Top 10 Cleaning and Inspection Challenges: No.10


Hot Convection Section Cleaning

Based on an extensive survey of 500 refinery operators, hot convection section cleaning ranks tenth among the most prevalent cleaning challenges. In this in-depth discussion, we will explore the issues around convection section fouling and solutions to restore efficiency without taking the heater offline.

Online cleaning of the convection section in a furnace is often necessary to maintaining the efficiency and reliability of the equipment.

Convection Section Cleaning Challenges

  1. Efficiency Maintenance

The accumulation of fouling, ash, or scale on the heat transfer surfaces in the convection section can reduce the efficiency of the furnace.

  1. Efficiency Decline Over Time

Continuous operation of a furnace can lead to the gradual build-up of deposits on tubes and surfaces.

  1. Energy Savings

A clean convection section allows for better heat transfer, meaning that less fuel is needed to achieve the desired temperature.

  1. Overheating

Fouling on heat transfer surfaces can insulate the tubes, preventing effective heat exchange and potentially leading to overheating.

  1. Minimizing Emissions

Efficient combustion and heat transfer contribute to lower emissions. By keeping the convection section clean, the furnace is more likely to comply with environmental regulations and emission standards.

  1. Reduced Downtime

Online cleaning minimizes the need for scheduled shutdowns for manual cleaning or maintenance, reducing downtime and maximizing the furnace’s availability for production.

  1. Safety

A well-maintained furnace is safer to operate. Clean heat transfer surfaces reduce the risk of overheating, which can lead to unsafe conditions or equipment failure.


Hot-tek Hot Convection Cleaning  process removes convection section tube fouling and scale during furnace operation. The tube cleaning process uses consumable abrasive media projected through specially designed application lances to blast away build-ups, while the heater is in service.

In some applications we use Cetek’s Lancescope™ system to see hard to reach areas. In addition, safe access ports can be created to facilitate the hot convection section cleaning process and for future access. Our online convection tube cleaning is efficient, environmentally friendly, and safe for the removal of years of fouling and scale without interruption to production.

Typical results, include:

  • Increased heat transfer efficiency in convection section
  • Increased steam production
  • Increased process pre-heat
  • Lower stack temperatures

Find out how online convection cleaning increased throughput by 3.5% at a petrochemical company: READ CASE STUDY