steam safety lesson
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  1. #1
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    Dec 2013
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    steam safety lesson

    i busted my a$$ yesterday cutting in some sort of valve into a line running to the da tank. 2 1/2" 300# valve that probly weighed around 170 lbs.

    maintenence told me that they planned to do this 3 years ago, but it was deemed too dangerous so they held off.. . . . .that was BEFORE they added a bunch of pumps below it that negated the use of any sort of scissor lift. i had my work cut out for me.

    i prefabbed what i could, and saved 2 welds for "the place that cant be reached". 2 1/2" butt weld to threaded strainer to flanged valve to reducer up to 3 butt weld that was butted to a 6x3 and was originally welded with dual shield with a backing ring.

    got a call this morning saying saying one of my welds broke. . . . . . . .i was devastated. did it leak? i KNEW it was the one attatched to the 6x3 because it fit up with a slightly larger gap than i would have liked to have, and i didn''t get an x-ray root in what wit the backer adding thickness to the i.d.

    no, it broke, but dont get too riled up till i get there. relax, it's going to be okay.

    did you take any shortcuts?

    no, i followed the procedure i have tested to, 6010 with 7018 on top. there was one weld i was nervous about, but i never espected it to break completely. i did the best i could

    next call i missed, so, a coworker was dialed and he told me to get over there asap. i rounded up my things

    just before i got in my truck, a coworker started honking at mt from the lift he was on. he signaled me to stay, and that everything was okay. i called my boss.

    hey man, you did good, it wasn't your welds, but the strainer itself blew up. part of it hit a guy and knocked him off a 12' ladder and he is in an ambulance.. . . .. it wasn't your fault.

    i feel like crap. i didn't order the strainer, but i touched it, and it exploded. if it was one of my welds, i would have fixed it, quit, and taken a job at dennys.

    i guess the moral of the story is, dont put yourself anywhere near any sort of new pressurized installation. component failure can happen
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  2. #2
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    Mar 2011
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    Sorry for the worker who got knocked off, I just hope he recovers soon. And I am also glad to know that your weldments were not the culprits of the accident. I am pretty confident that any of the pro welders in this forum (not like the amateurs who just glue metal together like me) have done their homework and don't usually have a weldment fail.

    Mikel

  3. #3
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    Feb 2009
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    It makes one wonder if the strainer was used in the wrong application. Some are made for use in suction lines and others for pressure lines. The pressure in a DA is not that great. The ones I have been around vent to the atmosphere, run on #15 steam and have relief valves. Almost sounds like some one dead headed a pump and the strainer was on the discharge side.

    Dan D.
    Manipulator Of Metal

  4. #4
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    Oct 2006
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    Illinois
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    I worked on 250 to 300 pound steam piping both welded and screwed. ALL of it was tested prior to being in service . Many required all the welded to be xrayed too. Steam is deadly and the real high pressures stuff you cannot see the leak when in operation. A old guy told me when I was an apprentice 45 years ago that they used to walk the steam line with a straight corn broom. They would move the broom around the weld and the leak would cut the broom bristles right off.
    As for the strainer there are lots out there and may have been the wrong one for their type of service. It could have blown IF it was put online improperly. Steam is deadly and I have seen block walls crack from opening a valve too fast or not considering how much a line will move. Maybe there was a bad expansion joint or a anchor was defective. Even low pressure steam needs to be treated with respect. Hope everything works out.

  5. #5
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    Jul 2014
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    Also could have been water hammer ,It will blow stuff up like a bomb at moderate pressure . With over 30 years in the big plants I have seen a lot of damage caused by a simple brain fart .

  6. #6
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    Oct 2011
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    Elkhorn, WI
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    Steam burns are the worst!
    That rapid expansion crap just means its going to burn longer as it expends the energy!

