Frequently Asked Questions on Trace Heating

1. What is Trace Heating (Heat Tracing)?
Electric Surface/Trace Heating (Heat Tracing) is the application of a compensating heat source to a pipe, surface or vessel, to maintain a specified temperature. 

2. How does Heat Tracing work?

Electric 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 cable?

Constant wattage heaters 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 Limiting/Regulating cable?

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 or Self Limiting, which choice to make?


6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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%

9. 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. 

10. 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. 

11. How do I terminate the Heating Cable?
Full termination instructions are provided with all our cables or within the products section of the website. 

12. 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. 

13. 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. 

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 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 trace 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'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.

18. Do you make products for hazardous areas?

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

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 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 Insulation Resistance. For assistance on system testing please contact ESH.