What’s a Hot Tap?

Do you own a pipeline and often find that you need to shut down your entire project to complete repairs? Good news! Those days are gone.

A hot tap is a repair method that can keep your project in operation while maintenance is occurring. Read on to learn more about this beneficial emergency repair.

What Is a Hot Tap?

A hot tap gets created to work with a pressurized system safely. It ties into the system by cutting or drilling during its time on stream and under pressure.

The connections consist of the following:

  • Tapping fittings, reinforced branch, or split tee
  • Isolation valve (ball or gate)
  • Hot tapping machine including a cutter and housing

Mechanical fittings are used to make hot taps on main pipelines if designed with the right pressure in mind. Not all mechanical fittings are right for pipelines.

Hot taps can help avoid a costly shutdown. Although there are many reasons to make one, it is not a routine procedure. This means the method should only get used under certain circumstances.

Considerations Before Making a Hot Tap

You shouldn’t try to install a hot tap on your own. Only trained professionals and experienced crews can do the job for you.

If you attempt to use the hot tapping technique on a sour gas line, you are risking certain health concerns.

Whether you are dealing with sewer pipe lining or cast iron pipelining, you must ensure that they have enough wall thickness to saw or drill in the hot tap. A professional can measure this with ultrasonic thickness gauges.

The wall pipe thickness needs to be equal to the required thickness for pressure. Without the right amount of wall thickness, loss of containment from the weld pool is a serious risk.

For example, if the thickness of the wall is only a little more than the requirement for pressure, you should not risk it.

When hiring a professional for welding on in-service pipelines, ensure that they are trained and have the proper experience. These workers must have certain qualifications to safely ensure the welds are fine under pressure.

Hot Tap Process

The hot tap is made in a continuous process. Once the machine starts, the cut continues until it passes through the pipe wall. This results in a section of the pipe getting removed, otherwise known as the “coupon.”

Once the cutter gets through the pipe, the hot tap machine stops. After the cutter gets retracted to the hot tap adapter, the valve is closed.

Pressure leaves the inside of the hot tap adapter so that the machine can be safely removed from the line.

Avoiding Shutdowns With a Hot Tap

The biggest advantage of a hot tap is that pipeline owners can bypass or isolate sections of the pipeline without shutting down their projects. This means no downtime and no product loss.

The hot tap procedure should only be left in the hands of a professional. For quality repairs that you can trust by hot tapping, contact us today. 


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