How to Make Sure that a Steam Trap Will Not Break Down On Your Watch

Steam traps are vital parts in a number of industrial applications. However, taking care of them is a delicate process in itself, as stated by Bruce Gorelick and Alan Bandes’ article for Plant Engineering magazine:

Properly functioning steam traps open to release condensate and automatically close when steam is present. Failed traps waste fuel, reduce efficiency, increase production costs and compromise the overall integrity of the steam and condensate systems. Traps should be tested regularly, or the neglect may be quite costly.

Steam energy conservation is important to our national interest. Consider these statistics from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy:

More than 45% of all the fuel burned by U.S. manufacturers is consumed to raise steam. Steam is used to heat raw materials and treat semi-finished products. It is also a power source for equipment, building heat and electricity generation. But steam is not free. It costs approximately $18 billion annually to feed the boilers generating steam.

The potential for energy wastage, as noted in the article, is too visible for plant managers to ignore. At a time when fuel and other related environmental concerns are affecting the global economy, managing finite power resources and finding ways to reuse them takes a higher priority. Where an effective steam trap fits into the equation and how to maintain or replace them is a question that reputable suppliers like ALB Industrial Supplies Inc can help you answer.

There are numerous signs that a steam trap in play is performing less than desired. The article states that a rise in condensate backpressure may result in the condensate pumps to “self-destruct” because of excess capacity. The condensate piping itself can deteriorate because the steam traps linked to them are not well-maintained at full or partial-open settings. Closed traps that also malfunction raise the odds of carbonic acid buildup, which is corrosive. Dirt accumulation carries a host of issues, too, such as a leaky or blocked trap.

To replace any damaged traps, your plant team will have to audit the entire system and perform a trap survey. Advanced testing equipment will be needed to determine the scope of the problem. The data gathered during the evaluation can give a company like ALB Industrial educated strategies on how your problems may be solved. Replacing a whole batch of steam traps may be necessary if your plant will function better with new ones.

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(Article Excerpt from Preventing steam trap failures, Plant Engineering)

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