  7. #7
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    Nov 2014
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    Netherlands
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    Quote Originally Posted by 92dlxman View Post
    i busted my a$$ yesterday cutting in some sort of valve into a line running to the da tank. 2 1/2" 300# valve that probly weighed around 170 lbs.

    maintenence told me that they planned to do this 3 years ago, but it was deemed too dangerous so they held off.. . . . .that was BEFORE they added a bunch of pumps below it that negated the use of any sort of scissor lift. i had my work cut out for me.
    Maybe I missed it....., but was there any engineering involved in this project ?
    Who picked and purchased the components ?

  8. #8
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    Nov 2012
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    new york city
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    gotta be careful working with steam. the steamfitters at work had several scaldings over the year's; two that involved skin grafts.
    i.u.o.e. # 15
    queens, ny and sunny fla

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    289

    Re: steam safety lesson

    Steam license and approved components and process or dont touch it, any of it. Danger zone. Boiler maintenance can get a stationary engineer ticket for some work, but even then. Anything to do with steam? Best to get a ticketed steam fitter in who knows and save yourself the risk.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2017
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    If you listen careful the white hat says "thats why we check the torque on bolts guys"


  11. #11
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    Dec 2013
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    back from out of town.

    that is one of the scariest videos. we i saw it a couple weeks ago in class. we have an ongoing by-weekly training in steam and ammonia and we get the occasional "dont do it like this" youtube break.

    fittings and even pipe were provided by maintenance dept of plant. all sch 80 and 300# stuff. they originally had another contractor to install it, but, they bailed at the last minute so we were called. so i was called.

    i heard feller is ok besides the broken leg. i wasn't there to re-start the system, but the maint. at the plant is very knowledgeable and i doubt they did anything wrong.

    it just hit me really hard to have one of my installations fail in a way to cause injury; my fault or not. and also, component failure is not something i ever really considered.

    ironic, cause last week i was on the roof of a different plant and took a walk to inspect a valve i installed last year. 6" 300# gate valve and it was LEAKING! it wasn't the new flanges i cut in, but a pinhole in the valve body itself!

    maybe casting issues are more common than i thought
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  12. #12
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    May 2015
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    Barre Town, VT
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    821

    Re: steam safety lesson

    Quote Originally Posted by 92dlxman View Post
    back from out of town.

    that is one of the scariest videos. we i saw it a couple weeks ago in class. we have an ongoing by-weekly training in steam and ammonia and we get the occasional "dont do it like this" youtube break.

    fittings and even pipe were provided by maintenance dept of plant. all sch 80 and 300# stuff. they originally had another contractor to install it, but, they bailed at the last minute so we were called. so i was called.

    i heard feller is ok besides the broken leg. i wasn't there to re-start the system, but the maint. at the plant is very knowledgeable and i doubt they did anything wrong.

    it just hit me really hard to have one of my installations fail in a way to cause injury; my fault or not. and also, component failure is not something i ever really considered.

    ironic, cause last week i was on the roof of a different plant and took a walk to inspect a valve i installed last year. 6" 300# gate valve and it was LEAKING! it wasn't the new flanges i cut in, but a pinhole in the valve body itself!

    maybe casting issues are more common than i thought
    Different type of pipe, but the building I work in got renovated this winter, which involved adding on to the sprinkler system. The sprinkler system failed the pressure test with 8 leaks. All of the leaks were at T fittings. The batch of fittings the sprinkler guys bought ended up have bad threads in them. They told me this was the second time they ended up with defective fittings in about a year.
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  13. #13
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    Feb 2017
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    289

    Re: steam safety lesson

    Often safety issues arise with multiple mini errors or oversights rather than one moment or action. A lot of safety reps suggest that theres no such thing as an accident which really annoys me because even with the best precautions, sometimes things do indeed go wrong for elements out of our control. If there is one element concerning safety that seems to crop up its when someone isn't sure of something and is either under pressure to get things done quickly so they work forward anyways and this can lead to misses on critical considerations which often slide along without issue but every once in a while things turn sour. Its a percentage game so follow the first rule and think. If the solution to your thinking does not present with certainty? Take yourself out of action and inform the chain of command of the problem to divest yourself from danger and responsibility. This can be a pain in the rear sometimes and it can lead to ridicule from others who like to swing sausage around but there are jack nuts in every workplace, learn not to let that nonsense drive you to be unsafe and never argue with idiots. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience

    Safety starts with you is a winning strategy.

