Why are traps a sustainability issue?
Steam traps are automatic valves which open and close automatically to discharge condensate (water) with a negligible loss of steam. When these traps fail closed, they hold back the condensate and creating a hazardous condition that can destroy the HVAC equipment. If they fail open, live steam will pass into condensate return lines. This creates a loss of energy and a hazardous condition by pressurizing the condensate piping. Here is a good presentation of a 10 step program for reducing energy consumption (where we are quoted heavily).
Increasingly, institutional managers face fiscal challenges posed by aging mechanical systems, budget and staff reductions and deteriorating maintenance.
Why are traps a sustainability issue? At a Chicago area hospital, a steam trap survey identified 26 failed open traps (out of 294 surveyed).At this facility, energy cost to produce steam is $8.19 per thousand pounds of steam. Computing the total steam lost through these 26 high pressure traps reflects a simple payback period of 0.4 years to implement the survey and repairs. After the payback, future energy savings comes to approximately $40,000.00 a year. That's what accountants call an annuity!
This reduction of fuel consumed reduced carbon emissions at the rate of 223 tons per year. To put that into perspective: a typical automobile achieving 20 MPG, driven 12,000 miles per year would consume 600 gallons of gasoline and produce 11,760 pounds of carbon emissions. The reduction in carbon emissions from reducing the steam loss is like taking 40 of these automobiles off the road.
How do these leaks occur? First it's important to understand the trap is an internal leak. If you saw a typical failed open trap as an external leak you would fix it immediately.
The valve and seat are the key components that prevent energy loss. On a medium pressure hospital steam line of 60 psi, the condensate is over 300F at the valve seat. As the condensate is discharged it drops in pressure and 10% flashes back into steam. The volume expansion is over 100:1. This hot flashing condensate erodes the valve seating surface, eventually causing the live steam losses discussed above.
How to manage your steam traps? We can perform a steam trap survey at your facility. The survey has a nominal cost, but the payback to find and repair leaking traps is phenomenal, enhances sustainability and reduces your carbon footprint. You'll receive a database of your traps, a report on failures and mis-applications and training on steam fundamentals and how to diagnose trap problems.
Do not rely on temperature or infrared testing alone!
See Testing Traps Pays Dividends, our article on why temperature testing must be combined with ultrasonic testing.
A competent surveyor will examine the facility steam traps in order to uncover failed or non-operating traps and provide the following services:
View other technical discussions on steam
Is your system producing clean, dry stearm?
Regulators and valves last longer when handling clean, dry steam. Ask for our articles on steam quality, or about a training class at your facility.
Eliminate Steam Problems.
Thermo Diagnostics will work with your facility engineers to eliminate steam problems. This saves cost, time, effort and reduces staff complaints. Reduced "reprocessing" will improve productivity, service and morale. The net result will be increased efficiency and quality of facility management.
How is Steam Quality Testing related to Wet Pack Troubleshooting?
ST-79 and EN-285 procedures develop data and we test according to those procedures. What makes us different is we also test the rest of the valves, insulation, boiler piping and water supply that can impact steam quality.
You rely on the system to deliver steam that is clean, dry and sterile... ...how do you figure out what's causing the problems? That's our job.
Independent, Confidential, Experienced.
We are not affiliated with any sterilizer or humidifier manufacturer.
Our audit staff average 30 years experience with steam in hospitals and life sciences.