Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

fuel savings after replacing steam traps

this system is unlike my 1-piper but maybe only 3 times bigger.
is it possible that the pressure has been raised beyond its oringal design point and that this is responsable for some of the traps leaking?
as these old systems ran with ounces of pressure the old traps might leak simply because of design rather than age.--nbc


  • NoelJ
    NoelJ Member Posts: 3
    fuel savings after replacing bad traps

    Guys/Gals I could use your help in coming up with some numbers. I work for a hospital in New England and need to come up with some numbers for my director on the fuels savings incured after replacing bad steam traps. Versus the amount of fuel wasted by traps that are blowing by. I'm am guessing the savings will be considerable with todays fuel prices. There are several hundred to do and I have to justfy spending the money. I would greatly appreciate any and all help.

    Noel -
    HVACR Technician
    Lowell General Hospital
    Lowell, Ma. 01854
  • Al Letellier_9
    Al Letellier_9 Member Posts: 929
    steam trap savings

    It would be almost impossibble to calculate, Noel if you don't know how many are bad. Best to do a survey first to see what % of traps are bad or leaking by. I assume you have a two pipe system?? A lot of bad traps would show up at condensate receivers as steam out of the vents....a lot of guessing would be involved. Maybe an engineer could find a way to calculate losses, but I know of nothing accurate enough to meet your needs. Lost water and amount of make up would be a place to start.

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
  • Alaska Joe
    Alaska Joe Member Posts: 37
    Lots of bad traps

    will be obvious, there will be 'blows' from vent pipes. Simply explain to your bosses that when they see those steam 'blows', that they're watching dollar bills disappearing. And what the don't see disappearing are the many more dollar bills that will be wasted on prematurely damaged condensate pumping equipment and system piping. Add the cost of wasted water and any water treatment/softner and feed pump wear and tear. Explain that it is the team's responsibility to keep health care costs down, a preventative maintainence program for the steam heating system is a necessity for cost efficient facility operations.
  • NoelJ
    NoelJ Member Posts: 3
    steam traps

    Thanks for all the good info guys. I should have stressed it is a two pipe vacuum system. I did have a survey done and I have tons of steam blowing from my vents. I explained the whole deal to my director on how maintaining an old steam system is important. I read an article years ago ( I thought on this site ) that averaged one 1/2" thermostatic trap blowing by would waste approximately $10,000 annually in fuel ? I'm sure that number is way up with todays prices. Thanks again and keep up the good work !
  • Brad White_194
    Brad White_194 Member Posts: 74
    A pound of $team...

    Every lost pound of steam (water raised in temperature from 50 degrees city water to and through saturated steam at 212F) contains about 1,130 BTU's- This does not even count superheat or even saturated steam at higher pressures, maybe 100-125 PSIG for the hospital? Anyway...

    If your steam plant runs at 65% efficiency and you burn say #4 oil at 150 MBTU's per gallon and a cost of say, 3.50 a gallon, just a guess, each gallon of oil burned will make about 86 lbs. of steam. Your cost per pound would be about four cents.

    A 3/16" orifice at a 2.0 PSIG differential will pass over 14 PPH at a cost (by my figuring) of 56 cents per hour.

    A 1/4" orifice is over 25 PPH so call it a dollar. Per hole. Per hour.

    The attached you may find helpful.

    Good Luck!

    p.s. I would echo the sentiments about not proclaiming an actual savings but trap maintenance is essential as you know.

    I mean, suppose Captain E.J. Smith of the Titanic asked, "What is the relative payback on fixing that leak below the starboard bow?"
  • Elmer Fudd
    Elmer Fudd Member Posts: 8
    Steam trap savings

    is not an easy number to come up with. ALot of questions to do it right.

    How many traps?
    what kind?
    what size?

    operational hours. a steam trap for heating will need to operate less than one for sterilizers or domestic water heat exchangers.

    is the steam being vented a good size plume or just a whisper or small amount of steam. a small amount is not unusual.

    I find the savings numbers to be overstated and seem to be based on a single leaking steam trap or hole to atmosphere. In reality a leaking steam trap will pressurize the condensate piping and change the pressure for other traps. You also have steam and condensate not just steam.

    Besides being bad, some traps leak due to their constant operation and the seats have been scored or "wire draw" They may even work ok.

    Steam control valves will also change the pressure and steam loss.

    Steam traps are oversized and the orfice size may give the maximum steam loss possible.

    The steam devices may also still be heating which reduces the amount of steam loss.

    Factor, factors, factors. if you come up with a huge savings (1/2 of you gas bill) then it is probably wrong.

    Steam trap testing from a good company(some vendors) helps and you can do some yourself. all test methods have their flaws. do not replace only "the bad ones" replace/rebuild them all, label when they were changed on the valve and make a map of size, type and location for future. when you have done the traps you will be able to tell if even one trap is bad (or if you missed one trap in some far away crawl space.) some vendors will do the survey and figure saving but do not waste their time if will give the project to someone else.

    some engineers(i am an engineer and sorry guys and gals and do not send me your rebuttals) are all right but steam in most places is dying (or dead) and alot of the old timers who really knew how to put these together are dead, retired or senile. they can help do the survey, come up with counts, quantities, savings and help you to bid it out if that is what you want to do.

    while you are at it look for leaking valves, fittings. this is a direct loss to the atmosphere that goes on continuously.

    There are lost of reasons to do steam traps as others have said.

    I hate volunteer this but I have several spread sheets I have collected over the years that figure savings. some can be nasty to follow. they all come down to estimates on number of bad traps. would be willing to send to you if you send me your email address. I DO NOT GUARANTEE THE SAVINGS from these (garbage in - garbage out)

    PS: most of the steam traps used (thermostatic, float and thermostatic, bucket) work well and have not really changed in forever. I would stick with these instead of converting to another kind.
    if you really wanted to get fancy they have monitoring systems($$$ - good for some industrial) for steam traps that go to a computer.
  • Rich Kontny_3
    Rich Kontny_3 Member Posts: 562
    Barnes and Jones

    Contact Barnes and Jones for resources regarding trap maintenance. You can go to their website or contact them :

    bnsebitt@barnesand jones.com


    I have in the past sat in on seminars ran by their reps they should be able to provide more than adequate backup.

    Good luck!

    Rich Kontny
  • Sometimes I wonder.....

    If the traps are not necessary for the proper and efficient operation of the system, they would have never been installed in the first place. Its like saying I don't want to put new tires on my car, even though they are all flat.
    BTW Are orifice plates an option to eliminate the traps?


    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • NoelJ
    NoelJ Member Posts: 3
    old building

    I'm getting some real good feed back from everyone and it's greatly appreciated. I work for Lowell General Hospital in Mass. for those of you who don't know it's where our industrial revolution began and in my book the beginning of steam power mills. The hospital was founded in 1891 and has become one of the premier community hospitals in the country for its services. The building in question was built in 1937 and is a two pipe vacuum system. I just want a calculation of my savings per trap per hour ? I know there's a formula somewhere ?
  • Brad White_194
    Brad White_194 Member Posts: 74
    In my post and

    the attachment I posted with it, can get you started.

    I know Lowell General- good rep!
  • John T_3
    John T_3 Member Posts: 34
    Fuel Savings

    I'm not sure if this helps but here is an address for the Tunstall Corp.


    John Taylor

    Custom Climate Systems, Inc.

    Dexter, MI
This discussion has been closed.