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Different Test Plugs: How Do They Perform?

Test Plugs

It’s one thing to tell you how good or bad different test plugs are, but it’s another to actually demonstrate it in action.Different Test Plugs

We thought it would be neat to run a few experiments and show you through some hydrotests how different test plugs perform against each other under different pressures.

This way, you’ll have a good idea of what’s available to you, what you can expect from different plugs, and what plug you might want to use for your next hydrotest.


A total of 5 test plugs are used during these series of tests, and we’re measuring three categories.

1. How long do these plugs take to set up?
2. How fast can they accomplish a hydro test on the desired test pressure?
3. And is the plug actually performing as it’s supposed to?

The two criteria we follow for each tool includes a max of 4 attempts to get up to pressure, and a max time of one hour to complete the test.


Test Series #1

The first series of tests is on a 6” schedule standard pipe with 300 lb flanges, and we tested those to a maximum design pressure of 500 psi.

For this setup we tested 4 different test plugs tools. The Carber tool, High-Lift tool by Curtiss-Wright, the MR plug from Innovator, and the Innovator dual tool.

Unfortunately, the Carber test tool came with a faulty hose, so we weren’t able to get a proper result out of it. We’re not sure if the tool would have hit the proper pressure in this scenario.

Below are the results.

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While the High-Lift tool got the job done, it took over 20 minutes longer to complete than the other two options.

The MR Plug wins this test with a time of 10 minutes and 45 seconds, with a very quick pressurizing time.


Test Series #2

In the second series of tests, we did a 6” schedule 80 pipe with 600 lb flanges and a maximum design test pressure of 1500 psi.

We used 3 tools: the Carber, the High-Lift, and Innovator’s Internal Weld Test(IWT) tool.

Both the Carber and the High-Lift were unable to complete their tests. The Carber was only able to reach 700 PSI within the the one hour.

The High-Lift was only able to hit 500 PSI after 4 attempts to get it up to pressure. This was deemed a failure at this point.

[table id=2 /]

The Innovator IWT tool accomplished the pressure in a very quick time, taking less than 8 minutes to setup and get up to pressure.


Test Series #3

The final series of tests was on extra extra strong 6” pipe with 1500 lb flanges, and two tools were used to perform the tests, the Carber and the IWT.

The Carber plug has a loose O-ring material that the operator needs to cut and glue to make the seal work, which slowed down setup and added potential for human error.

The IWT tool is self energizing, meaning that the seals react to the hydrostatic pressure to add more rubber pressure, making the tool perform as the pressure goes up.

The IWT easily reached 2500 PSI on the first attempt. We then decided to do a second test to 3500PSI, which also was a success.

[table id=3 /]


Based on these tests at these different pressures, in terms of time and the ability to accomplish the test, the rankings are as follows.

1. Innovator IWT – best in terms of time and pressure
2. Innovator MR – Equal in performance to dual tool, but was 30 seconds faster
3. Innovator Dual Tool – Successful, but 30 seconds longer than MR
4. High Lift – Successful at low pressures but took quite a bit of time, failed the higher pressure test
5. Carber – failed in 2 of its three categories to hold a seal of any significance, didn’t reach desired pressures on any of these tests

To see these experiments in action, check out the series of bite-sized videos here: Plug Testing Video



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