Here Are 3 Tips To Repair A High Pressure Steam Leak
You should let some steam off. Just not through gaps in your pipes.
A high-pressure steam leak drives up energy costs and endangers employees. Hundreds of workers have received steam burns from leaking and corroded pipes. But few companies know how to repair a steam leak.
You need to prepare against steam leaks, and you need to respond to them as they occur. Here are three tips.
1. Understand the Causes of a Steam Leak
There are three main causes of a steam leak. Any one of them can occur at any moment.
The first is piping and tubing connections. Leaks usually occur between pipes, not within pipes.
Solder your pipes together so there are no gaps between them. Fit your pipes to create a very tight bond.
Never thread pipes together. The thread is the weakest part of the pipe because the thread expands and contracts under pressure. Use welding and flanges instead.
The second is erosion. Your entire steam system should handle intense pressure. All water pipes will erode with time, but you can extend their life.
Mix steam vapor with liquid condensate. Condensate reduces the amount of water you use, reducing erosion. You will need a heat exchanger and pumps if you use condensate.
Install steam traps throughout your system. Steam traps reduce condensate and water buildup that causes erosion.
The third cause is valve failures. Most valves allow too much steam to flow at once, causing a leak. Use ball and butterfly valves instead of packed valves.
Ball valves have levers that let you control the flow through the pipes. Butterfly valves use wheels to control the flow. Pick valves that let you regulate the flow at any given time.
2. Implement Inspections
You should test and inspect your piping on a regular basis. Review your boiler room and walk through your building space. Ask your employees to report any suspicious sounds or sensations from the piping.
Use infrared technology to scan under the ground. Infrared measures heat emitted from broken pipes.
Run compressed air or colored water through your piping. This can help you determine if any leaks occur. This can also help you test the erosion resistance and flowrate of pipes and valves.
3. Learn How to Patch a Leak
As soon as a leak occurs, shut off your system and call a maintenance company. But you also need to take steps to cure a leak.
If you manage to stop the flow, prepare a patch. Cut a piece of the next-largest-sized pipe. Clean the leaking pipe, then apply the patch over top with hose clamps.
If you cannot stop the flow, you can apply a tourniquet. Wrap a tight band around the leak area, and velcro the band in place. Wrap impact-resistant coatings over the band.
Wear personal protective equipment whenever you are repairing a leak. Most steam leaks are invisible to the naked eye.
Contact an Experienced Corrosion Company
You can’t repair a steam leak by plugging your finger in it. You repair a leak with precautions and smarts.
Understand the three main causes of steam leaks. Buy materials that resist corrosion and stand up to air and water pressure. Inspect everything you buy and use.
Learn how to patch a leak. Use piping and bands as tourniquets.
RAK Industrial Services is Northeast Ohio’s leading corrosion control company. We have nearly 50 years of experience in repairing pipes and storage tanks. Contact us today, or call us at 440-985-2171.