Steam Trap Testing and Maintenance

Steam Trap Testing and Maintenance

Steam trap Testing

Keep Your Steam Clean, Safe And Energy-Efficient

Steam is an essential resource is many industrial processes. As a result, most facilities have a vast network of piping, valves, flanges and steam traps. Within these systems there exists constant flow and turbulence. 

As pure steam travels from your boilers to their point of use, some cooling is inevitable. The result is accumulated condensate and gases. Steam traps purge this waste and keep your system pure.

A fully-functional steam trap opens, closes or modulates automatically. It discharges condensate once formed, unless the heat from the condensate can be used. It is energy-efficient and does not waste quality steam. It removes impurities from the live steam, and maintains purity and efficiency throughout the system. 

Steam Trap Failure Causes Losses to Product Quality, Safety and Energy Loss

Steam traps are necessary for the overall efficiency of heat energy transfer. A faultless steam system delivers steam from the boiler, through the system to where it is needed on time without the loss of heat energy. Also, transferring water to steam requires a lot of energy. When traps fail, they waste money, they create back pressure in the steam system and they cause process failures or quality issues with the end product. Furthermore, failed traps cause unnecessary waste that simple, easy, regular checkups can fix.


Ultrasound is best for Monitoring Steam Traps

Steam is a gas and as it flows through piping and steam traps there is turbulent flow, or lack thereof. Ultrasound technology’s ability to detect turbulence, even through thick piping makes it an essential tool when looking for faulty, failed steam traps.  

How to Detect a Failed Steam Trap with Ultrasound

Ultrasound technology is the perfect tool for detecting failed steam traps as faults can be found while the system is online. With an ultrasound detector you can hear:

  • The opening and closing of your steam trap
  • Silence if the steam trap is stuck in the closed position
  • Turbulent flow if the steam trap is stuck in the open position
  • Mechanical clattering if the steam trap’s valve is fluttering open and shut
  • Advanced instruments combine temperature with ultrasound for complete inspection

Your maintenance teams goals in regards to the steam system should include:

  • Minimum Steam Loss
  • Maximum Transfer of Heat
  • Timely removal of condensable gasses
Steam trap Testing

Inspection methods will vary on the type of steam system and traps you may have. There are four common types of steam traps:

  • Inverted Bucket
  • Float and Thermostatic
  • Thermostatic or Bimetallic
  • Thermodynamic or Disk

They operate based on either changes in density, temperature or velocity. 

While testing methods vary depending on the type of trap, this testing method will work well for most scenarios. What you’re listening for on your traps will vary. Which is why it is important to know your system and the kinds of traps you have.

First, get a feel for the way your steam system and traps sound. Touch the contact sensor to the housing of the trap. Listen to the trap collect and purge the steam as impurities are cycled out. Take recordings with your ultrasound device during both purging and collection phases. Then, measure upstream and downstream temperature as this is another good indicator of how well your traps are running. 

With ultrasound and temperature measurement you can determine if traps are stuck open or closed, plugged or stuck or working perfectly fine within one cycle. 

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Questions concerning Steam Trap Testing

Start by getting an idea of what your steam or trap systems sound like when they cycle by touching the installation with the contact sensor. As impurities are cycled out, listen to the trap collect and purge the steam. During the purging and collection phases, record using your ultrasound instrument. Then, as another useful indicator of how well your traps are running, measure upstream and downstream temperatures.

Steam is a gas, and it moves turbulently, or not at all, via pipework and steam traps. These traps are meant to purge the process. When the steam trap cycles normally, it can be detected with ultrasound. There will be a clear audio rendering representing this cycle. If the steam trap is stuck, open or closed, ultrasounds associated with this lack of cycle won’t be generated. The capacity of ultrasound technology to detect efficient cycles even through thick pipework makes it an indispensable tool for identifying faulty or failed steam traps.

When steam traps fail, they cost money, cause back pressure in the steam system, and result in process failures or product quality problems. Furthermore, failed traps result in excessive waste that can be avoided with simple, easy, and regular inspections.

The best Ultrasound Device for Steam Trap Testing and Maintenance


Detect, Measure and Analyze Ultrasound and Vibration with the SDT340, SDT latest and most advanced Ultrasound Detector.

Build trend graphs that trigger alarms and collect dynamic data for advanced time waveform analysis.


A turn-key condition monitoring solution combining the versatility of ultrasound, the analytics of vibration, standard communication protocols and an embedded trending and analysis software.

Steam checker

TRAPChecker is an ultrasound solution designed to assess the condition of steam traps and valves.

It is Focused, Simple and Affordable.