As winter weather approaches, operators and plant management must remain vigilant in preventing freezing of their equipment. Frozen piping systems can result in ruptures and leaks that have devastating consequences, costly downtime, and unplanned outages.
There are many piping systems used to transport water or other liquids that are exposed to cold weather at most plants. They may be directly exposed to the weather by being located outside, or in some cases, they are installed in areas of the plant that are not heated. If the weather becomes cold enough, the contents of those pipes containing water or other liquids may freeze and expand, which can cause the pipes to burst. Depending on the system, a ruptured pipe may force the entire plant to be shut down. Steps should be taken to ensure equipment is not damaged during cold weather through the use of:
Operators and management must ensure that whatever means of freeze protection they have available to them are prepared for operations before it is too late. Failure to ensure these systems are properly aligned and placed in service can have catastrophic consequences. One way to ensure these systems are operated and brought online properly is through the use of detailed operations and maintenance procedures.