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Steam Trap FAQ

How often should I have my steam traps tested?

Most experts agree that a steam trap survey should be performed at least once a year.

How long do steam traps last?

Generally, steam traps can last for years if they are properly sized, applied and maintained.

If I contract with Enercheck Services to have an audit performed, do I have to provide plant personnel?

Yes. It is critical that someone guide our auditor around your plant. They can provide the information we need to document the steam trap or leak location. If we can identify the leak location, our repair personnel will be able to find what may be problem steam traps or leaks more easily. Additionally, during the course of the audit we may find issues that need to be addressed immediately. Having a good plant maintenance individual accompany us throughout the auditing process is invaluable to our shared goal of minimizing wasted energy.

How often should I have my air/gas system tested for leaks?

It is wise to have the system tested on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. Inert gases are extremely expensive and can create copious revenue waste when they are not kept in check. Compressed air leakage can significantly add to your electrical consumption costs.

How do you mark bad traps or air/gas leaks?

Systems should be tested on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. Inert gases are extremely expensive. Compressed air leakage can significantly add to your electrical consumption costs.

How do you mark bad traps or air/gas leaks?

Steam traps are tagged with a stainless steel number tag and heart-shaped stainless steel hanger. If the trap is found faulty an orange plastic strip is placed behind of the number tag. Your personnel should remove the orange strip after repairs are made. The number tag should remain with the newly installed trap.

Air/gas leaks can be numbered with a stainless steel tag if desired. We normally tie an orange strip at the leak site with a piece of wire.

Steam Trap News

Why do steam traps fail?
Steam Trap Survey & Design

Steam traps are devices used to discharge condensate and non-condensable gases from a facility. Unfortunately, like any other piece of mechanical equipment, failure can occur. When steam traps fail, the resulting steam loss can lead to excess energy consumption, affecting process operations and potentially reducing profits.

Steam traps and steam systems typically represent a substantial portion of a manufacturing plant's total operating costs. Many manufacturing plants, however, do not have a steam trap management program that includes annual testing and repair services in the event of failure. Without a program to minimize failure steam loss, these facilities run the risk of incurring significant and unnecessary costs. Knowing where failures exist and what actions to take requires an accurate diagnosis of each steam trap in your facility.

As part of our commitment to provide a comprehensive energy solution, Platinum Energy Group offers steam trap survey and design services to help you both identify and address any potential leaks in your steam system.

Platinum Energy Group's steam trap survey technicians will conduct a comprehensive study of your facility, employing the latest in state-of-the-art ultrasonic equipment and software (SteamWorks Pro by Conserv-it Software).

Each trap's number, location, application, size, manufacturer and model number is logged in. Specific problems such as water hammer, improper sizing of condensate return systems, misapplied steam trap types and poorly designed piping configurations are also noted.

Following a thorough documentation, each trap is ultrasonically tested for performance. After the ultrasonic test is completed, infrared temperature readings are taken at the inlet and outlet of the trap. This information allows our technicians to provide the most effective solution.

By taking these simple proactive steps to ensure optimal performance of your steam trap system will result in improved performance over the long term and eliminate unnecessary costs.

With Platinum Energy Group's steam trap surveys and design, it's easy being Green.

Ultra sound

The best human ears can hear frequencies in the range of 20 hertz to about 20,000 hertz (20kHz). Ultrasonic instruments are sensitive to frequencies beyond the limits of normal human hearing as high as 100 kHz.

Platinum Energy Group utilizes ultrasound to "hear" faults in electric transmission and distribution systems in operating machinery, as well as leaks in vacuum or pressurized systems.

Electrical systems, fluid and gas systems and working machinery all produce constant ultrasound patterns. Changes in the sonic signatures can be readily recognized as loose connections, faulty equipment, or wear in components. When an electrical disturbance occurs, the electricity ionizes air molecules which produce a distinct, detectable ultrasound signal.

An ultrasonic detector senses subtle changes in the ultrasonic signature of a component and pinpoints potential sources of failure before they can cause costly damage. While longer wavelengths of lower pitched sounds can easily penetrate solid materials and can be heard without special equipment, higher frequency sounds will slip through the tiniest of openings. Ultrasound detectors are ideal for isolating leaks.

Many of today's lightweight ultrasonic tools are battery-powered so technicians can easily move about while operating them. Some instruments feature a frequency adjust dial to provide tuning capability, allowing our technicians to hear the ultrasounds through headphones and gauge their intensity by the definitions registered on an analog meter. An ultrasonic detector equipped with a parabolic reflector can pinpoint problem areas such as electrical disturbances at distances of up to 300 feet.

Steam Loss Chart

Energy loss due to blowing traps in the system can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line. The chart below is based on a steam cost of $ 8.00/1,000 lbs. of steam produced.

5 PSI 15 PSI 30 PSI 50 PSI 75 PSI 100 PSI 125 PSI
.03 130.66 197.74 296.62 431.32 594.56 62.44 928.33
.125 520.24 790.98 1,186.46 1725.27 2,378.23 3,049.77 3,713.34
.25 2,080.96 4,745.85 3,163.90 6,901.13 9,512.94 12,199.07 14,855.30

To compute steam loss through an orifice:

24.24 x PSIA x (diameter of orifice in inches)

To convert psi to PSIA: add 14.7. Therefore, 100 PSI steam is 114.7 PSIA (absolute)

Example: Compute steam loss through a 1/8" orifice at 100 PSI steam?

24.24 x 114.7 x (.125 x .125) = 43.44

To estimate total cost of system-wide loss: Multiply the steam loss by hours of operation, steam cost (usually between $4.00 and $14.00 per 1,000 lbs.) and by the number of faulty traps.

Air/Gas Leak Audits

Following our survey, any leaks we discover are tagged and the location of each leak is noted and included in your report. An approximate dollar value is assigned to each leak to validate repairs to the system. A systematic program to repair the leaks should be implemented as soon as possible, preferably while the leak survey is being performed.

A leak survey usually identifies the most common leak areas:
  • traps and drains (liquid)
  • defunct equipment with air left on
  • hoses and disconnect plugs
  • pipe connections and valves
  • manual blow-down valves
  • filters, gaskets and seals

Compressed air leaks can be very costly. The charts below show typical costs associated with leaks of various sizes.

Leak Size Loss (CFD) Loss ($/Day) Loss ($/Year)
1/64" 576 0.18 66.00
1/32" 2,304 0.71 259.07
1/16" 9,288 2.00 1,051.00
1/8" 37,152 11.52 4,202.00
3/16" 83,952 26.03 9,496.00
Based on 100 psig, $0.31/mcf, 8760 hrs./yr.

Nitrogen leaks cost approximately 10 times more than compressed air leaks.Therefore, it is imperative that the N2 system be tested frequently. Below is a chart indicating the high cost of N2 leaks.

Leak Diameter N2 Loss (cfm) N2 Loss (cf/Day) Loss ($/Day) Loss ($/Month) Loss ($/Year)
1/64" .68 972 2.08 62.40 748.83
1/32" 2.40 3,456 7.40 221.88 2662.50
3/64" 5.49 7,905 16.92 507.54 6090.47
1/16" 9.68 13,932 29.81 894.43 10,733.21
3/32" 21.75 31,320 67.02 2,010.74 24,128.93
1/8" 38.70 55,728 119.26 3,577.74 42,932.85
3/16" 87.45 125,928 269.49 8,084.58 97,014.93
1/4" 154.50 222,480 476.11 14,283.22 171,398.59
5/16" 243.00 349,920 748.88 22,464.84 269,578.37
3/8" 351.00 505,440 1,081.64 32,449.25 389,390.98