During the summer months, it is easy to overlook the approaching winter. However, it is important to be proactive and take preventive action now. Winter brings with it an increased demand for energy, especially in factories that need to heat their buildings to provide a comfortable working environment. More importantly, with the inevitable arrival of cold temperatures, pipelines, tanks, instruments, and other industrial process equipment will once again become targets of freezing temperatures. To avoid unpleasant surprises, make sure that your electric heat tracing systems are in good shape. To prepare for the harsh reality of winter, follow this checklist to help you protect your plant and product against the elements.
Check Your Industrial Facility
- Heat Tracing Components
- Damaged or improperly installed components can result in water ingress, corrosion or the loosening of electrical connections. Check the components against installation documentation to confirm that the installation is correct. Ensure that all component locations are marked with the Electrical Connection labels supplied with the kit.
- Thermostat or Controller
- A thermostat or controller will allow you to optimize your energy usage while keeping your processes running at the correct temperature. Review settings and alarms to ensure that they are set properly and perform all basic maintenance procedures as stated in product operation and maintenance manuals.
- No insulation or wet insulation can render electric heat tracing completely ineffective. Visually inspect all lines for missing, damaged or wet insulation. If weatherproof cladding is being used to protect the insulation from the environment, then it must also be checked for continuity.
- Cold lead Wire and Conduit (between pipe and junction box)
- Visually inspect the cold lead for damages
- Visually inspect the conduit (if installed) for openings, damaged or missing components and low point drains.
Test the Elements of Your System
- Insulation Resistance Test on all Heat Tracing Circuits
- Perform an insulation resistance (IR) test on each heat tracing circuit as detailed in product installation and maintenance manuals. Confirm that values are consistent with product specifications indicated to verify the integrity of the heating cable.
- All Ground-Fault Breakers
- All ground-fault breakers should be tested according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Power Supply Test
- Testing the power supply system will allow you to validate that the power output of the heat tracing system matches the power output of the original design. Refer to product installation and maintenance manuals for test procedures and to verify that values are consistent with product specifications.
- Installation and Maintenance Records
- Complete installation and maintenance records allow you to verify what system tests have been completed, the original electrical values, etc. This information can be valuable in determining if the system is operating properly over time, and it is mandatory to keep these files up-to-date, for when external safety audits are done on your plant, or when incidents are investigated
Make Sure There is Extra Stock
- Critical Components and Cable
- If, after completing all of the above checks, you should still have a failure of your electric heat tracing system, then stocking spare components and cable will allow for timely repairs or replacements. All Installation and Maintenance Manuals can direct you in the repair or replacement of heat tracing system components.
Ensuring the safety of your employees and the continuous operations of your facility is essential when preparing your factory for winter. With a proactive approach to winter preparedness, you can navigate the winter season smoothly and maintain uninterrupted operations in your factory. Learn more about protecting your plant during winter.