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Steam Trap Management

Steam Trap Management

Steam Traps should be inspected to determine whether they are functioning properly or allowing live steam to blow through. Generate a program for periodic inspection and maintenance of traps. Ensure correct reporting and evaluate monetary savings. Typically, high pressure traps should be inspected at least twice a month, medium pressure traps once in two months, and low pressure traps once in six months. Plants where traps haven't been inspected or maintained for 3 years or more could have up to 30% of their traps blowing steam. This could be brought down to less than 5% with a well designed and executed maintenance program.

Why Steam Trap Management System is Necessary?
Steam for process heating and turbine drives plays a vital role in today’s chemical process plants. Much attention has been devoted to energy conservation of steam generators (boilers) and process equipments (heat exchangers, dryers, evaporators etc). However a large quantity of energy lost in transporting steam from boilers to different areas of the plant. Large chemical plants like fertilizers, petrochemicals, refineries etc. have kilometers of steam network which could be major energy guzzlers if proper attention is not given to this area. Reducing energy losses in the distribution or transmission system also helps in improving the ‘end-use’ efficiency. The various losses associated with the steam distribution pipes and fittings could add to a significant amount. Worse still, energy losses in this area could rise very sharply, if unchecked, as the plant gets older. The losses could be minimized by continuous monitoring and proper maintenance of steam supply pipelines.

Consider that one leaking DN 15 steam trap on a 10 kg/cm² (g) distribution line can lose upto 25 kg of steam per hour. For a plant that operates 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, with a steam cost of Rs. 1.30 per kg, this translates to a loss of Rs.2, 84,700.00 Extrapolate this to a plant with 300 traps installed with 10% traps leaking and this becomes Rs. 85,41,000.00 for the year.

Steps in Steam Trap Management :

  • Train Personnel
  • Locate and identify (tag) every trap
  • Assess the operating conditions of every trap
  • Trap operation
  • Trap selection
  • Trap installation
  • Condensate Return

Rectify faults found during trap assessment :

  • Replace leaking traps
  • Replace wrongly selected traps
  • Replace leaking valves
  • Ensure effective condensate return

Develop a trap database and establish frequent checking :

    High pressure
  • check monthly
  • Medium pressure
  • check quarterly
  • Low pressure
  • check every six months


The major areas of energy conservation in steam lines are the following :
Insulation, condensate recovery, Trap flash loss, steam trap leakage, external steam leakage, pressure loss due to improper piping sizing and pipe redundancy. The paper is based in the practical experience of the author in the area of energy auditing of steam networks in large number of industries. It discusses energy conservation aspects of few of the major areas like insulation, steam trap selection, condensate recovery, flash steam recovery in detail. The energy audit methodology of hot-pipe insulation, calculation of heat losses, criteria of and selection of appropriate type and thickness of insulation and is presented in the paper. The use of protective covering along with the common types used in industry is highlighted.

In many plants, most of the steam traps are actually steam wasters. Proper selection of steam traps results in a long-lasting, trouble free steam distribution system. Different types of steam traps, their advantages, and disadvantages, evaluation of performance is also discussed. Live steam losses from leakages in steam pipeline are another major area of energy loss in the distribution network. The monetary loss incurred by an industry due to leakage of steam at different pressures is calculated for different aperture sizes and presented in the paper. In most applications, only the latent heat of steam is extracted, and the condensate contains the sensible heat (about 25% of the original heat content). Further the water has been treated to avoid scale formation in boilers, and hence is of very pure. As a result we are a distinguished company providing steam trap management services.