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Monitoring Your Way to Energy Savings: The Hidden Potential of Steam Traps


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Steam traps are a key component in many industrial systems. They are used to regulate the flow of steam through pipes and condensers. Despite their important role, they have been largely ignored by industry over the years because these valves have not been well understood or monitored.

This is starting to change as more companies realize how much money they can save by improving their steam trap maintenance plan: up to 10% or more when kept properly maintained!

What is a Steam Trap?

A steam trap is a device that allows steam to flow through it while preventing condensate from doing so. The purpose of a steam trap is to prevent the loss of money and energy through condensation, which would otherwise occur if the steam were allowed to escape into the atmosphere without being utilized by another process.

Steam traps are used in many different types of systems, including heating and cooling (HVAC), oil and gas production/refining/transmission/distribution, food processing plants and chemical processes.

There are many different types of steam traps, including: 

  1. Surface condensate traps (also known as “wet” traps) are used to collect condensate from a process. These traps can be located on the inlet or outlet side of the system. They work by drawing fluid into an opening that has been partially blocked off by a ball float or other device.
  2. Dew point traps are used in refrigeration systems to prevent the loss of energy by condensation. They work by removing water vapor from the system and preventing its return.
  3. Able to withstand high temperatures, a pressure relief valve (PRV) is used in systems that contain steam or other liquids at a high temperature and pressure. They are designed to open automatically when the internal pressure of the system reaches a certain point. 
  4. An ejector pump is used in conjunction with a surface condensate trap to remove water vapor from the air.

How do you know if your steam traps are working properly?

Steam traps are designed to remove condensate from the system, but they can also be used as an indicator of whether other problems exist. If you’re experiencing energy loss, check for the following signs:

  • Condensate in your steam trap. This is an easy one–if there’s water in your trap, it means that it isn’t working properly and needs repair or replacement.
  • Leaks on pipes or joints near your trap. If you see any signs of leakage around these areas (and especially if those leaks are dripping onto hot surfaces), then this could be another sign that something has gone wrong with your system and needs immediate attention before further damage occurs!

If you’re seeing lots of water in your steam trap, it’s likely a sign that something is wrong with your system and needs to be looked at by a professional.

How do you check to make sure your steam traps are working properly?

The best way to check that your steam traps are working properly is to use a high-quality digital pressure gauge. The gauge should be fitted with a 30/50 PSIG (200/300 kPa), or higher, pressure rating. It should also have an accuracy rating of +/- 0.5% FS or lower, as well as being calibrated at least once every six months.

In addition to checking for proper operation on a regular basis, you should also inspect the condition of your entire system’s piping and fittings for corrosion and leaks before each start-up or shutdown period (e.g., during cold weather). If there are any signs of corrosion in these areas, they must be repaired immediately before using the equipment again because they could lead to more severe problems down the road if left unattended!

What will happen if your steam traps are not functioning properly?

If your steam traps are not functioning properly, you can expect to see a variety of problems. Steam traps may cause equipment damage and safety issues, as well as significant energy loss.

Steam traps are important to the efficiency of your system, as they regulate the flow of condensate from the coil back into the boiler or hot water tank. If they fail to do so properly, water will build up in your coils instead of being routed back through them (and out through an overflow). This results in increased pressure build-up inside your unit, which may lead to leaks or even bursting pipes!

Additionally, if there’s too much moisture present inside your system, then mold growth becomes more likely because there’s more humidity available for it to grow on surfaces like grilles or insulation blankets that surround air handlers’ ventilation ducts (you know what I’m talking about).

If you have a steam trap that’s not functioning properly, it can cause: 

  • Energy loss (up to 20% of your total energy costs) 
  • Damaged equipment and safety issues (like water rushing out of your air handler) 
  • Mold growth from excess moisture in the air
annual reports to count your resource saving

Your energy savings could be much higher than you think!

The steam trap audit is a free service offered by many utility companies. A trained technician will come to your facility, check all of your steam traps and report back on which ones need to be replaced or repaired. The results of this audit can be used to improve both utility bills and energy efficiency.

The benefits of an annual inspection include:

  • A reduction in energy costs due to increased efficiency and lower maintenance costs (since leaky traps waste heat)
  • Improved comfort (less humidity)
  • Fewer safety risks (less steam, less risk of explosion or injury) Reduced carbon emissions (lowering the amount of fuel needed to generate steam and electricity)

Steam trap monitoring can save you money on utilities

Steam traps are used to control the flow of steam through a system. They are important because they prevent condensate from leaking into your equipment, which would cause corrosion and damage. A steam trap that is not working properly will cause the following problems:

  • Increased energy usage and costs due to increased heating/cooling requirements
  • Reduced equipment life span due to corrosion or water damage (depending on application)

It’s important for you as an owner or manager of commercial facilities to know how to check for leaks in your own systems, as well as any new ones you install. The important step is understanding what type of leak you’re dealing with–there are two common types: “internal” leaks occur when there is no physical damage but instead an internal malfunction; external leaks are usually caused by physical damage like cracks in pipes or valves needing repair.

Also, you should consider a special tool that will automate the monitoring process. Steam trap monitoring software like Pulse Industrial should be a good tool that will help you with this process, as it gives you immediate alert as soon as failure happens. This is a great way to reduce downtime and prevent energy loss.

Steam trap monitoring hardware device view


Steam traps are an important part of a building’s heating and cooling system. They can also be used to control condensate from air conditioning or refrigeration systems by routing it back into the process in order to reduce water bills. Before calling a contractor or replacing your old traps with new ones, consider checking for leaks and monitoring their operation with sensors so that you can make sure everything is working properly.

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