Simple Solutions

Locating steam leaks Problem: You are sure that there is a steam trap leaking in a hard-to-reach area.
By Staff April 1, 2000

Locating steam leaks

Problem: You are sure that there is a steam trap leaking in a hard-to-reach area. But how can you figure out which one of the many it is?

Solution: Pick up a spray bottle and fill it with water. Set the bottle’s nozzle to throw a stream that reaches the discharge side of the traps in the area. If the water steams when it hits the return line, the trap needs repair.

Contributor: Charles Ingels, Mt. Prospect, IL

Taking “ownership”

Problem: A flange was leaking and a maintenance staffer was sent out to repair the problem. All too often, the problem soon redeveloped. Is there a way to eliminate the return visit?

Solution: Make sure the initial repair person takes responsibility for the work. The craftsperson responsible for the original action should place a piece of duct tape on the flange (or numerous other types of equipment) and write his/her name and date on it when the job is completed. The repair person then assumes “ownership” of the repair and is held accountable for any future leaks or problems. This approach has significantly reduced our return visits to problem sites.

Contributor: Frederick J. Goodall, Controls Specialist, Kellogg Brown & Root Industrial Services, Brunswick, GA

Fixing heat exchanger tubes

Problem: Hammering a plug into the end of a leaking heat exchanger tube can deform the tubesheet enough to create a small leak in adjacent tubes. Is there a way to reduce the chances of creating new leaks while plugging and repairing the initial leaking tube?

Solution: Hand push plugs into each of the tubes adjacent to the leaker. Then hammer a plug into the end of the leaking tube. The plugs next to the leaker help distribute the stresses around the adjacent tubes and reduce the chance of creating a new leak.

Simply remove the temporary plugs by hand or with pliers when the repair is finished.

Contributor: Van Richard, PE, Georgia Gulf Corp., Plaquemine, LA