Steam Trap Survey including Steam Trap Testing


What are steam traps and why is inspecting them important?

Steam traps separate the steam system from the condensate system. Steam traps are mechanical devices that can fail in the open or closed position. When a steam trap fails in the open position, the energy that was added at the boiler is lost into the condensate return system. The energy contained in steam is only utilized when it condenses in a heat exchanger and releases its latent heat to the intended process. It is at this point the steam trap should allow this condensate into the condensate return system. A steam trap that fails in the closed position does not allow the condensate to enter the condensate return system. This condensate will sub cool (cool below saturation temperature) in the steam line or heat exchanger and form carbonic acid which will attack the piping and its components, however, there is not an energy loss associated with steam traps failed in the closed position. Routine steam trap surveys are required to identify the faulty steam traps for repair or replacement.

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While this concept is simple, identifying faulty steam traps is not. Our engineering team has extensive experience with testing steam traps. All our associates have a minimum of 15 year’s field experience! Furthermore, our experience with evaluating all aspects of steam generation, distribution and condensate systems proves to be invaluable when determining if steam traps are operating correctly.

Proficient Technologies utilizes a combination of temperature measurement (infrared camera), ultrasonic inspection and visual inspection to test and evaluate steam traps. All steam systems are dynamic and unique to some degree.  No two mechanical rooms, never mind steam systems, are going to be the same.  Our trained professionals evaluate the steam system in the mechanical room (and/or building) as a whole and take this information into account when evaluating each steam trap. What our trained surveyor would be looking for prior to starting trap testing would include:

  • What are the trap applications & proximity to one another?
  • What is in service?
  • What are the anticipated condensate loads of each application?
    • A typical ¾” F&T steam trap has a capacity of 1,075 lbs of condensate per hour @ 15 psi.  What is really present, based on the application, could be anywhere from 1 to 500 lbs per hour!  Temperatures, and particularly, ultrasonic sound generated, will vary and change
      with different condensate loads. This frequently leads to a misdiagnosis of a leaking steam trap.
  • Size of condensate return system, pipe diameters and lengths, and what to expect based on the cumulative loads of all traps in the area.
  • Visual Trap Inspection: The best way to “test” a steam trap is to visually observe its discharge.  This can be done in certain installations where the condensate is not being returned or when the appropriate valves or test “tees” are installed.  Similar observations can be made at a vented condensate receiver in a mechanical room.

We stand behind our steam trap survey results with optional measurement and verification reporting. Steam traps that we identified as faulty are documented with digital and infrared photographs. While IR images can’t be solely relied on to identify a steam trap as leaking by or failed open, a photo of the trap after it has been repaired or replaced will show definitive proof of the prior heat source in the condensate system being reduced.

Testing steam traps is not easy, and we have found that many “professionals” struggle to properly evaluate a tricky application.  Labor and materials for repairs is costly therefore it is imperative the steam trap survey is of highest quality to insure post repair energy savings. There really is no substitute for experience.  Proficient Technologies’ has been performing steam trap surveys routinely since 1996.

With confidence in the results the labor and material to make the repairs are easily justified. Proficient Technologies provides several convenient options to accomplish this. We can:

  • Provide a Bill of Material with instructions on what must be done at each faulty trap location and act as technical support for your personnel or contractor.
  • Provide a turnkey solution and perform the repairs or replacements for you.
    • We don’t have any exclusive agreements so we can use steam traps produced by the manufacturer of your choice

Give us a call at 843-681-5157 so we can discuss your facility and steam trap survey objectives and goals!