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Detect Steam Trap Failures

Commercial Buildings – Solutions


Many buildings, university campuses and hospitals use steam for heating and for other processes. In many cases, steam systems waste up to 20% of their energy through leaks. The biggest source of leaks is malfunctioning steam traps.  Even well maintained facilities experience 15-20% failure rates per year according to the US Department of Energy.  Traps that haven’t been maintained for a few years can have failure rates as high as 50%.

The Challenge

To identify and fix leaks, most facility managers implement annual steam trap audits, which involve using a hand-held infrared gun to “shoot” trap temperatures. Based on the temperature readings, and depending on whether a trap is in a condensate return or open loop, and whether a trap is of the thermostatic or mechanical type, the audit engineer will declare a trap failed or not. Fixing or replacing a failed trap will then stop the leak or blockage.

An average site may have hundreds of steam traps, many in hard to reach locations, which makes audits very time consuming, dangerous and expensive.  Moreover, if an audit is only done once a year, the average failed trap that is identified has lost six months of steam. Even for a small steam trap (1/8″ orifice), a six-month leak will cost almost $5,000 at steam costs of $15 per 1,000 lbs.

The Cypress Envirosystems Solution

The Wireless Steam Trap Monitor solution provides a cost-effective, easy-to-install retrofit solution for existing steam traps. The wireless clamp-on sensors can be installed without breaking seals or shutting down steam systems and they analyze trap status multiple times daily.  A central receiver/hub collects all the data and allows trending, analysis, alarming, and historization from any Windows PC or Mac using a simple browser. Steam trap failures can be detected within a hour with an email or text message alarm being sent to the operator. The data can also be integrated with existing plant automation systems (via OPC or BACnet) and displayed on existing operator control stations.

Case Studies

The Wireless Steam Trap Monitor is used by many customers in university campuses, pharmaceutical plants, mining facilities, manufacturing sites and hospitals around the world. Because of the low upfront cost and easy installation, the payback on investment is generally around 6-12 months. Genentech, one of the earliest users of this solution, has carefully documented the savings and benefits.

Genentech Predictive Maintenance Case Study (January 2009)

RND Pharma Steam Trap Energy Savings Case Study

Overview of WSTM Benefits