A Connecticut university used to have a serious energy loss problem. One example of this was a valve in the mechanical room. Although hard RESIDENTIAL SPRAY FOAM INSULATION SERVICES Dallas TX was dug out to form the shape of the valve, it still left the valve bonnet exposed, leading to significant heat loss. The temperature of the valve bonnet was 224 degrees. After installing a removable insulation cover, the surface temperature was reduced to 105 degrees. The removable insulation prevented the valve bonnet from losing 500 BTUs an hour, resulting in a savings of roughly $450 a year. And that’s just one valve!
Choosing the Right Type of Insulation
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to industrial pipe insulation. Hard or conventional insulation works well for mechanical components that don’t require regular inspection or maintenance, such as smaller diameter pipes and fittings. On the other hand, removable insulation is ideal for valves, steam traps and large diameter steam piping, which often require the removal of insulation for regular maintenance.
When To Use Hard Insulation
Hard insulation, consisting of products such as fiberglass, calcium silicate or mineral wool, is commonly used to insulate most mechanical components such as pipes, fittings and valves. But as we saw in the previous example, it’s not always the best tool for the job. Conventional pipe insulation can come with or without an outer covering, usually consisting of a paper or foil backing. In some cases these materials are covered with either a metal or PVC jacket. Hard insulation is suitable for the following components:
When NOT To Use Hard Insulation
As noted above, conventional insulation is not well suited for mechanical components that require routine maintenance, such as valves, steam traps, flanges or large diameter steam piping. These components are rarely (or in most cases only temporarily) insulated.
In many cases valves are initially insulated. However, over time maintenance personnel strip off the insulation for inspection or maintenance. It’s not uncommon for the insulation to remain on the floor and the valve or steam trap to never get reinsulated. The surface temperature on these un-insulated components can very from a couple hundred degrees up to several hundred degrees. As a result, in some cases mechanical room temperatures have reached in excess of 120 degrees and a vast amount of energy is wasted.