Hydraulic flange spreaders help you repair and modify equipment that would otherwise be too difficult to access. The tools, which look like giant needlenose pliers with a cord running out of them, can open up tight spaces by using tremendous force. However, not all flange spreaders are the same. One of the main differences is whether or not the flange spreader has serrated feet. The feet are the two flanges that sit in the space that needs to be expanded; the serration is on the outside so that it grips the surfaces the spreader is forcing open. Without serrated feet, you're taking some unnecessary risks.
Stability Through Friction
The serrated feet act as friction-based anchors that keep the flanges in place. Without the serration, the flanges could slip, letting the surfaces slam together. That's dangerous if you've got your hands in that space to work on something. The flanges are more stable, too; they aren't going to wobble or shift. Flange spreaders are rated to pry apart a certain amount of force, and if you're trying to pry apart something that's at the upper end of a flange spreader's range, those surfaces could exert too much force and make the flange spreader pop out. This is also extremely dangerous.
When you don't have to worry about readjusting or re-checking the flange spreaders, your work can go a lot faster. You have confidence in the flange spreaders and know that you can just get your work done. Without serrated feet, you have to constantly keep an eye on the spreaders. Flange spreaders that don't have serrated feet are fine in certain circumstances, such as when you have to pry apart something that's exerting less force. But when you need a really strong, stable opening, serrated feet are much better.
You Still Need Safety Gear
Note that you can't avoid wearing safety gear even if the flange spreaders have serrated feet. Gloves, goggles, and additional gear are necessary when working around heavy equipment. While the spreaders might be more stable, there is always that tiny risk that something could go wrong. So if you were hoping that the serrated feet would allow you to remove gloves, for example, they don't.
You can find flange spreaders in several sizes, and it's best if you contact a manufacturer or seller like SMP Specialty Maintenance Products to discuss the load that each spreader can handle. With the right ones, you'll find your work going much more smoothly.