Why You Should Get Your Steam System Prepared For Winter NOW


Today is the perfect time to be proactive and consider preventative maintenance.  The heating season is very near. Don’t wait until the temperatures are freezing to get your steam plant ready. Being proactive and making preparations now can prevent system downtime and unplanned maintenance. The questions and answers below will help you understand why now is indeed, the time to prepare.

Is your boiler ready to operate at high capacity?
During the winter months your boiler will be operating at a stronger capacity than it does during other months of the year. Boiler failure can effect steam pressure and process equipment and result in poor performance of the steam system overall.  Steam system failure can also be a result, and can lead to unplanned downtime and lost production.  Be proactive now and contact your local boiler service technician for a boiler tune up.

Is your steam system producing good quality steam?
In order for your plant to operate at its peak performance, steam should be delivered in the correct quantity, and at the correct pressure and temperature.  It should be clean, dry, and free from air and other non-condensable gases. Good quality steam will ensure that you achieve the compliance and safety standards that are required for many processes and good quality steam can cut your energy costs, improve productivity and product quality, as well as reduce maintenance workload. If you are unsure of your steam quality, contact your local Spirax Sarco representative today about a steam system assessment

Are your pressure reducing valves working properly?
Well-designed steam systems produce clean dry steam for delivery at high pressure. Lower pressure steam is usually needed at the point of use. Effective control demands an automatic pressure reducing valve that can reduce steam pressure accurately and reliably.  

Watch this video to troubleshoot your pressure reducing valves. Need help with this task or are you thinking that your valves need repair? Our Spirax Sarco steam experts are available to assist.

Are your steam pipes and steam equipment well insulated?
The steam in your system piping gives up energy to the areas that surround the pipe. As it gives up its energy, condensate is formed in the pipe and must be removed to ensure good steam quality is achieved. When the temperature begins to fall and the area around pipes becomes cold, energy will be wasted if your pipes are poorly insulated. Like steam pipes, important piping components such as pressure reducing valves, strainers, mechanical steam traps, control and isolation valve bodies, and condensate pump receivers can waste energy if not insulated.  Removable insulation jackets are an effective way to insulate piping components.  A well-insulated steam system will ensure that wasted energy will be minimal and will also result in less steam being produced by the boiler. 

If your steam system has bare pipes and flanges, damaged or wet insulation, uninsulated steam components, and uninsulated valve bodies, rest assured that Spirax Sarco can help.  Get in touch with your local steam expert for assistance in correcting these issues.

Are your steam traps working properly?
It is very important to maintain your steam trap population and keep it in good order. A healthy steam trap population allows condensate to be removed from the steam system effectively which means that process efficiency can be optimized, equipment is protected and the condensate can be re-used. Good steam trap management ensures good steam quality, improved safety, and energy savings in your steam system. It also results in less chance of damage from issues like waterhammer, corrosion, erosion, and freezing. 

Below are some points to consider about steam traps and getting your system prepared for winter.

  • Steam Trap Selection – Having the correct steam trap in place can make a difference in the winter time. It’s important to consider what type of equipment is being drained and what the pressures and load profiles of the equipment are. Be sure to consider if the trap will be located indoors or outdoors and also if inadequate drainage will affect the process. Your local Spirax Sarco representative is available to provide you with expert advice and guidance.
  • Tracing Line Steam Traps – If tracing line steam traps are failed closed this can be an area where water will collect and possibly freeze.  If they are discharging condensate on the ground outside, freezing could likely occur and result in a slip hazard. Contact your local Spirax Sarco representative about a condensate manifold as a possible solution.
  • Liquid Expansion Steam Traps (Freeze Protection Devices) - The liquid expansion steam traps employ a liquid expansion device to discharge condensate at a predefined temperature. It can easily be adjusted on site to any temperature within the operating range. These traps are suited for the winter temperatures. Ask your local Spirax Sarco representative about the the Freezeton Temperature Actuated Steam Trap and the Thermoton Liquid Expansion Steam Trap. 
  • Failed Closed Steam Traps  – A well maintained steam trap population should have less than 5% failed steam traps. Steam traps that are corroded leak steam, waste heat energy, and waste money. Failed closed steam traps cause condensate to back up into the steam main, resulting in waterhammer, freezing, extended start-up times, and can cause wet steam.   If you believe your steam system is suffering from any of these mentioned issues your local Spirax Sarco representative is available to provide you with expert advice and guidance. Be sure to ask them about a Steam Trap Survey

If you’ve answered 'yes' to the questions above and need a bit of advice, our expert engineers are available and ready to help.  Get in touch today.