Common Failure Modes of Pressure Transducers

Pressure Vessel Fabrications

What are the failure modes of pressure transducers?

Pressure transducers, also known as pressure sensors or pressure transmitters, convert pressure into an analog or digital electrical signal. Like other electronic components, pressure transducers can experience a variety of failure modes. Understanding these failure modes can be crucial for ensuring accurate measurements and overall system safety. Here are the common failure modes of pressure transducers:

  • Mechanical Damage:

    • Cause: External physical impact, over-pressurization beyond the sensor’s rated capacity, or improper installation.
    • Effect: Deformation of the sensing element or diaphragm, leading to incorrect or no output.
  • Drift:

    • Cause: Long-term use, temperature fluctuations, or inherent instability in the sensing element.
    • Effect: Slow change in the sensor’s output even when the pressure remains constant, leading to inaccurate readings.
  • Zero Shift:

    • Cause: Mechanical stress, temperature variations, or electronic component aging.
    • Effect: Output signal deviation when no pressure is applied, requiring recalibration.
  • Span Shift:

    • Cause: Changes in the sensor’s sensitivity due to aging, temperature effects, or component degradation.
    • Effect: Altered output range for the sensor, affecting measurement accuracy.
  • Non-linearity:

    • Cause: Imperfections in the sensing element or its associated electronics.
    • Effect: Output signal doesn’t vary linearly with pressure changes, causing errors in readings at specific pressure ranges.
  • Thermal Effects:

    • Cause: Exposure to temperatures outside the transducer’s specified range or rapid temperature fluctuations.
    • Effect: Changes in the output signal not due to pressure changes but rather temperature variations.
  • Electrical Failures:

    • Cause: Short circuits, open circuits, or issues with the transducer’s internal electronics.
    • Effect: Incorrect or no output signal, intermittent signal disruptions.
  • Chemical or Corrosive Damage:

    • Cause: Exposure to aggressive or incompatible media.
    • Effect: Degradation of the diaphragm or sensing element, leading to output signal anomalies or complete failure.
  • Cavitation or Vaporization:

    • Cause: Rapid pressure fluctuations, especially in liquid systems.
    • Effect: Formation of vapor pockets that can damage the sensor mechanically or interfere with its readings.
  • Hysteresis:

  • Cause: Inherent material properties of the sensing element.
  • Effect: Output variation based on whether the pressure is increasing or decreasing, leading to different readings for the same pressure level depending on the direction of pressure change.
  • Contamination:

  • Cause: Introduction of foreign particles or fluids into the sensor.
  • Effect: Blockage or altered readings due to interference with the sensing element.
  • Vibration and Shock Effects:

  • Cause: Mechanical vibrations from machinery or shock from sudden impacts.
  • Effect: Sensor accuracy can be compromised, or the sensor can be damaged, especially if it’s not designed to withstand such conditions.
  • EMI/RFI Interference:

  • Cause: Electromagnetic or radio frequency interference from nearby devices or equipment.
  • Effect: Erroneous readings or signal disturbances due to induced voltages or currents.
  • Seal Failures:

  • Cause: Aging, poor quality materials, or exposure to incompatible fluids or gases.
  • Effect: Leaks that can introduce contaminants or compromise the internal electronics of the transducer.
  • Output Saturation:

  • Cause: Exposure to pressures beyond the maximum rated capacity or electronic anomalies.
  • Effect: Sensor outputs its maximum or minimum signal regardless of the actual pressure.
  • Aging Effects:

  • Cause: Degradation of components and materials over time.
  • Effect: Reduced responsiveness, increased drift, or complete sensor failure.
  • Power Supply Issues:

  • Cause: Inadequate power, electrical noise, or power supply fluctuations.
  • Effect: Incorrect readings, intermittent operation, or potential damage to the sensor’s electronics.
  • Connector and Wiring Problems:

  • Cause: Physical damage, corrosion, loose connections, or degraded insulation.
  • Effect: Intermittent readings, signal loss, or short circuits.
  • Calibration Errors:

  • Cause: Use of incorrect calibration standards, procedures, or environmental conditions.
  • Effect: Systematic errors in pressure readings, leading to potentially unsafe or inefficient operations.
  • Mounting and Installation Issues:

  • Cause: Incorrect mounting orientation, use of inadequate fixtures, or improper installation procedures.
  • Effect: Measurement errors due to the influence of gravity on the sensing element or mechanical stresses.

Regular monitoring, periodic calibration, and preventive maintenance play a crucial role in ensuring the reliable and accurate performance of pressure transducers. Users should also be aware of the specific conditions and requirements of their application to select the most suitable transducer type and to understand its limitations. Additionally, when anomalies or erratic behaviors are observed, it’s advisable to consult with the manufacturer or a qualified technician, as continued use of a malfunctioning transducer not only risks inaccurate readings but can also pose safety hazards in pressure-critical applications.


In the realm of industrial solutions, Red River emerges as a pioneer, offering a diverse range of custom-engineered products and facilities. Among our specialties is the design and production of Custom/OEM Pressure Vessels, meticulously crafted to meet individual client requirements, ensuring performance under various pressure conditions. Our expertise extends to the domain of prefabrication, where Red River leads with distinction.

The company excels in creating prefabricated facilities, modules, and packages, reinforcing its stance as a forerunner in innovation and quality. This proficiency is further mirrored in their Modular Skids offering, where they provide an array of Modular Fabricated Skid Packages and Packaged equipment. Each piece is tailored to client specifications, underlining their commitment to delivering precision and excellence in every project they undertake.

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