How a Hot Tapping Machine Can Help Your Pipes

When your pipeline or pressure vessels start corroding, it can really throw a wrench into your operation.

Not only do you have to stop the entire system and lose precious time, but you also risk releasing harmful gases into the air. So are there any ways you can repair pipes without putting you or your business at risk?

Luckily, there are. Hot tapping machines allow you to address these issues without removing pipes or tanks from service. In this article, we’re going to address the basics of hot tapping, its benefits, and important considerations for its use. 

What Is Hot Tapping?

Hot tapping is a technique where a branch connection attaches to a pipe while the system is in operation. This creates an opening in the pipe by drilling or cutting. 

Hot tapping is used for piping systems, as well as pressure vessels and storage tanks for adding nozzles. Because it’s considered to be a dangerous operation, hot tapping should only be used when it’s impractical to take a system out of commission and when it’s absolutely safe to do so. 

What Are the Benefits of Hot Tapping?

Hot tapping helps repair areas that have corroded or experienced mechanical damage. It’s also used for adding branches to systems. 

There’s no need to depressurize anything or disrupt any process operations. Hot tapping is also better for the environment since keeping pipes in place prevents the release of any greenhouse gases into the air.   

Basic Steps for Hot Tapping

Before you start hot tapping pipes, it’s important to get all the right documentation and equipment in order. Make sure you do all the proper calculations and risk assessments while referencing correct design drawings and sketches. 

Typical hot tapping equipment includes a drilling machine, branch fittings, and a valve. The drilling machine should have a mechanically driven telescoping boring bar that controls the cutting tool. 

Hot tapping starts with welding a tapping fitting like a split tee or reinforced flanged fitting. You then install a hot-tapping valve, then install the hot tapping machine on the valve for pressure cutting. This removes the section of the pipe. 

Precautions for Hot Tapping

Certain precautions should be made before operating any hot tapping machines.

Sometimes the risk of burn-through is too high, in which case hot tapping is not advised. Burn-through occurs when the area underneath the weld pool isn’t strong enough to contain the pressure of the pipe. 

The flowing product can also have unstable decomposition properties, which causes violent reactions when heated under pressure. Hydrogen cracking can also occur if the heat input isn’t properly considered.  

You can use computer heat modeling techniques to ensure safe procedures for hot tapping. With it being such a risky operation, you should take as many precautions as possible before starting. 

Leverage Hot Tapping Machines for Your Needs

While rather complicated, hot tapping machines allow you to repair corroding pipes efficiently. Use this article to decide whether hot tapping is right for you. 

For more information on industrial maintenance and repairs, contact us today!

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