An Emergency Request For A Steam Trap Testing Audit

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

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

Solution:
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..

Results:
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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