Category Archive: Process Piping

Freeze Protection of Piping

Freeze protection of water piping located outside or exposed to cold temperatures requires planning and adherence to proper specifications. Thermal insulation alone, even when applied correctly and in the proper thickness, does not necessarily prevent freezing. All electrical heat tracing manufacturers provide a specific heat loss calculation chart for selecting the proper heat trace wattage, based on the pipe diameter and insulation thickness. It is important to use the correct wattage rating from these charts.

The most common wattages used for freeze protection of water piping are 3, 5, and 8 watts per foot. In some instances, 10 and 15 watts per foot may be required. Small-diameter piping (3 inches or less), hung horizontally, is more susceptible to freezing than vertical piping of the same diameter, however, both should be treated equally for the protection of the entire system. Flanges, valves, and instrumentation all must have the electric tracing looped or installed properly to eliminate cold spots or gaps in the system. Environmental factors such as wind speed, minimum ambient temperature, and the location of the piping can require a different level of protection (e.g. piping located on a roof vs. buried in the ground).

Fortunately, many regions of the Mid-Atlantic where Waco operates, do not experience long extended periods of below-freezing temperatures. However, a polar vortex situation like the one that occurred around Christmas in 2022 did not take long to cause serious problems for many businesses and factories.

What are the piping systems that are most susceptible to freezing?

  • Hydronic water piping on HVAC units and cooling towers
  • Makeup water piping and exposed plumbing
  • Wastewater piping at Water Treatment Plants
  • Water piping at Pump Stations or Industrial facilities

The main type of electric tracing for freeze protection is called self-regulating (SR) and is designed to operate with demand, fluctuating or increasing the wattage as the temperature drops. Another type of electric tracing is Constant Wattage (CW), which is commonly used to maintain a constant specified temperature in water or liquids of a process system. Heat tracing can be powered by any of the voltages commonly found in commercial or industrial facilities (120, 208, 240, and 277) but must be ordered for the specific voltage available.

Insulation contractors like Waco, Inc. are very capable of effectively installing SR electric heat tracing and providing the proper insulation and weather barrier jacketing systems. It is a complete package that clients find more cost-effective than getting separate bids for heat tracing and insulation from different contractors. A qualified electrician is required to make the final connection to the power source on any system involved. Waco works with several electrical contractors to ensure that the tracing is properly installed and that junction boxes and thermostats are located in such a way to reduce the lengths of conduit needed to power them. Sometimes heat tracing may need to be located in a hazardous environment, which would require Class 1, 2, or 3 explosion-proof electrical enclosures. Waco can provide systems with additional ground fault protection, in addition to heat trace cable manufactured with corrosion-resistant material or non-sparking, non-metallic design.

Any thermal insulation system must be properly installed so that the heat tracing can perform as designed. Adequate protection from the weather is critical. Waco has decades of experience with heat-trace systems, and we continually train our workforce on proper installation techniques. You can be assured that we will provide a complete system that performs and protects, reducing your worries during the winter months and throughout the year. Don’t wait until cold weather arrives. Contact Waco for your next heat tracing project.

What’s the Difference Between Process Piping and Plumbing?

Insulated process piping

Piping systems can be broadly divided into two categories: process piping and plumbing. When selecting the right piping for your operation, it is important to understand which piping you need for your application. Both process piping and plumbing offer unique benefits, and each must comply with specific industry standards and material requirements, depending on their use.

What is Process Piping?

Process piping refers to the system of tubes, pipes, hoses, valves, flanges, fittings, gaskets, and other components specifically used in manufacturing and conversion operations. Process piping arrays are specifically used to mix, separate, transport, and otherwise control the flow of fluids from one point to another. Most manufacturing processes require process pi

ping to facilitate the conversion of raw materials into finished products such as beverages, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and paper products.

Process piping is used to convey gases and liquids for a wide range of industries and applications, including:

  • Oil and Gas Processing
  • Chemical Manufacturing
  • Food and Beverage Processing
  • Power and COGEN Plants
  • Paper Mills
  • Plastic Manufacturing
  • Brewing Applications
  • Aerospace and Automotive Manufacturing
  • Wastewater and Water Treatment
  • Semiconductor Manufacturing

Since process piping is in direct contact with a product that could be acidic, caustic, corrosive, or toxic, it is manufactured in a variety of materials. These include 304 or 316 stainless steel, Inconel, fiberglass resin, chrome moly, heavy wall carbon steel, and many others. In some cases, the actual pipe is internally lined with a glass, plastic or epoxy coating for protection.

plumbingWhat is Plumbing Piping?

Most of the utility systems and equipment in a commercial building or home are connected with piping that is considered plumbing. This would typically include piping to showers, faucets, toilets and drains. Common materials used in plumbing systems are copper, carbon steel, brass, PVC, CPVC, and other plastic types.

Process Piping vs. Plumbing: Key Differences

Plumbing systems must comply with a variety of codes, regulations, and industry standards for installation, maintenance, and inspection. Plumbing is typically found in heating and cooling, waste removal, and water distribution operations. In order to meet regulatory standards for corrosion resistance and strength, copper and plastic are the most popular plumbing materials. Plumbing equipment must also be built to comply with standards specific to its intended use.

There are two primary differences between process piping and plumbing. These include:

  • Building Codes. While detailed building codes govern the materials, size, and configuration of plumbing within a facility or system, process piping must meet far fewer requirements. Process piping is less regulated and can be designed with materials that are particularly suitable for the process application at the engineer’s discretion.
  • Purpose. Plumbing and process piping have different purposes. For example, if your system is used to transport water to the facility and move wastewater away, it is a plumbing system. If your piping system conveys, mixes, or removes chemicals, water, gases, and other fluids that are incorporated into or in direct contact with the finished product, it is process piping.

Process Piping Contractor Services at Waco, Inc.

Waco, Inc. specializes in the development of custom piping systems for heavy industrial processes where reliability and dependability are a must. Our superior craftsmanship, consistent performance, and attention to our in-house quality assurance guidelines create an exceptionally precise piping system guaranteed to meet the needs of even the most complex applications. We maintain records for complete verification and testing of materials and components to ensure optimal compliance.

Our extensive selection of piping services includes:

  • Custom Spooling
  • Sanitary Stainless Steel
  • Air / Instrumentation
  • Large and Small Bore Piping
  • Extensive In-House Fabrication / Storage
  • Process Skid Packages
  • Hi Purity Systems
  • Natural Gas and Fuel Piping
  • Shutdowns / Outages
  • Steam / Condensate Piping (R-Stamp)

Process Piping Experience

Waco, Inc. is the go-to provider for complex industrial process piping projects. Since 1963, we have served businesses, industries, and institutions while completing complex projects for some of the nation’s largest, most established Fortune 500 companies. We have decades of experience, adhere to safety and regulatory standards, and maintain a reputation for completing complex jobs on time and on budget. This makes us the company of choice for custom piping solutions, from design through completion. For more information on our process piping capabilities, contact us today or request a proposal for your next project.