An Emergency Request For A Steam Trap Testing Audit

Case Study by:
Bruce Gorelick, Enercheck Systems, Inc. & Conserv-it Software, Inc.

Customer complained of high back pressure in their condensate system. He believed that the problem was failed steam traps.

Bruce tested the 250 steam traps and found a failure rate of 23 percent. Around each steam trap was a bypass valve. Failed steam traps did indeed have a direct bearing on the problem he was called into solve: Abnormally High Back Pressure in the Condensate System.  However, there was another contributor to the problem.  After ultrasonically testing the bypass valves around steam traps, he discovered a ¾” bypass valve had inadvertently been left open by a contractor that had replace a steam trap.  Because it was a low rise valve it was not easily identified. The sound emitted from the totally open valve in this 150 psi steam system was huge. He heard the open valve a good distance away before he approached the problem area. The HVAC mechanic proceeded to close the valve that had no business being left open..

Problems solved. Bad steam traps were replaced within a week of their identification.  Locking caps were placed on each bypass valve–this would prevent the same contractor or any unauthorized personnel from opening one in the future.

The open 3/4″ bypass valve @ 150 psi steam pressure (24 hrs per day and 365 days/yr.) and a steam cost of 10.50 per/1,000 lbs. of steam produced represents a loss of  approx. $207,000.00.  The additional traps found leaking and blowing at the facility amounted to a loss of $ 67,000.00. The total approx. loss at the facility was $274,000.00.
Yearly audits are now scheduled and the company claims they have hundreds of thousands of dollars in annualized savings from proper trap testing and leak identification.

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