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Updated: Jan 31

Organizations that depend on steam to power their processes are realizing the importance and challenge of scheduling regular steam trap testing. Here is the steam trap inspection checklist to get the best results.

by Isabell Berry

The Department of Energy estimates that 8-15% of steam traps fail annually. A failed trap is impossible to diagnose by sight or sound as the failure evidence is encased inside the pipes and traps. The exception is when closed failures cause explosions, like the one in Ontario a few years ago where a 100-ft section of 24" pipe filled with 54,000 lbs of condensate water, and when it burst it was thrown half a mile due to the strength of the hammer.

Most facilities test all of their traps on a regular basis, varying from every few hours to every few months to as little as once a year. This, however, is a costly and time consuming task and the accuracy of these manual tests is very low. To ensure maximum benefit of steam trap testing we have come up with a little steam trap preventative maintenance checklist:

  1. To ensure maximum accuracy, the test should include temperature, visual, and sound readings. Records should be kept of readings from all tests to allow the inspector to have the context that will help to determine if the trap is failed or not.

  2. The next point of our steam trap inspection checklist is that testing should be done once a month for traps between 50 psi and 150 psi. Once a quarter for traps under 50 psi, and weekly for traps over 150 psi. The reason for this is that steam at higher psi produces less condensate but poses greater danger in case of explosion. Open failures in traps at lower psi don’t cost as much on a daily basis but , and closed failures tend to be much less dangerous.

  3. To determine whether it is an open failure it is recommended that you use both ultrasound and temperature data. In the case of an open failure, you will see that the delta between temperature above the steam trap and in the condensate line, will usually diminish. Additionally, you won’t be able to hear the trap opening and closing anymore. 

  4. To diagnose a closed failure you may find that both pipe and condensate temperatures decrease significantly, you may find that temperatures become reversed, you may find a large increase in sound, or no change at all. 

  5. The best way to diagnose open and closed failures is through the use of an artificial intelligence engine that can analyze all data points including psi, orifice size, type of trap, as well as reference historical data and data of traps in the same system and in the vicinity. 

6. In addition to auditing whether or not the trap is failed, it is good practice in steam trap inspections to regularly assess the other trap data (size, type of trap, and pressure). All measurements should be reviewed to assess whether the trap chosen is best suited for that location and function.

7. Another point worth noting in the steam trap inspection checklist is that it is important that inspectors wear protective clothing, glasses and gloves. Pipes may be hot, and the most dangerous steam leaks may be invisible as they are above the temperature of condensation.   

8. A steam trap failure will affect more than just the trap itself. It will cause traps around it to work harder, it could cause temperature and/or pressure to decrease in the entire system or areas close to the failure. A steam trap failure may cause the boiler to have to work harder and potentially reduce the life expectancy of the boiler. A steam trap failure could have significant effects on the processes closest to it; for example, if a steam trap that is located just after an essential internal process fails, it could create issues for that entire process as it could be under-served in power, or not be able to maintain a stable or sufficiently high temperature. When checking steam traps, it is beneficial to check any changes in steam temperature, pressure, or sound in all steam traps in the vicinity as well.  


This is a steam trap maintenance checklist that we have created in our experience talking to hundreds of organizations that use steam, as well as discussions with steam auditors, steam system manufacturers, safety inspectors and more. Ultimately, some of the challenges around steam trap testing was what led Pulse CEO Thomas Uhlenbruck to focus on steam trap IoT sensors in the first place. He saw the need for a real time steam trap monitoring solution.

The complexity of actually determining failures required an AI backend that the team worked on for years to ensure a much more accurate failure detection than any form of manual testing can achieve. It is encouraging that more organizations are understanding the need for frequent steam trap testing; when they see how easy and reasonably priced steam trap monitoring can be, it isn't a very big leap to bring Pulse on board.     

Updated: Jan 26

Connecting devices and collecting data to improve efficiency and optimize processes has become table stakes in today's competitive landscape.

Why Automate Inspections

by Isabell Berry

Each data access point can increase the security risk and is a huge concern for your IT department. Rightly so, data infractions are not generally good for business. It is essential that organizations vet the security measures that vendors put into place before implementing any systems software or hardware into their premises. 


Evaluating and categorizing the risk of different data sources should always be an integral part of planning. Some obvious examples of high risk data include patient records in a healthcare facility or client info moving through financial institutions. Many organizations segment and isolate those types of information to instantly detect and avoid leaks as well as breaches, but many other types of data can offer vulnerabilities that can be exploited. One of the greatest threats to IoT security is the lack of encryption on regular transmissions. There is a huge amount of data that is being produced, skipping the encryption because of the nature and scope of that data could be a costly mistake. 

IoT data may be lower risk but these systems have the capacity to be a conduit to access other data if they are nor secured. These are 3 other measures that we have seen to ensure IoT implementations maintain security: 


1. Use a stand-alone network that doesn't integrate with other systems at your organization

2. Ensure that all devices are properly identified and catalogued so rogue devices cannot be added without authorization

3. Have access levels assigned to let users be defined as admin vs read only and implement password safety protocols 



Pulse's steam trap monitoring solution has incorporated these security measures and more, at every layer:

  • The application layer is protected with an SSL encryption certificate plus user access, user access also can be configured for level and location

  • The cloud layer has heavy 3rd party encryption and can only be accessed by Pulse Admin team

  • The communication layer is a standalone network that has no access to other organization data. Properties that are supported in LoRaWAN security include mutual authentication, integrity protection and confidentiality. LoRaWAN is one of the few IoT networks implementing end-to-end encryption utilizing AES appkey identifiers.  

  • The hardware layer transmits all data with strong encryption and certificates on both ends, employing a unique AES key for each block cipher.

Pulse takes security very seriously, the Pulse solution employs state-of-the-art security protocols. One more reason why Pulse is the trusted steam trap monitoring solution in so many industry-leading organizations throughout North America.   

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Case Study Medical Centre


Case Study Medical Centre

A hospital processes 25,000 medical devices every day. The processing is done by 120 employees and is a key component in reducing the amount of refuse produced by the hospital. It is essential that these instruments are completely free of any contaminates and germs. Steam is considered to be an excellent way to accomplish that but suddenly they noticed staining on some of the trays. 150 operations were cancelled while the cause was investigated.

The process of elimination led to a speedy solution being found.


Their PulseView Dashboard quickly ruled out the steam traps and crews could focus on other aspects of the steam system. They were then able to continue to narrow down the cause of the staining, fix it quickly and resume operating procedures.

“They also found failed traps on non-monitored traps and will be adding Pulse onto those as well”


  • Time is of the essence when people’s health and well-being are at stake

  • The cost of having Pulse monitors on all their traps is extremely insignificant when weighed against the money lost when operations are cancelled

  • Patient experience is an important goal for the hospital, they did not want to disappoint patients who may have been waiting for some time for procedures already

  • Steam trap monitoring helps maintain steam system health in addition to helping save money and reduce emissions which is an area that hospitals are currently struggling with

  • Steam is used to sterilize instruments but also to heat and humidify the hospital itself, it is integral to the functioning of many aspects of the hospital

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