Plate & Frame
Heat Exchanger.

Plate & Frame Heat Exchangers provide exceptional and efficient heat transfer from one liquid to another, typically water to water or steam to liquid. Consisting of specially engineered corrugated metal plates assembled in a honeycomb pattern and tightened inside a frame between two pressure plates, one fixed and one adjustable. Each PHE is designed to provide optimal and enhanced performance to many applications and are available in a variety of configurations.

Advantages of a PHE

Plate & Frame

Small Footprint

Compact design, economical and requires less space than a shell & tube heat exchanger

Service Accessibility

Plates are removed easily for preventative maintenance, cleaning or replacement


Higher heat transfer from a greater fluid distribution over a larger surface area which rapidly increases the speed of the temperature changing

Fluid Compatibility

Variety of different plate alloys and gasket rubber or fibre compounds, to exactly match your fluid requirements

Versatile Design

Many different plate styles and patterns to match required applications.

Expandable Design

Plates can be easily added to increase the required heat transfer capability

Disdvantages of a PHE

  • Contamination
    Over time plates will build up with scale and debris
  • Replacement
    Gaskets tend to leak overtime, typically after 10-15 years replacements are required depending on the application
  • Application
    Not compatible for higher temperatures and pressures

Main Components of a PHE

Plate & Frame

Main Components of a Plate

Plate & Frame


Food & Beverage

(Breweries, Dairy, Fruit, Vegetable)
UHT Treatment
Reception Thermization
Wort Boiling


(Automotive, Mining, Pulp & Paper, Sugar)
Water Heating/Cooling
Heat Recovery
Quench Oil Cooling
Caustic Solution Heating


(Biofuels, Nuclear, Renewable Power, Oil & Gas)
Heat Recovery
Quench Coolers
Lubrication Oil Cooling
Corrosive Fluid Heating/Cooling
Crude Oil Heating
Diesel Engine Cooling
Auxiliary Cooling

Chemical & Pharmaceutical

(Fertilizers, Petrochemicals, Inorganic Chemicals)
Solvent Heating
Glycol Cooling
Reactor Cooling

Commercial HVAC

(Hospitals, Condominiums, Shopping Centers)
Domestic Water Heating
Swimming Pool Heating
Free Cooling
Cooling Tower Isolation
Heat Pump Systems
Heat Recovery
Thermal Storage Systems


(Container Vessels, Bulk Carriers, Barges)
Lube Oil Cooling
Auxiliary Power Generation System
Jacket Water Cooling
Central Cooling
Seawater Isolation Exchanger
Engine Oil Cooling
Ventilation Coolers and Heaters

When Should A Plate & Frame Heat Exchanger Be Serviced?

As a heat exchanger becomes fouled with dirt, debris or scale often the modulating valve provides additional hot or cold liquid to help compensate for the loss of efficiency of the heat exchanger.

Over time the control valve will continue to open fully. Unfortunately on the hottest or coldest days, even with the valve fully open the heat exchanger cannot meet the thermal transfer requirements and the situation becomes critical.

Monitoring just the operating temperature provides a false sense of security. Recording the difference in the outlet and inlet pressures provides a more accurate result of the amount of fouling.

Fouling equal to the thickness of a piece of paper represents a 20% loss of thermal efficiency. In addition, the energy cost for pumps increases since the pump must work harder to overcome the increased pressure resistance through the PHE.

Differential pressure average for a PHE equals 2-4 psi when equipped with new or refurbished plates;
Service should be scheduled when the differential pressure increases up to 7-10 psi.

Plate & Frame
Fouled Plates Requiring Service or Replacement

What Causes Plate & Frame Heat Exchangers To Leak Internally?

  • Higher pressure side will leak into the lower pressure side, if a plate develops a pin hole or crack;
  • Over time the plates can crack since they are continuously flexing, this is often referred to as a “pop can effect” - continually bending the can back and forth in the same area will break it apart;
  • Cross contamination is preventable when “double walled” designed plates are used with potable water.

*Municipal codes verify from region to region with most new construction by-laws requiring this safety measure

Plate & Frame
Damaged Plates

What Causes Plate & Frame Heat Exchangers To Leak Externally?

  • Rubber gaskets installed on each plate create a seal, when gaskets become worn or damaged
  • As the PHE ages the gaskets can dry out, lose their elasticity and become brittle
  • Operating temperatures, pressures and exposure to process fluids can all reduce the life of a gasket
  • Spiking or water hammer can force a gasket out of the plate groove
  • Overheating can melt the rubber and cause the gasket to become brittle and crack
  • Over tightening the groove the gasket sits in can become deformed. When this occurs the gasket will not sit flat and pushes outwards, (.4)mm thick gaskets are very susceptible to this issue
  • Plates not installed correctly in a honeycomb pattern

The life span of a gasket in a cooling application is 10-15 years and for a heating application 8-10 years. Gaskets exposed to steam will typically wear quicker than if exposed to boiler water. PHE’s used strictly for seasonal heating will often leak during the first month of startup and seal after a few weeks as the gaskets expand.

  • Plate & Frame

    Extruding Gasket

  • Plate & Frame

    Damaged Gaskets

  • Plate & Frame

    Damaged Gaskets

  • Plate & Frame

    Damaged Gaskets

  • Plate & Frame

    Misaligned Plates

  • Plate & Frame

    Crushed Plates from Overtightening

  • Plate & Frame

    Warped Plates and Extruding Gasket from Pressure Spike

  • Plate & Frame

    Warped Plates and Extruding Gasket from Pressure Spike

    When plates are installed correctly they will form a honeycomb pattern and if glue-less gaskets such as clip or ball are used, the tabs will be aligned.

    Plate & Frame
    Plate & Frame
    Plate & Frame
    Glue (No tabs)
    Plate & Frame
    Honeycomb Pattern
    Plate & Frame
    Plate & Frame
    Not Correct

    Gaskets are designed with venting ports; these ports prevent cross contamination inside the heat exchanger. When a gasket fails, the leak is detected on the outside of the plate pack

    • Plate & Frame

      Leaking PHE

    • Plate & Frame

      Leaking PHE

    • Plate & Frame

      Leaking PHE

    • Plate & Frame

      Gasket Ports


      1550 Bayly Street, Unit 15
      Pickering, ON L1W 3W1

      T 905 831-4963
      F 905 831-0042


      76 Harlowe Road, Unit 5, 6 & 7
      Hamilton, ON L8W 3R6

      T 905 318-0777
      F 905-318-8422

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