22 September 2023

Steam distribution system components | Steam Traps # 3

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Steam distribution system components

  1. Steam traps
  • What is a steam trap?
  • “Purges” condensate out of the steam system
  • Allows steam to reach destination as dry as possible
  • Steam traps must handle variations in
  • Quantity of condensate
  • Condensate temperature
  • Pressure (vacuum to > 100 bar)

Selection depends on steam trap’s ability to

  • Vent air at start-up
  • Remove condensate but not steam
  • Maximize plant performance: dry steam

Steam traps – considerations

Water hammer

  • Condensate picked up by moving steam
  • Can damage steam trap
  • Continuous slope in flow direction reduces this



  • Affects steam trap performance



  • Help remove dirt and cheaper than maintaining steam traps

Steam locking

  • Can occur in rotating machinery
  • Only float trap has ‘steam lock release’ valve


  • Installed to end of the pipe
  • Reduces sound and ferocity of flash steam discharge

Pipe sizing

  • Correct pipe size – traps affected by resistance to flow
  • Avoid pipe fittings close to trap – back pressure risk

Air venting

  • Important for system warm up and operation

Group trapping

Drain pocket dimensions

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