Things to Look for with Fall Steam System Start Ups

Steam has many performance advantages that make it an indispensable means of delivering energy. These advantages include low toxicity, ease of transportability, high efficiency, high heat capacity, and low cost with respect to the other alternatives.

Fall Steam System Start Ups

As temperatures begin to fall, many businesses are scrambling to get their steam systems up and running for the coming season. It may seem like a simple process to start up your steam system, but many issues can occur after a long hiatus. Here are 5 things to look for and tips to fix or avoid these issues in future Fall Steam System Start Ups:

1. Corrosion or Build-Up

Issue: Problems are likely to develop if your steam system is run with unbalanced water. Different minerals such as calcium can cause severe damage to your steam and condensate systems over time. This can be even more problematic if you are in a rush to start your system due to sudden cooling temperatures.  Scale build-up is likely to affect heat exchangers. Corrosion can affect all types of pipes and tanks.

Solution: Your water quality is the main culprit when it comes to corrosion and build up issues. It is important to have your water quality tested regularly, even if your steam system is not in use. Apex also offers a variety of steam quality measurement equipment so you can easily keep an eye on your water quality.

2. Frozen Lines

Issue: Did you wait too long to start up your steam system? Even if it’s not that cold, a poorly insulated steam system can still freeze. This can cause a difficult start up and difficulty in maintaining temperature. It can even cause pipes to burst, which can be dangerous to employees and nearby equipment.

Solution: Drain as much liquid as you can from the system before you shut it down for summer. You can also implement thermostatic controls to monitor and control temperatures of liquids. Insulation Jackets provide further protection from both too much heat and too much cold.

3. Water Hammer

Issue: If your steam system is not properly designed or installed, you can get what is called Water Hammer. Water Hammer is a result of condensate gathering at the lowest point in a pipe system that is not quickly removed. If this happens, high velocity steam can pick up the condensate and slam into the nearest obstruction (such as a pipe wall). This will result in a devastating high shock wave that can cause severe damage.

Solution: Install steam traps at the lowest condensate points in your system. Even when your system is designed and installed properly, and you have the proper steam traps in place, you can still run into issues. Before you run your steam system, schedule a steam trap audit with Apex. We will travel to you and meticulously check and test each steam trap in your system to ensure the greatest safety and best energy savings.

4. Pressure Drop

Issue: There are many causes of pressure drop in a steam system including: inefficient equipment, poorly manufactured equipment, under or oversized equipment, unmaintained equipment, old equipment, and more.

Solution: If you experience pressure drop for any reason, call Apex and we will walk through your entire system with you and discover what the issue is. We can recommend changes that will not only remedy your pressure drop, but may also improve your energy efficiency. Replacing even one piece of outdated equipment can save you thousands of dollars in lost pressure and steam per year.

5. Failure (Anywhere!)

Issue: There are many moving parts in a steam system. If even one cog in the machine is not working as it should, the entire system may not work properly, work as efficiently, or not operate at all. Control valves may not be sized correctly, pumps may be suffering from cavitation, economizers can have failed tubing… The list goes on and on.

Solution: If possible, try to isolate the issue down to one piece of equipment. This can be accomplished by installing instrumentation across your steam process. This instrumentation can locate pressure drops, temperature spikes, monitor liquid and steam flow, and more. Once the problem equipment is isolated, you can perform a maintenance check. If the equipment looks good, be sure to check that your instrumentation equipment is working as it should. Even the equipment we rely on for status information can fail!

If you are still having issues and aren’t sure where to turn, you can always call Apex.

Our team of steam experts can do a full analysis of your process and identify any issues.

Call our team for more information: 763-777-9525

Or schedule your analysis today:

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