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Nonresidential Steam Trap Monitoring

Measure Description

The proposal for the steam traps monitoring code change requires mandatory automatic monitoring equipment in new construction, and additions and alterations for large installations of all steam trap types. The change impacts all industries using steam traps from oil and gas producers to food processing, hospitals, and universities. The site installation size limits proposed are intended to trigger the code for sites that will be installing a significant number of steam traps and thereby generate a significant savings potential while allowing the smaller users to operate using manual inspection and monitoring methods which are more suited to their specific usage groups.

Automated monitoring provides a method that reports any failure instantly and eliminates the labor required to manually check the traps. Steam traps separate live steam from condensate and non-condensables (e.g. air). Most steam traps have moving parts and eventually fail. Additionally, solid contaminants in the steam system can clog steam traps or result in the traps becoming failed in a partially open condition. When steam traps fail open or leak, steam is vented to the atmosphere through the condensate return system resulting in the loss of significant amounts of energy and treated water. Steam trap monitoring systems are available from multiple sources including the manufacturers of steam traps and manufacturers of industrial and building controls.

Automatic steam trap monitoring systems use steam trap fault detection sensors which monitor the conditions of the traps. Data collected can include temperature, ultrasonic signals, and other information that makes it possible to diagnose steam trap malfunction. Either wired or wireless systems can be used to remotely transmit signals that reports the trap condition, enabling plant operators to capture real-time steam trap operation data and quickly correct malfunctions. Signals are received by a software application that measures, monitors, and manages this information.

Installing strainers upstream of steam traps increases their life and renders it less likely that the steam trap will experience a failure. Together with remote monitoring, this code proposal would codify what are steam system best practices.

Using the steam trap orifice size provides the best estimate of steam losses from failed traps, but orifice size can be difficult to confirm in the field. The pipe outlet size of the steam trap is easy to confirm visually but is a less accurate indication of the magnitude of the energy risk associated with an unrepaired steam trap. The team will conduct a sensitivity analysis of the trade-offs between accuracy and enforceability of steam trap thresholds based on orifice size versus outlet pipe diameter.

Relevant Documents

Measure proposals, supporting documents, and other outside references will be made public as they become available.

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This measure description will be updated as research is developed to support the 2022 code cycle. For questions or suggestions, email Include the measure name in the subject line.


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The Statewide CASE Team values input from all stakeholders engaged in the Title 24, Part 6 code change process. We encourage the open exchange of code change comments and concerns.

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