Steam Traps Fail: Reasons, Factors Affecting, and Preventive Methods
Many plant managers are concerned about steam trap failure. Steam trap failure degrades the performance of steam systems and poses a safety threat. Steam trap failure can be caused by a variety of factors. It would be beneficial to go over a couple of them and learn how to prevent them.
Steam is typically dry when it leaves the boiler house. Radiation losses and condensate formation occur as steam flows through the pipework. During heating operations, steam loses heat to the heated items, resulting in condensate formation. Steam traps have a critical role in eliminating condensate as soon as it forms.
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Failed steam traps have the following negative impacts:
- Affects the entire steam system
- It's a waste of energy
- Production decreases
- Maintenance costs rise
Traps are adversely affected by three general conditions:
- Dirt is the most common cause of failure, resulting in a leaky or plugged trap.
- Water-hammer and consequent damage to the internal steam trap components due to pressure surges (due to sudden steam valve openings, faulty pipework, or trap misapplications).
- Oversized IB traps may lose their prime, whereas TD traps may experience rapid cycling.
When a steam trap fails, the condensate is improperly removed. The annual failure rate of steam traps in some steam systems can be as high as 35%. As a result, it's critical to comprehend the causes of steam trap failure. The following are some of the reasons that cause or hasten the failure of steam traps:
Reasons for the Failure of Steam Traps
Contamination of Feed Water
Carryover is caused by improper feed water treatment, which contributes to steam trap failure.
Steam Traps Installed Incorrectly
Some steam traps include built-in strainers, while others require the installation of a separate strainer before the steam trap. In the absence of a strainer, rust or other debris may be entrained inside the trap, causing damage to the trap's internal system.
Inadequate Maintenance or a Lack of Maintenance
Every steam trap necessitates regular maintenance. Steam trap maintenance has been noted to be either badly performed or altogether absent at numerous plants. Every steam system should have a maintenance schedule that must be adhered to.
Condensate pollution occurs when heat exchangers leak or when several utilities are used. Condensate contamination can lower the pH and make it acidic. Acidic condensate corrodes the internals of steam traps, which is one of the reasons why they fail.
Choosing the Incorrect Type of Steam Trap
Selecting the steam trap is the most important step in determining a steam trap's performance and operating life. Frequently, the incorrect type of steam trap is fitted to the incorrect application. As a result, the steam trap's lifespan is reduced.
How to Prevent Steam Traps from Failing?
- Conduct a steam trap survey regularly.
- Identify flaws in the system's design.
- Conduct an insulating inspection. The cost of steam production will be increased in areas where insulation has been removed and never reinstalled.
- Check for bypass valves in your steam system using ultrasonic detection equipment. They could be leaking when they should be shut down.
- Seasonally operated equipment, such as unit heaters, should be turned off.
- Using a hand-held IR temperature analyzer and an ultrasonic leak detector, test control valves or shut off valves in the HVAC system should be analyzed regularly. They increase overall energy expenses, even if they are partially leaking.
- Examine the system and inventory equipment that isn’t in use. Remove any systems that are no longer functional.
- Use a computerized system to manage and analyze processes whenever possible and practical.
The efficiency and operating life of steam traps will considerably improve if the concerns stated above are avoided and the steps are followed.
Technomax is the primary source for Condition Monitoring of Steam Traps inspection for achieving improved reliability, with over 15 years of industry experience. To provide the best services, their dedicated, qualified, and experienced resources collaborate closely with customers. Technomax provides expert steam trap inspection and monitoring for better efficiency and increased lifespan.
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