  14. #14
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    Nov 2012
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    ROCKVILLE ,,VA
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    STEAM GET MY RESPECT!! been around alot ,,even house hot water heater can turn into missile with bad relief valve,, grade 8 bolts and b-7nuts minimum,, torque wrench that been calibrated ,,seen whole steam operation system that had zinc plated bolts paper gasket ,,that used for chill/heating water system that starts leak over time,,,like DanD78 said most da tanks have 15 psi relief valve, last system had two in case one goes bad ,,, make sure never put shutoff valve between vessel/pipe to relief valve or case discharge side,, lot (some industrial plants will install valve before relief valve they will be lockout open)also water treatment is injected at da tank so corrosive metal!! this what could happen to strainer?

  15. #15
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    Jul 2014
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    Quote Originally Posted by Iain P View Post
    Different type of pipe, but the building I work in got renovated this winter, which involved adding on to the sprinkler system. The sprinkler system failed the pressure test with 8 leaks. All of the leaks were at T fittings. The batch of fittings the sprinkler guys bought ended up have bad threads in them. They told me this was the second time they ended up with defective fittings in about a year.
    WE had a case about 5 years ago ,a bunch of 2" SS pipe from china was out of round in some places and when we threaded it we had leaks we could never stop .about a year and a half later we replaced it all with (Copper sweated tubing) end of problem.

  16. #16
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    Jul 2014
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    Quote Originally Posted by charlie53843 View Post
    STEAM GET MY RESPECT!! been around alot ,,even house hot water heater can turn into missile with bad relief valve,, grade 8 bolts and b-7nuts minimum,, torque wrench that been calibrated ,,seen whole steam operation system that had zinc plated bolts paper gasket ,,that used for chill/heating water system that starts leak over time,,,like DanD78 said most da tanks have 15 psi relief valve, last system had two in case one goes bad ,,, make sure never put shutoff valve between vessel/pipe to relief valve or case discharge side,, lot (some industrial plants will install valve before relief valve they will be lockout open)also water treatment is injected at da tank so corrosive metal!! this what could happen to strainer?
    I didn;t see the installation but it sounds like it was on the steam augmenter side and it was probably a slug of water that took out the strainer (Water hammer is deadly in steam)

  17. #17
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    Nov 2012
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    Quote Originally Posted by gxbxc View Post
    I didn;t see the installation but it sounds like it was on the steam augmenter side and it was probably a slug of water that took out the strainer (Water hammer is deadly in steam)
    Agree water hammer ,, Maybe boiler was brought up to fast? they usally start on low fire to warm water and small steam line under 15 psi pre heat the da tank water,, just guess dumping hot condesate from building to cold DA tank water would create major hammer!!! i call them little midget in pipe beaten hell inside!!! love see pictures of what failed?

  18. #18
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    Jan 2017
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    28

    Re: steam safety lesson

    what was going on in that hatch when the guy was down there? was the banging from the pipes alone or were they banging on hammer wrenches to tighten flanges or what?

  19. #19
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    Feb 2017
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    hammer time, but not the kind swung by hands

  20. #20

    Re: steam safety lesson

    I did this some years ago, it was caused by a tiny jet of steam from my TIG torch. I was using one without a leather wrap. Now I always wrap it in leather and then the standard wrap with the zippers.

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    That little stream of steam when through the back of my glove that was part leather and part cloth. It was summer and hot, so I was using a glove that vented. It went into the glove and blew the skin off the back of my hand, with a very load pop, that actually pushed my hand down. When I pulled off the glove there was a giant blob of skin laying over the back of my entire hand. When I went to move it, I realized that it was a skin ballon made from a two inch round piece of my skin, and not the whole back of my hand. The skin stretches that much. When I lifted it all the way up before I ripped it off, it looked like a partially inflated weather ballon anchored to my hand. I then ran to the cold water, and ripped off the top layer. I watched the layer underneath blister off, so ripped that off, the next layer blistered off, and I ripped that off finally I saw more smaller blisters starting to form in the dark red area, so i ripped that layer off and the cold water instantly took all the heat out of my wound. I ran to get mercurochrome and that kept it from getting infected or scaring. Today you cannot even tell.

