Is Pressure Tapping Risky?

Pressure tapping is a great solution to avoid whole-system shut-downs if you take the proper precautions. Some people avoid pressure tapping because of the potential risks involved.

These same people end up spending more time and more money than they need to. They also end up with inconvenienced clients. If you know when to use a tap, you could avoid all these issues and get the job done quickly.

In this article, we discuss what is pressure tapping and how to take the proper precautions in tapping. Continue reading to see why it’s a great tool to use.

What Is Pressure Tapping?

Pressure tapping, also called hot tapping, is used to repair pipelines or pipeline expansions without depressurizing the system. It’s beneficial because it minimizes downtime. Plus, you can isolate sections of the pipeline for tapping. 

When to Use Pressure Tapping

Part of safety in pressure tapping is knowing when to use pressure tapping. As we said, when you need to tie into a pipeline, you can either shut down the entire system or use pressure tapping. The former creates extra work but is often deemed safer.

Though hot tapping comes with additional risks, it’s a simple process. A tapping fitting and valve are placed onto the pipeline, the tapping machine cuts into the line, and both are securely attached to the line. This process prevents the loss of water pressure. 

Avoiding unhappy customers by turning off their water access is a good example of when to use a tap. It also cuts out the need to perform additional tests and boil orders. 

Maintaining Safety in Pressure Tapping

While pressure tapping is useful, it presents certain risks such as burn-through, which can happen on older, corroded pipes. This happens when the area underneath the weld pool isn’t strong enough to handle the pressure in the pipe.

Burn-through on a thin pipe can cause a violent and dangerous reaction.

Risk Assessment

In order to avoid this, there are certain precautions in tapping such as proper training and equipment. A preliminary risk assessment should also be performed.

Part of this assessment should include a contingency plan in case things go wrong. The entire team needs to be clear on what to do in case this happens. It’s also worth communicating with the local fire department in case they need to step in. 

Other Precautions

Another important step is making sure this area doesn’t exceed critical temperatures. For example, there’s a higher risk of hydrogen cracking if there is a higher heat flow (which could exceed critical temperatures) and a shorter cooling time. This results in rigid microstructures that are prone to cracking.

To maintain safety in pressure tapping, it’s important to manage the cooling capacity of the pipeline. You can utilize a computer-generated heat flow model to achieve a better understanding of the risks. 

Other considerations include the thickness of the pipe, wall integrity, operating pressure, operating temperature, and chemical compatibility of materials used. 

Being Prepared for Pressure Tapping

Pressure tapping is a great method to use in order to avoid costly service shut-downs. It keeps customers happy and keeps maintenance simple. 

If you are well-prepared, the risks are minimal. Make sure to perform the proper risk assessments and get your team on the same page in case things go wrong. With good communication and preparedness, you can work with confidence.

To learn more about pressure tapping and our other services, contact us today. 

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