Steam Trap Testing

Testing steam traps using temperature involves measuring the temperature of the steam entering the trap. Here are the steps to do so:

1. Identify the steam trap you want to test. It could be a specific trap or a series of traps in a steam system. We recommend all the traps between the boiler and sterile processing be identified and set up on a 6 week schedule.

2. Locate the steam trap’s inlet connection. The inlet is where the steam enters the trap, and includes the inlet strainer.

3. Use a non-contact infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of the steam entering the trap at the inlet connection.

Infrared thermometers work by detecting the infrared radiation emitted by an object and converting it into a temperature reading. They use a sensor called a thermopile, which consists of multiple small thermocouples connected in series. When the sensor is exposed to infrared radiation, each thermocouple generates a small electric voltage proportional to the temperature difference between the object and the sensor.

The thermopile converts the voltage into a temperature reading, which is displayed on the thermometer. Some infrared thermometers also have a laser pointer that helps to target the object being measured.

It’s important to note that infrared thermometers measure the surface temperature of an object and not the internal temperature.However, shiny surfaces, such as polished metal or glass, have a high reflectivity, which means they reflect a significant amount of infrared radiation rather than absorbing it. This reflection can interfere with the accuracy of the temperature reading obtained by the infrared thermometer. As a result, the thermometer may measure the temperature of the reflected surroundings rather than the actual temperature of the shiny surface itself.

On stainless steel or other shiny piping, spraying a small spot of black high temperature paint increases the infrared sensing accuracy. On 100 psi steam we are looking for 300F, on 60-70 psi sterilizer steam we are looking for 270F. Any less means the trap may be plugging.

An ultrasonic stethoscope is a device used to detect and analyze ultrasonic sound waves. When it comes to testing steam traps, here’s how an ultrasonic stethoscope typically works:

1. Ultrasonic Detection: Steam traps are designed to remove condensate from steam systems. Over time, steam traps can develop faults or fail, leading to energy losses and decreased system efficiency. An ultrasonic stethoscope detects high-frequency sound waves produced by steam leaks or the presence of condensate in faulty steam traps.

2. Probe Placement: The ultrasonic stethoscope is equipped with a probe or sensor that is placed near the steam trap being tested. The probe is designed to pick up ultrasonic signals emitted by the steam trap.

3. Sound Analysis: The ultrasonic stethoscope amplifies and converts the detected ultrasonic sound waves into audible signals that can be heard by the user. These signals are then analyzed to determine the condition of the steam trap.

4. Interpretation: By listening to the sound signals, experienced technicians can identify specific patterns or anomalies associated with faulty steam traps. These patterns might include hissing, gurgling, or turbulent sounds caused by steam leaks or blockages.

5. Maintenance and Repair: Once a faulty steam trap is identified, appropriate maintenance or repair actions can be taken to rectify the issue. This might involve cleaning, replacing, or adjusting the steam trap to restore its proper functioning.

It’s worth noting that the specific operation of an ultrasonic stethoscope can vary depending on the manufacturer and model. Therefore, it’s always recommended to consult the user manual or receive proper training to ensure accurate and effective use of the device for testing steam traps.


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