Frequently Asked Questions

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Q.  What is trace heating (heat tracing)?

Electric trace heating, heat trace or surface heating, is the application of a compensating heat source used to temperature maintain or raise pipes, surfaces and vessels. In the form of an electrical heating element, trace heating is run in physical contact with the desired surface.


Q.  How does heat tracing work?

Electric surface heating / heat trace replaces the losses of heat from a surface, to allow temperature maintenance of the product, which thermal insulation alone can not maintain.


Q.  When is trace heating required?

Trace heating can be used to protect pipes from freezing, maintain the temperature of a hot water system, or maintain process temperatures for smooth and efficient running of process plant equipment.


Q.  What is constant wattage cable?

Constant wattage heating cable exist in various forms, of which the more recent zonal parallel circuit devices are the most convenient, since these may be 'cut to length', within practical limits, on site. The output of constant wattage tape is virtually constant along the tape length, due to the consistent nature of the wire element.


Q.  What is self limiting / regulating cable?

Self regulating heating cable adjusts heat output to equal the heat loss from the pipe work. As pipe temperatures falls under no-flow conditions or due to the decreases in external or internal temperature the electrical conductivity of the semi-conductive polymer core increases causing the tape to increase output. As the pipe temperature increases under flow conditions or as a result of increasing external or internal temperature the conductivity reduces and output decreases.


Q.  Constant wattage or self limiting, which choice to make?

Engineers and installers using heat trace will always have their preferences as to the type of trace heating cable to use. Take a look at the pros and cons for both cable types - F1078 CONSTANT WATTAGE OR SELF LIMITING 


Q.  Do I need to use thermal insulation?

Thermal insulation is recommended on all applications. Without insulation surface heat losses can increase approx 4-5 times.


Q.  Can I use surface heating (ESH) to heat raise pipes and vessels?

Electric surface heating (ESH) can be used to heat raise pipes and vessels. However, it is usually more economic to maintain heating on a pipeline than to provide a heating system designed to raise from cold. Where it is necessary to make provision for heat raising the time allowed should normally be in the range 12 - 24 hours to avoid high loadings.


Q.  Should I use a thermostat?

Thermostat control is recommended for use with all trace heating systems. Temperature control can reduce system operating costs by as much as 90%.


Q.  Do I have to spiral the trace heating onto the pipe?

The application of the heating tape depends on the required wattage. As ESH Trace Heating manufacture an extensive range of heating tapes most applications can simply be straight traced, reducing costs of materials and installation time without compromising on operational requirements.


Q.  Can the heating tape be cut to length?

ESH Trace Heating's range of parallel circuit heating tapes can all be 'cut-to-length' to suit pipework.


Q.  How do I terminate the heating cable?

Full termination instructions are provided with all our cables or within the products section of the website.


Q.  Can heating tapes be joined?

Parallel circuit heating tapes can be joined using either the relevant jointing kits or a junction box found under 'Ancillaries' within the products section.


Q.  Can I use trace heating on plastic pipes?

When using trace heating on plastic pipes ensure that the cable does not exceed 12 watts per metre and is fitted with earth protection. The cable should be used in conjunction with a thermostat. NOTE: PVC cables and PVC fixing tape MUST NOT be used on PVC pipes.


Q.  Do I have to allow extra heat for pumps and valves?

If the surface area of the pump is substantially greater than that of the adjoining pipework then extra heating cable may need to be considered (depending on wattage of cable installed). Pumps and valves may be trace with extra heating cable to allow removal of the valve or pump.


Q.  Do you carry out installation work?

ESH Trace Heating Ltd offer a full installation and commissioning service carried out by experienced Trace Heating Engineers.


Q.  Can you design a full trace heating system for me?

Utilising our in-house design facilities ESH Trace Heating Ltd can design your complete trace heating requirements.


Q.  Can you design and make a specialised heating jacket for me?

ESH Trace Heating Ltd's full design capabilities can be utilised to manufacture from simple sketches, supplied technical drawings through to comprehensive site survey and complete prototype mold construction.


Q.  Do you make products for hazardous areas?

ESH Trace Heating Ltd hold approvals for manufacture of trace heating products for use within hazardous areas.


Q.  Does my trace heating system require maintenance?

Generally, no maintenance of our trace heating systems is required but it is recommended that the system is checked for operational and electrical integrity periodically or prior to the winter or production run, depending on application.


Q.  How do I test my trace heating is working properly?

System checks depend on the system installed, constant wattage systems can be fully checked for insulation resistance and continuity. Self limiting systems can only be checked for insulations resistance. For assistance on system testing please contact us.