Trace Heating

Flair Facilities offer all types of trace heating to meet any property requirement

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Trace Heating Installation & Maintenance

Electric trace heating is a system used to raise or maintain the temperature of pipework and the substance it carries (usually water). Heat trace systems control the temperature by utilising cables that run along the pipework, these cables are then electrically charged to transmit heat which then warm the pipework they are attached to. The temperature output of trace heating can vary vastly depending on their intended use and can be controlled easily by installing a digital thermostat onto the heat trace system. There are 3 main types of trace heating: constant wattage, series resistance and self-regulating, with self-regulating heat tracing being the most popular due to its enhanced security and safety measures implicated into the design. For more information on the different types of trace heating available click here to read our article on the topic.

At Flair Facilities we can install and maintain all types of electric heat trace systems, covering all design and insulation formats. We always have experienced heating engineers on hand to tackle any of our clients requests, whom are Gas Safe registered and hold a wide array of qualifications allowing them to conduct work on any equipment a HVAC system may entail. All of our employees take great pride in their work and are dedicated to the Flair Facilities ethos of complete customer satisfaction achieved by a high standard of work, transparency and customer service.

Frozen Pipe - Trace Heating

Frozen pipe prevention

The main application of trace heating is to prevent pipes from freezing, which in turn prevents blockages in pipes, pipes cracking and pipes bursting. As a result, using trace heating as a method of frozen pipe prevention can avert any downtime with your heating system due to damaged pipework and also save you money repairing said pipework.

When using a heat trace system to prevent pipes from freezing over, the operational temperature of the trace heating should be set lower than it would normally be set for other applications. The temperature used to stop pipes from freezing over should be anywhere between 5°c and 15°c, this ensures the pipes are above the freezing temperature of 0°c but also not at temperature legionella bacteria can form (e.g. 20°c – 55°c). A heat trace system can be operated at a temperature above 55°c but this isn’t recommended when the trace heating is used solely to stop pipes from freezing. The reason being, as it would be an unnecessary use of energy due to the pipes only needing to be kept at a temperature above 0°c to stop them from freezing.

For more information on frozen condensate pipes, click here.

A hot water tap in a bathroom letting out hot water, creating steam

Hot water temperature maintenance

The second most common application of trace heating is to maintain the temperature of hot water inside pipework. This is done by heating the pipes to the desired temperature of output from the hot water outlets. In turn this will stop the water being transported dropping in temperature, which normally occurs due to the heat transfer between the cold pipes and hot water. By ensuring the hot water temperature is maintained, the systems efficiency will be enhanced and any lead or wait time for the hot water at the outlet will be reduced. This application is especially effective when the distance between the hot water outlets and boiler is longer than usual or if the pipework / property is in a specifically cold area.

When using a heat trace system to maintain the temperature of hot water, the operational temperature should be set to 55°c or over to prevent legionella bacteria from forming. The temperature ideally shouldn’t be above 65°c as it will then become to hot to use and could potentially scald or burn anyone that comes into contact with it.

Trace Heating FAQs

Your questions about trace heating answered

Yes trace heating can be used on plastic or PVC pipes but the output of the heat trace cables needs to be at a level it won’t overheat and damage the pipes. Aluminum tape is also often applied to the plastic pipe before installing the heat trace cables, to help the heat disperse around the pipes evenly.

Trace heating doesn’t require scheduled maintenance but we do recommend checking on heat trace systems periodically to ensure the output is consistent and at the right level. Cold spots should also be checked for or any other damage to the cable.

This is largely dependant on the type of cable or tape used. A lot of heat trace cables are resistant to water but some are not. Also most heat trace tapes aren’t resistant to water either.

Legally electrical systems can be installed by anyone who has the knowledge to do so safely, but we always recommend having a qualified electrician or trace heating engineer install the system. This is done to prevent any hazards from occurring and to ensure the work is kept in line with any insurance.

Whether trace heating will require additional insulation or lagging depends on the circumstances in which it is installed. If the trace heating is used as frost protection and the environment experiences extremely cold temperatures or sudden drops in temperature, then additional insulation or lagging may be required. If precise temperature outputs are required without fluctuation, insulation may help achieve this.

How long trace heating systems last depends on the quality of the installation, the quality of the equipment used, the maintenance performed and how often the area is used around the pipework. On average heat trace systems have a lifespan between 3 years – 10 years with some even exceeding this.

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