System Condensate Return

Image provided by Ferris State University

In a steam heating system, it is the job of the condensate return to convey water back to the boiler where it can be regenerated into steam for another circuit through the steam/condensate piping system.  As steam leaves the boiler and flows through a piping system, it begins to lose heat energy due to the lower temperature of the pipe. In the process, some steam cools enough to condense into water (called condensate in a steam system).

This condensate is collected in drip legs, which are simply pieces of vertical pipe connected at regular intervals to the bottom of the steam pipe.  Because condensate is heavier than steam, it flows along the bottom of the steam lines and drains into the drip legs by gravity.  Fitted to the bottom of each drip leg is a device called a steam trap, which separates steam and condensate and allows the condensate to drain away into the condensate return system.

Most condensate is created in steam heat exchangers as heat energy is exchanged between the steam and air or water in the heat exchanger.  As steam energy is released, the steam condenses and must be returned to the boiler to be regenerated.  The condensate draining from steam heat exchangers is also fed to a steam trap and then allowed to flow into the condensate return system.

Compatible Materials

Carbon Steel Pipe

Manufactured as welded or seamless, and in a variety of wall thicknesses, (Light, Standard,...