How can I tell if my steam traps are bad?
Steam traps from time to time may fail. However, trap failure is not always easy to detect as steam may be blowing back into the pipe. Many experts agree that the best way to test a trap is to install test valves below the steam trap. If steam or nothing comes out of the test valve, then the trap is blown, however is condensate comes out, then the trap is working properly.
Another extremely accurate way of testing traps is to use ultrasonic detection. Ultrasonic detectors translate ultrasonic emissions into sounds the human ear can hear. Technicians that use these detectors on a daily basis have an extremely high rate of accuracy. Someone with experience in using this technique should be consulted.
The reason that these methods are most often recommended as opposed to temperature measurements, is because of the many different variables in the piping systems that may give inaccurate results about the traps efficiencey such as back pressure or strainer and valve problems.