Heat-trace is used in many aspects of everyday modern life that mostly goes unnoticed. One main example of this is the ability to access hot water quickly from any faucet in a large building no matter how far from the water heater it is. This is a function of a building’s Hot Water Maintenance system. heat-trace is just part of a comprehensive Hot Water Maintenance system. Other components of a Hot Water Maintenance are the water heater, hot water storage tanks, a circulation loop and a pressure release.
Hot Water Maintenance is important for many reasons, one of the most important reasons is to sanitize. Hot water helps to prevent diseases, like Legionnaires Disease by killing the bacteria that causes it and preventing it from multiplying within the pipes. Water that is too hot can lead to injury. It is important to have the temperature set within a safe range. Keeping the water hot throughout the pipes will also reduce water and energy waste by not having to run the water before reaching the hot water.
Heat-Trace systems consist of a heat cable (heat tape) and control. There are two types of heat cable, self-regulating and constant wattage. Self-regulating cable does what it says, it regulates itself to an extent. It does this with a special conductive material core between two bus wires. The core’s conductive nature varies with temperature, the cooler it gets the more conductive it becomes which increases the heat the cable gives off, the warmer it gets the less conductive it becomes resulting in the cable giving off less heat. Constant wattage heat cable provides a uniform distribution of wattage, resulting in uniform heating along the whole cable. Self-regulating cable will save energy, where constant wattage cable will heat in a more uniform precise way. Both self-regulating and constant wattage heat cable require a heat-trace control unit to regulate the temperature and monitor and alarm for errors.
Hot Water Maintenance systems are a hardly noticed element of our everyday lives that make our modern lifestyle possible. Heat-trace is a critical component of these systems, keeping the water hot within the pipes. Next time you are in a building pay attention to the hot water and think about what makes that possible.