A loose screw or bolt seems like a fairly minor problem in many cases, mostly because it’s usually an easy thing to fix. You can simply grab a screwdriver, pliers, or a wrench and tighten the assembly securely in place. But what happens when such an issue occurs in a place that’s hard to see or reach? What happens when the problem keeps occurring due to other factors that affect the installation?
Loose fastener assemblies and the task of addressing them can cost businesses thousands of dollars a year, especially if they cause or indicate more serious issues to remedy. This is why you should know how to identify and prevent problems with loose fastener assemblies.
Get Better Spacing Components
Sometimes it’s easy to tell when a fastener assembly isn’t properly installed. A rattling, tremor and wobbling are clear indicators that an adjustment is needed. It may be as simple as tightening the assembly manually or replacing a spacing component to ensure better tension.
For fastener assemblies that cannot be fully replaced or removed from the installation, a c-shaped or slotted spacer can be fitted around the neck of a bolt or screw without full disassembly. You can readily get such components from a trusted manufacturer like Superior Washer & Gasket, which offers slotted washers available for immediate delivery.
Evaluate The Environment
If the fastener assembly is regularly exposed to factors like vibration, fluctuations in humidity and temperature, and corrosive circumstances, the integrity of that assembly can easily become compromised. In the case of vibration, there are isolation and damping products that can reduce the effects of frequency and tremor. Such forces can gradually loosen assemblies over time. A spring, wave, or cushioning washer—like one made from fiber or Neoprene, can also help retain tension when fasteners are subjected to vibration.
If moisture, temperature or corrosion is impacting an assembly, then you may need to reevaluate the material from which your fasteners are made. There are a number of metal and nonmetal materials and coatings that reliably resist extreme temperatures, exposure to moisture, and corrosion. Sometimes conventional fastener materials like steel can expand and contract with temperature, and that can affect the security of an assembly.
Since a loose fastener assembly can be difficult to identify until a more serious problem occurs, it’s wise to perform regular inspections. If an assembly is difficult to reach or assess up close, completing such checks is easier said than done. Fortunately, there are resources that can help.
Use A Torque Seal Or Marker
Fastener markers or torque seal paints refer to substances that are similar to glue. The marker or paint is meant to be applied to an assembly as a liquid, usually as a thin line across the length of the screw or bolt and the nut. The marker then hardens into a seal. Tampering or loosening then becomes apparent if the seal is broken. Since the markers are available in light and bright colors, it’s easy to check on the integrity of an assembly even from a distance.
These and other integrity assurance measures can save a lot of time, cost, and trouble caused by a loose fastener assembly. They’re well worth taking to ensure a reliable and long lasting installation for all manner of structures and equipment.