Developed in the early 1800s, immediately following this nation’s industrial revolution, steam trap valves are one of the most commonly used parts in many factories and manufacturing plants. Industries define a steam trap valve as a valve that is self-contained and which automatically drains condensate from a steam containing enclosure. It must remain tight to live steam, or if necessary, allow steam to flow at a controlled or adjusted rate. Most steam traps are also able to pass non-condensable gases while remaining tight to live steam.
Summarized in three brief points, these are the basic criteria for a valve to be labelled steam trap:
- It must automatically discharge condensate
- It can not leak steam
- It can also discharge non-condensable gases, one example being air
Steam trap valves when used, however, need to be monitored and maintained to be the most effective. A steam pressure table is a reference point, once printed on paper, that is now mostly used as a quick interface allowing the user to enter either the temperature or the pressure of the saturated steam to retrieve a list of the physical properties. A steam pressure table can quickly be created online once the user enters the requested information. If workers still want a paper version of a steam pressure table, the information is also available in PDF format. These PDFs are downloadable and printable.
Steam trap testing and steam trap maintenance are a regular part of most industrial maintenance lists. Failure to complete both testing and maintenance can lead to significant inefficiencies. In fact, steam systems that have not been maintained for three to five years are between 15% and 30% more likely to fail eventual testing. Proper maintenance, on the other hand, promotes, and nearly guarantees a more efficient environment. In systems with a regularly scheduled maintenance program, leaking steam traps should account for as little as 5% or less of the trap population.
Steam traps and other steam products can be used in any industry or plant where there is a steam system and a need to discharge condensate. A few applications include:
- Bulk storage tanks
- Industrial dryers
- Laundry industry garment presses and dry cleaning machines
- Pressure reducing valve stations
- Process equipment, including boiling pans, retorts, digesters, coppers, reboilers, evaporators and vulcanisers
- Space heating, including heat exchangers, radiant panels, unit heaters, air heater batteries and overhead pipe coils
- Steaming ovens
While old and inefficient steam traps can produce $8,000 in steam waste annually, quality equipment that is regularly maintained and repaired can reduce steam losses to less than 1%.