Process piping, fire protection systems, and HVAC units all operate in the background, ensuring your warehouse or facility is running smoothly – that is, until those systems break down. Gas leaks, burst pipes, or fire protection system failures can not only cause major disruption to your production, but can be life threatening as well. Halted production, no matter the cause, means lost revenue and increased expenses.
Luckily, these system failures can typically be mitigated with regular maintenance and scheduled service by a professional piping company, like Piping Systems, Inc. You can avoid these costly and potentially dangerous shutdowns with some of our list of the 30 Most Commonly Overlooked Piping Problems:
1. BROKEN GAUGES AND THERMOMETERS
Several catastrophic things can occur if you have broken gauges and thermometers. If your boiler system were to malfunction and create pressures and temperatures higher than normal, you may not be able to detect this if gauges malfunctioned. We’ve seen instances in which gauges were inoperable, the pressure in the system rises to an unsafe level, and the safety valves malfunction and do not relieve the pressure in the boiler or system. When this occurs, there is a high risk of explosion causing an issue of life safety.
In the case of a “wet” sprinkler system, a broken gauge would not detect a loss of pressure in the system. If the system begins to leak and the pressure decreases, the fire protection system will not deliver water to the area of the fire. In the case of a “dry” system, a loss of pressure in the system will cause the system to “trip”, introducing water to a system that is meant to be dry in order to prevent freezing. If water enters the system, the pipes may freeze, causing water damage to the facility.
These are life safety and economic problems that can easily be remedied with proper maintenance performed by a piping services professional.
2. COMPRESSED AIR LEAKS
The Department of Energy estimates that $5 billion per year is wasted on electricity due to compressed air leaks. One of the most popular connections, called “quick connects,” often leak. Even a 3/8” connection at 100 PSI can result in a very expensive leak.
3. VENT PIPING CREATING A BUILDUP OF CO2
New boiler types are vented directly to the atmosphere. If vented too far below or close to grade, high levels of snow or other obstructions can cause the vent to be blocked. If the system is not venting properly, carbon monoxide can build up in the facility. Referred to as a “silent killer,” the gas cannot be detected by smell. In industrial boiler rooms, a break in the breeching can cause the same build-up of carbon monoxide.
4. WATER TESTING
Free water testing is available online and many supply houses will do the testing for you. Water testing should be performed after all new plumbing installations, and in most cases, is required by code. In addition, the line is required to be chlorinated to ensure impurities are not present in the system.
During construction and installation, contaminants like flux and solder can be accidentally introduced to the piping system. Checking your water quality is easy and should be done periodically, even after construction.
5. WALL THICKNESS OF MECHANICAL AND FIRE PROTECTION PIPING
When piping has been in service for a long period of time, deficiencies in the system may not be evident from the outside of the piping. We recommend taking portions of the system apart to spot check the inside of the piping to ensure the integrity of the system.
Tuberculation is the development of small mounds of corrosion produced on the inside of iron pipes. This phenomenon generally occurs in water systems with iron piping. Tuberculation causes pipes to become clogged by mounds of corrosion resulting in increased pumping costs and a reduction in distribution pressure. In severe cases, it can cause leaks in the piping. Sprinkler systems are also susceptible to corrosion. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that an inspection of piping and branch line conditions be conducted every five years.
6. CO2 DETECTION IN THE BOILER ROOM
CO2 detectors are required by code for many installations, but not all. We recommend that there be a detector installed in every boiler room; even a battery-operated unit will do. It is essential to ensure the CO2 detector is always working. Even if the carbon monoxide level is at a low level and does not cause death, it can cause serious damage to your body over time. There could be high levels in your office, warehouse or facility and you may never know it. A small investment in a $30 CO2 detector can save lives.
ABOUT PIPING SYSTEMS, INC.
At Piping Systems, Inc., we work together to create memorable relationships with our clients. Our “No Headache” policy means you can always count on us to be reliable, high-performing, professional, knowledgeable and highly-efficient problem solvers.
When you hire the PSI Team, you not only get process piping, fire protection, HVAC and electrical services, you also benefit by our award-winning safety program, our commitment to community and a warranty that goes well beyond the industry standard.
Be efficient with your time, and trust Piping Systems, Inc. to be efficient with your piping project. I promise in the long run, you will be thrilled. Have any questions? Drop us an email, psi@PipingSystemsInc.com or give us a call today at 508.644.2221.