.
Whether you’re using a millivolt, voltage, or 4-20mA output transducer, problems typically manifest the same way. Here’s a look at common pressure transducer problems, how to identify them, and how to prevent them from recurring.
Most common pressure transducer problems
Transducers are delicate instruments that are prone to developing issues due to wear, age, and a number of environmental factors. Fortunately, many common transducer problems are easy to identify. Transducers often suffer interference from nearby unshielded electrical cables, which can affect calibration. Electrical components can also succumb to environmental factors, such as moisture penetration of the case. Here are some common issues to watch for:
- Damaged wiring or short circuits
- Inadequate or failing power supply
- Reverse polarity or noise
- Loose connections
- Multiple grounds
- Bad interface board
Signs of a bad pressure transducer
The signs of a bad transducer are typically easy to identify. Fluctuations in static characteristics or accuracy readings are major causes for concern. Significant changes could indicate problems with the sensor, and most experts recommend having sensors replaced rather than repaired. This could leave the transducer out of commission for a while. Here are some common signs of a sensor fault:
- Pressure port leaks
- Decaying output signal
- Sudden signal changes
- Complete loss of signal
- Fixed output signal
- Changes in reading accuracy
Preventing future transducer issues
Prevention is the best policy for transducer issues. Problems are often caused by electrical interference, so installing proper electrical shielding is a significant preventive action. Potential sources of interference include nearby power lines, junctions, and lead lines.
Install any machinery that could cause interference away from transducers. The pressure transducer manufacturer can provide the best advice for preventing electrical overloads and other common problems. Other prevention methods include:
- Avoiding excessive temperatures
- Protecting against voltage spikes
- Shielding against EMI/RFI noise
- Safeguarding against shocks and vibration
- Avoiding overpressure situations
Repair is often more effective than replacement
Some transducer issues may require the replacement of one or more components, but with the exception of faulty sensors, it’s usually more cost efficient and timely to opt for repair over replacement. It is also vital to keep up with maintenance. Checking the transducer on a routine basis will make it easy to identify small issues — such as calibration irregularities — before they become large problems.
Transducer issues must be diagnosed and repaired as soon as possible to avoid a litany of potential problems for manufacturers, including defective products and damaged equipment. A properly working transducer is a key component of quality control.