    I can tell where it was if I put my hands under very hot water, that area will turn slightly brown. And cause a little warning discomfort.

    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    If I wasn't so.....crazy, I wouldn't try to act normal, and you would be afraid.

  21. #21
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    Re: steam safety lesson

    Quote Originally Posted by William McCormick View Post
    I did this some years ago, it was caused by a tiny jet of steam from my TIG torch. I was using one without a leather wrap. Now I always wrap it in leather and then the standard wrap with the zippers.

    Name:  handburnthursday.jpg
Views: 603
Size:  30.5 KB

    Name:  halfleather1.jpg
Views: 605
Size:  57.4 KB

    That little stream of steam when through the back of my glove that was part leather and part cloth. It was summer and hot, so I was using a glove that vented. It went into the glove and blew the skin off the back of my hand, with a very load pop, that actually pushed my hand down. When I pulled off the glove there was a giant blob of skin laying over the back of my entire hand. When I went to move it, I realized that it was a skin ballon made from a two inch round piece of my skin, and not the whole back of my hand. The skin stretches that much. When I lifted it all the way up before I ripped it off, it looked like a partially inflated weather ballon anchored to my hand. I then ran to the cold water, and ripped off the top layer. I watched the layer underneath blister off, so ripped that off, the next layer blistered off, and I ripped that off finally I saw more smaller blisters starting to form in the dark red area, so i ripped that layer off and the cold water instantly took all the heat out of my wound. I ran to get mercurochrome and that kept it from getting infected or scaring. Today you cannot even tell.

    I can tell where it was if I put my hands under very hot water, that area will turn slightly brown. And cause a little warning discomfort.

    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    dam mac that's painful just to look at.
    i.u.o.e. # 15
    queens, ny and sunny fla

  22. #22

    Re: steam safety lesson

    Have you ever seen the hammer pumps they use to pump water from a stream below up a large hill?



    There is that principle at work, when cold water in piping or tanks is hit with hot steam, the steam condenses. At first you get super low pressures, even partial vacuum pressures, that causes the velocity in pipes feeding it to increase. As the velocity increases so does the pressure when it dead heads, it super heats the gasses above the now heated condensed water and it suddenly boils violently increasing pressure and making more heat that increases pressure and sometimes it is more than enough to bend metal.

    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    If I wasn't so.....crazy, I wouldn't try to act normal, and you would be afraid.

  23. #23

    Re: steam safety lesson

    Quote Originally Posted by docwelder View Post
    dam mac that's painful just to look at.
    It is all good now. Glad the site is back up.

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    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    If I wasn't so.....crazy, I wouldn't try to act normal, and you would be afraid.

  24. #24
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    Sep 2010
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    Columbia, MO
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    153

    Re: steam safety lesson

    Man! I could throw a needle across a room and hit those veins!....... (sorry..... male welding nurse here......) I worked Burn ICU for years. Great pics!

  25. #25

    Re: steam safety lesson

    Quote Originally Posted by captain belly View Post
    Man! I could throw a needle across a room and hit those veins!....... (sorry..... male welding nurse here......) I worked Burn ICU for years. Great pics!
    When I was younger they were huge; I guess as you get older you take it a little easier and the veins get smaller.

    I have tried hydrogen peroxide on cuts, and it tends to leave scars that do not heal. But mercurochrome does the trick. Mercurochrome is almost like meat glue; it manages to rejoin flesh.

    You probably get to see some gruesome stuff in that profession. Some of the best burns I have gotten was when I picked up metal so hot it felt cold until I got that intense pain in my flesh.

    Sincerely,

    William McCormick
    If I wasn't so.....crazy, I wouldn't try to act normal, and you would be afraid.

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