Steam is an efficient and easily controlled method of heat transfer. It is most often used for moving energy from a central location, such as a boiler, to other areas of a facility where heat is needed. Steam traps are an important part of this system. These components hold back live steam in the pipes while removing condensate, air, and other incondensable gases at the same time.
Eventually, all steam traps will fail, and when they do, live steam can be wasted and energy lost. And potentially significant amounts of money, as even one major leak can cost thousands of dollars a year.
Improving your steam system
Steam-trap management is an important part of any maintenance program. Focus on Energy recommends that all facilities create a steam-trap management program that includes:
- Staff training—on entire boiler systems, not just steam traps
- Identification and inventory of all steam traps
- Trap inspection and testing procedures—including writing a standard operating procedure (SOP)
- Trap correction processes—included in the SOP
- A trap database and reporting tool to track the status of all steam traps
It's also important to:
- Reduce system leaks by repairing leaks in steam piping, condensate return lines and fittings
- Add insulation to reduce heat loss
- Tune up boilers annually
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