Building Steam Trap Condition Monitoring

by | Dec 19, 2023 | Predictive Maintenance, Steam Trap Analysis

ATS’ building steam trap condition monitoring program enables significant operating cost reduction and also contributes to greenhouse gas reduction and reduced global heating.  This is achieved through reduction or elimination of wasteful fuel consumption to heat buildings when faulty steam traps are fixed or replaced.

Steam is probably the least appreciated but arguably the most common means of transferring heat from one place to another in the world.  Steam’s most visible uses have been powering our mobility and heating many of our buildings for the last couple of centuries.

While most don’t realize it, steam is used to make the overwhelming majority of all the electricity generated in the world today.  We tend to focus more on the fuel used to boil the water that makes the steam, like coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium, instead of thinking about what actually spins the turbine generators that make the electricity we use.  Without steam, nearly all of us would be living in the dark.

A certain amount of steam in all systems is lost to condensation.  This happens naturally when the steam in the piping gives up its heat to do work or warm the environment.  Condensed water has no place in a steam system so we invented the STEAM TRAP to remove that condensate and periodically dump it back towards the boiler.

Steam traps are relatively simple, mechanical devices that work automatically.  But they can easily become sources of waste and inefficiency when they fail in the open position.  Instead of just dumping condensate and then closing, they remain open and allow a direct path for steam to be short-circuited into the condensate system and back towards the boiler.  This results in needing more energy to meet the demand, reducing the amount of steam available to deliver the heat to where it is needed, and adding excess unnecessary carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Steam trap industry experts estimate that the average functional lifespan of a steam trap is approximately three to five years.  This means that on a conservative average, at least 20% of all steam traps in a facility are likely to fail every year.

We are in the ideal time of year here in North America (this being written in late November) to start steam trap condition monitoring activities because we are entering the season where significant heat is demanded.  This is the season when the most significant losses due to steam trap failure will be realized in the building management use case.

Global fuel price volatility makes exact monetary benefits difficult to calculate and publish, so we leave the dollars and cents up to you to calculate based on your specific cost of energy.  Note that the overwhelming majority of steam used in building heating applications is produced by burning fossil fuels.  The numbers below present the energy needed and the excess carbon dioxide produced to replace the heat energy lost due to failed steam traps.  These numbers are conservative because they are based on 100% efficiency from the fuel entering the boiler transferring heat to the steam and it traveling through the distribution piping, fittings, and valves, to the point where it is lost through the failed trap.  No system is 100% efficient, so your energy savings and CO2 reductions can be expected to be significantly greater than the numbers tabulated below.

Condensate Discharge Orifice SizeHeating System Steam PressureWasted BTUs Per YearExcess CO2 Emissions (#perYear)
1/32″1 psig1,966,190321
1/32″20 psig4,219,954690
1/8″1 psig30,581,5594,999
1/8″20 psig67,878,40511,095
1/4″1 psig122,326,23619,994
1/4″20 psig271,513,62044,379

Think about how many steam traps exist in your building(s) and the fact that at least 20% can be expected to have failed every year and how quickly your energy consumption and carbon footprint increase over time by not being addressed.

Instead of just burning money and greenwashing away your carbon footprint, how about reaching out to ATS to help cut your fuel costs and benefit planet Earth?

Building steam trap condition monitoring can lead to significant savings.  The best time to identify faulty steam traps is during the heating season, when system use is in its highest demand.  Of course, the best time to do the repair work is during the summer when heating demand is lowest.  The best compromise is to do steam trap condition monitoring when heating demand still exists but is leading to the time when you can take the system out of service without compromising the comfort of those who work in the space every day.

Give ATS a call at 866.398.9778 or email us at to schedule your steam trap condition monitoring service visit so that we can get the best data to help you improve your fuel efficiency and lower your cost and carbon footprint.  We’ll come to your site and do a STEAM TRAP SURVEY to find your failed open steam traps.

We’ll find ‘em, you fix ‘em or replace ‘em.  The planet and your stakeholders will thank you.


Subscribe to Our Blog

We regularly write a blog about Predictive Maintenance and the technologies used in PdM programs. Give us your email address and we’ll make sure you get a copy in your inbox each time we publish a new post.


We also post each blog article on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 Follow our LinkedIn Company Page      

Related Blogs


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.