steam trap testing blog

Why do you test steam traps?

Steam trap maintenance is a prerequisite to improving steam traps in your facility in general.  Maintenance programs incorporate routine steam trap testing.  Testing your steam traps is important so you know what’s going on in your plant, and the condition of the steam traps.

Wondering how often should steam traps be inspected? Regular maintenance on steam traps should be performed, including inspecting stream traps every 3 months.

How do you test steam traps?

There are 4 steam trap testing methods:

  1. Visual Inspection
  2. This testing method is a good method to determine where a trap has failed, closed or blocked.  It will show leaking traps, however it’s difficult to measure the size of the leak.

  3. Temperature Steam Trap Testing
  4. Steam trap testing using the Temperature Method will find blocked traps and closed traps, but also poses difficulty to track the size of leak. Additionally, the temperature method should only be used in conjunction with ultrasonic testing methods or equipment.

  5. Ultrasonic Steam Trap Testing
  6. Ultrasonic testing can detect small to large leaks and detect when traps failed closed or failed open. If a steam trap fails open, Ultrasonic Steam Trap Testing can also show how much steam is passing through it. However, it misses the ability to calculate financial losses.

  7. Software Based Ultrasonic Testing
  8. Software based Ultrasonic testing is the “cream of the crop” of testing methods.  This method can pick up small to large leaks, failed closed, and failed open traps, and the matching software can reliably calculate steam loss by pounds per hour and dollar value. The software-based test gives you unmatched results compared to other testing methods  

Steam Trap Testing & Inspection Checklist

A steam trap inspection checks temperature, pressure, condensation and proper equipment operation.  With steam trap inspections it’s helpful to follow testing surveys to identify steam trap failures.

Demo Steam Trap Survey

Below is an example of an Ultrasonic Steam Trap Survey performed with matching software. Lines highlighted in dark red show larger leaks, versus lines highlighted in light red which show smaller leaks. Nonetheless, a steam trap survey will help you find steam trap failures, and with the right tools – the cost of losing steam. Download the full survey 

dss peerless steam trap survey example

Steam trap attributes and testing values:

  • Steam trap location
  • Type of steam trap
  • Model name
  • Manufacturer
  • Inputs:
    • Inlet pressure at trap
    • Size of trap
    • Steam cost
  • Operation values (operation hours, days)
  • Readings from ultrasonic tester (steam loss)

Once you put in this data in the compatible ultrasonic testing software, the results you get from the software tells you if a steam trap is leaking, and how many pounds per hour it’s leaking steam.

In this example, the cost of loss of steam is $10/1,000lbs. The survey shows that one blowing steam trap in the steam system leaked at least 355,906 lbs of steam, which is a loss of $3,550 of steam per year.  The complete survey shows a steam loss of 5,248,992 lbs of steam, for a total cost of $52,490. 

The steam survey is done for every trap in the plant, and an accurate reading can tell you how much steam is being lost in pounds per hour and cost of leaking steam in total. The results also show CO2 emissions.

What are the benefits of steam trap maintenance programs?

Maintenance plans and regular steam trap inspections can greatly reduce maintenance costs and energy consumption. By understanding the total cost of ownership of your steam traps, you can make cost-effective decisions that will foster rapid scalability in your facility and increase ROI. This allows continuous improvement in an organization while maintaining the highest safety standards for your organization and staff.

Are you looking for solutions to failed or old mechanical steam traps? We have more training resources introducing Venturi Style steam traps and the transformation in efficiency and effectiveness they bring to an organization.

Interested in a demo and complimentary steam trap survey?