If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which side of a gasket needs to face up? Ok, maybe a gasket having sides isn’t one of the great hypothetical questions of our time, but have you ever really thought about it? Believe it or not, there are instances where it matters. Whether you have spent any time debating this with others or not, here are a few things that you need to know.
This Side Up
Here’s how to know if your gasket has a “this side up”.
1. Fitment and Alignment
Some gaskets are nearly identical on both sides, but often there is a slight alignment issue either for the bolt holes or ports. Be sure to have the proper side so it assembles properly.
Some gaskets are directional, meaning they only go one way. This can be for heat purposes. For example, our single-sided Armor material is designed to go with the hot side against the head surface and the soft side against the irregular surface of the manifold/header.
Sometimes gaskets are coated to aid in their performance. It is possible to apply an anti-stick coating to only one side to aid in removal. Similarly, some gaskets will have a PSA (pressure-sensitive-adhesive) applied for assembly. This also must be applied to the proper side.
What Happens If I’m Wrong?
Well, the good news is that not all gasket designs require a specific side to be up. If you use a gasket where it does matter, and you get it wrong, you’ll definitely know it. Some of the issues you may see include leaking due to port alignment, crush due to bolting issues, sticking if the coating is on the wrong side, etc.
If you flip the gasket over and still see issues, you may have a problem with the joint or the gasket material being used. Talk with your trusted gasket material supplier. They may be able to provide some insight into the problems that you are encountering to help with your troubleshooting.