Steam Trap Testing with Infrared and Ultrasound Devices

Steam Trap Testing with Infrared and Ultrasound Devices

It’s estimated 10% of steam traps fail each year. If you have a failed steam trap you could be losing both steam and money. But replacing a functioning steam trap because of a faulty test could be just as costly. In this article, we’ll discuss infrared and ultrasound devices, and how to utilize them properly to make an educated decision with your steam traps.

Infrared Guns and Temperature

A common way to take measurements on a steam trap is with an infrared gun. Using an infrared gun you can take measurements on the inlet and outlet, but this won’t tell you much about what’s happening inside the trap. You can tell you if the trap is hot or cold, but you won’t be provided with any additional insight into how well the trap is functioning.

Often, your measurements will really represent the back-pressure on the line. The steam trap could be working properly or blowing through, and it’d be difficult to tell the difference using only an infrared gun. What’s needed here is a testing device that can determine what’s happening inside of the trap.

Ultrasound Devices and More Accurate Readings

An ultrasound test device provides an accurate reading when used directly on the steam trap, and can help you determine if your trap is functionally properly. Steams traps have to let condensation through as quickly as possible, while simultaneously retaining steam. A correctly functioning steam trap will open and close frequently, which may be undetectable to humans (especially in a loud industrial setting) but can be accurately picked up by ultrasound devices. If you determine your trap is faulty, you can then use an infrared gun to test the inlet and outlet of your trap to see if it failed open or closed. 

Ready to Make Steam

A combination of infrared temperature testing of ultrasound testing is the best way to ensure your steam traps are functioning properly, and to catch malfunctioning steam traps that need to be replaced. If you need to replace a steam trap, need assistance, or just want to learn more, contact us and check out our offering of replacement parts at

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