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How to detect failed steam traps

I am a building manager of a 105 unit residential apartment building in Queens, NY.  I have learned that the temperature of the condensate in my boiler room is very high and indicates that there are multiple steam traps that are failed in the open position.  What is the best method to detect failed steam traps? Thermal imaging sounds pretty expensive.


  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Thermal Imaging

    can be had for under $1,000 now http://www.flir.com/thermography/americas/us/view/?id=61194

    You can rent or hire a pro, but with 105 units, I'd want one in the family if not actually on site.
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,231
    edited October 2013
    That's how I do it.


    'cept my camera cost three grand.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    And just a few short years ago

    the least expensive ones were what, $7k?
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    IR Cameras

    Hi- I use an IR thermometer to test traps though I agree with the other posts that on a system the size of what you have, an IR camera would be the way to go. Rather than just take temperature readings, you can visually show people what the problem is. This really helps convince the accounting dept that the "fix" is justified,

    There are also a lot of other uses for IR cameras. They're handy to spot trouble before it happens as they can detect problems like overheating circuit breakers in an electrical panel.
  • moneypitfeeder
    moneypitfeeder Member Posts: 249
    really low tech...

    I just put my ear next to my traps with my hands cupped, I can hear the trap open and close. I don't know if they are all audible, but in my old vapor system, I could determine in one was opening and closing by hearing at steam startup almost a rushing wind noise, then the dropping of water drops, as the steam hit the tops of the rad and condensed, and then there was a definite difference when the trap closed. Might not be practical with as many as you have to deal with, but it is cheap!

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