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Swagelok Kansas City | Little Rock | Omaha | Quad Cities

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Focusing on Steam Systems: Your Options, Solutions and Goals

Focusing on Steam Systems

Your Options, Solutions and Goals

Steam SystemsSteam systems can be an afterthought in most processing plants. When addressing the concerns of steam leaks from the Steam Supply or Condensate Return Manifold, a frequent response is, “No worries! We’ll make more!”

However, that logic is eroding, as the cost for steam generation increases. There is a focus on ensuring steam quality and sufficient condensate removal for adequate process heating. Companies have started to address the issue of steam leaks from manifolds and develop a methodology for testing steam trap performance. All of this is critical to maintaining process heating. Let’s take a look.


  • Manifolds are typically threaded connections – a
    built-in source for leaks
  • Valves are traditional gate and globe type that are affected by cycle life, stem to seat sealing, packing issues, erosion/corrosion caused by the nature of steam and carbon steel piping, while remaining open or closed for extended periods of time, causing actuation issues
  • Steam traps are typically installed with a threaded block and bleed system, using multiple gate/globe valves and threaded connections that are a source of leaks. Often there is a single isolation valve ahead of the trap with no means to easily check the trap for proper performance


  • Reduce the wasted cost of energy to generate additional steam lost through leaks or faulty traps
  • Develop a Steam Distribution system reducing threaded connections
  • Eliminate ancient gate/globe valve technology as a source of leaks and poor performance
  • Develop an easy and cost-effective means to test traps while eliminating the existing threaded block and bleed configurations
  • Reduce leaks, line freeze ups and maintenance costs
  • Break the LDAR cycle (Leak Detection and Repair)


  • Look at an integrated steam header with welded nipples into the header and return manifold reducing the number of threaded connections
  • Integrate ball valves with live loaded seats and stem packings that will compensate for temperature changes, wear and long periods of being left open or closed
  • Use of ball valves to visually indicate valve orientation (open or closed)
  • Integrate a universal steam trap mount as part of a steam trap test valve assembly, using ball valve technology capable of testing the trap while isolating it from the Condensate Return manifold. The Steam Trap Test Valve Assembly (STTV) integrates a block valve, universal mount for the steam trap and a trap test valve as a single assembly, eliminating the traditional block and bleed valve and threaded connections

○  Two bolts to remove to change trap without disturbing any other components, lowers downtime
○  Allows plant personnel to routinely check the functioning the trap with 90-degree actuation. Eliminates costly contractors performing trap validation studies, use of ultrasonic testing equipment or temperature sensing equipment
Smaller more compact design, allowing for easier maintenance

New Manifold Concepts

  • Fabricated universal steam trees that can be supplied with welded nipples into the manifold, using integral ball valves as part of the manifold, number of supplies determined by customer required number of tracers
  • Condensate Return Manifolds can be fabricated using the same welded nipple/ ball valves as referenced above, integrating the Steam Trap Test Valve kit, either right or left direction flow as part of the return manifold
  • Supplies and Returns can be fabricated based upon customer design, system requirements or site conditions
  • Drawings shown are concepts of previously supplied Steam Distribution systems


  • Reduce the cost of energy to generate steam
  • Reduce the number of threaded connections
  • Reduce the cost of LDAR
  • Provide an easier, more reliable methodology to check steam trap performance and repair as required
  • Work performed on site vs. hired contractors or the use of expensive equipment
  • Valves designed to perform in steam service without leakage whether used frequently or not
  • Turnkey fabricated Steam Supply and Condensate Return Manifolds to meet site requirements

If you have questions about this, we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call today at 1-800-332-6693 or send us an email!

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This document was prepared by Swagelok Kansas City | Little Rock | Omaha | Quad Cities. The information and recommendations are intended as general information only, are subject to change without notice, have not been verified by Swagelok Company, and do not contain or create any warranty or guarantee regarding accuracy or completeness. Users bear responsibility for determining the suitability of information, recommendations, and products for their own use and situations. Consult catalogs on for the most current information about Swagelok products and services.