Edmonton Valve & Fitting Blog

Weekly posts for northern and central Alberta engineers, plant operators, and buyers.

Whacky Alberta Weather Calls for Wise Winterizing

by Katie Reid, on Thu, Oct 25, 2018 @ 15:10 PM

Low temperatures can mean ruptured tubing and other problems. Here are four free resources to help you winterize... and avoid crises.


winterization group

We have tips to help you prep your facility for cold weather, including three videos (described and linked to below) and a new PDF flyer.

Winterization Checklist


Record heat, record cold, record precipitation, and more

Headlines about unusual weather are common these days, as record after record is broken for heat, cold, snow, and other meteorological events. And while we can't predict weather, we can help you cut risk by taking proven steps to winterize your operation.

"People understand they have to winterize, but most of the time it becomes a reactive procedure rather than proactive," says Tristian McCallion, local field service advisor for Edmonton Valve & Fitting. "People just sort of forget about it, then all of a sudden October hits and they say, 'Oh yes, we meant to do that.' But really, you should already have the work done by the time you start thinking about bringing your winter jacket out."

New PDF provides winterization tips at a glance

If you aren't sure where to start when you are beginning your winterization process at your plant, look no further than our "Fluid Systems Winterization Checklist." This document will help you with your initial sweep of your facility and what you key indicators you should be looking for in determining your needs. Download your free copy here and get started!

Winterization tips by and for pros

Three videos feature McCallion discussing winterization best-practices: The first one, "Tracing," covers the basics of using heat tracing systems to keep pipes from freezing. The second one, "Steam Tracing Trap Stations & Trap Testing," looks at steam trap stations for tracing. And the third one, "Unit Heaters," addresses unit heaters and different applications. 

Which is better, jacketing or tracing?

Tracing is based on a simple principal: The amount of heat energy that needs to be added to process fluids must equal to the amount of heat energy that is being lost due to low surrounding temperatures. That can be accomplished in a couple of ways. Process valves and other components can be jacketed. That gives a large heat-transfer area, and they are relatively easy to install. But the installation costs are relatively high and the jacket makes it harder to see failure points.

One alternative is to use a bare tube attached to the line. They are easy to install and maintain, and they are reliable. What you sacrifice is the amount of heat transfer surface area.

In the "Tracing" video we cover material selection and design. For instance, condensate is drained from steam tracer systems by gravity. A good design will be free of low spots in the tracer run, and not wrap around the tubing.

We also will cover system startups. Even with the best steam system design, starting it up improperly can create water hammer.

What is best way to test steam traps?

Steam systems need to trap any condensate. Most industrial plants have some type of steam traps, but they get caught in a dilemma: The technology is so reliable that companies don't think much about it. As older workers retire, they may not pass along their knowledge to younger workers. Then when a problem does arise, the staff is stumped. In the "Steam Tracing Trap Stations & Trap Testing" video you'll get a look at the essentials, such as the best way to test steam traps.

How do we maximize a unit heaters' efficiency?

The third video, "Unit Heaters," covers unit heaters. While they are simple devices, people sometimes have misconceptions about how to get the best performance from them. For instance, a higher temperature setting doesn't actually mean you'll get warmer, McCallion says. He explains how to maximize efficiency and goes into their component parts, such as whether propeller fans or blower fans are better for a particular application. (Blowers are generally quieter, by the way.)


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