3 Quick Tips for Better Steam Trap Maintenance

Let’s face it: If you aren’t an expert on steam traps and other steam products, knowing how to conduct steam trap testing in order to keep your system working properly can seem pretty complicated. That being said, steam trap maintenance is incredibly important and just a little bit of maintenance work can go a long way in terms of energy efficiency and cost-savings. In fact, an old steam trap system that isn’t working efficiently can waste enough energy to cost you around $8,000 per year. If a system goes without any maintenance for three years, around 15% of the steam traps in the system stop working; after five years, that percentage jumps to 30%.

So, with that in mind, here are a few of the simplest — but most effective — ways to keep steam trap parts working properly:

  1. Remember that preventative measures are always more efficient and more affordable than reactive measures.
     The key pillar of steam trap maintenance is to catch possible problems before they happen, so it’s imperative to repair or replace individual parts as often as needed, even if it feels like a waste of money at the time. Low-pressure steam trap systems (below 30 psig) should be inspected at least once a year, while high-pressure systems (150 psig and above) should be inspected anywhere between once a week to once a month.
  2. Look at the steam
    This sounds simple, but it’s actually one of the best ways to determine if your system is working properly. you simply have to look at the steam coming out: “flash steam” is a lazy, pillowy type of steam that systems emit when they’re working properly, while “live steam” is a bit more sporadic and is a sign that the system has failed. If you have a relatively small steam trap system, this method of performance analysis may suffice for intermittent inspections, which you can do by yourself and without any equipment. More sophisticated systems will benefit from performance stations that also evaluate the sound and temperature of the system, which both require some extra equipment.
  3. Keep in mind that your system is unique
    There are many different types of steam traps, but the environment in which the system is placed can also have a big effect on how well it’s working. For example, if you’re located in an area where the seasons change dramatically in temperature and humidity, your system losses will fluctuate and may require extra attention during certain times

Of course, the most important thing when it comes to steam trap maintenance is to make sure that safety is your first priority! Some of the more advanced maintenance and testing methods may call for a certified professional, so don’t feel like you have to do everything on your own.

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