Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is trace heating (heat trace)?

Electric trace heating (heat trace) is the application of a compensating heat source to a pipe, surface or vessel, to maintain a specified temperature.

2. How does trace heating work?

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

3. What is constant wattage heating tape?

Constant wattage heating tape 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.

4. What is self regulating heating tape?

Self limiting / self regulating heating tape adjusts heat output to equal the heat loss from the pipe work. As pipe temperature 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.

5. Constant wattage heating tape or self regulating heating tape, which choice to make?

Constant Wattage or Self Limiting?

6. Do I need to use thermal insulation?

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

7. Can I use electric 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.

8. Should I use a thermostat?

Trace heating thermostats are recommended for use with all surface heating systems. Temperature control can reduce system operating costs by as much as 90%.

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

The application of the heat trace tape depends on the required wattage. As ESH Trace Heating Ltd 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.

10. Can the trace 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.

11. How do I terminate the heating cable?

Full termination instructions are provided with all our heating tapes or alternatively can be found within the trace heating ancillaries section of the website.

12. Can electric trace heating tapes be joined?

Parallel circuit constant wattage heating tapes can be joined using either the relevant jointing kits or a trace heating junction box found under ancillaries within the products section.

13. Can I use heat trace on plastic pipes?

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

14. 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 heat traced with extra heating tape to allow removal of the valve or pump.

15. Do you carry out installation work?

ESH Trace Heating Ltd offer a full Installation and commissioning service carried out by experienced trace heating engineers.

16. Can you design a full surface heating system for me?

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

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

ESH Trace Heating Ltd manufacture custom made insulated and non-insulated heating jackets, mats and pads for many applications of up to 400°C. All products can be manufactured to suit customer specific application requirements.

18. Do you make products for Hazardous Areas?

ESH Trace Heating Ltd hold approvals for manufacture of Hazardous Area trace heating products.

19. 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.

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

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