Utilizing a condensate return system has numerous benefits for dry-cleaning businesses. However, many business owners are in the dark about this concept. If you aren’t sure exactly what a condensate return system does, or even if you know the basics, learning about what condensate is and why you should take advantage of it can be crucial to your time and bottom line.

Let’s take a look at the in’s and out’s of condensate:

What Is Condensate?

Condensate is a term for the liquid that evolves as the steam cools and changes state. The steam starts to reduce in temperature as its heat transfers into the equipment’s piping. As the steam liquefies, the temperature of the condensate is equal to the temperature of the moisture. The concept of a condensate recovery system is that this process can be used to your advantage by recapturing and reusing the already heated condensate’s energy.

What Is a Condensate Return System?

A condensate recovery system consists of drain lines and steam traps. They are designed to collect the condensate and move it along quickly and efficiently, so heat is not lost during the process, and reheating doesn’t need to occur to heat it back to steam. When this is achieved, there is less energy loss, energy efficiency is maximized, and fuel consumption is reduced.

What Ways Can Condensate Be Reused?

There are many ways condensate can be reused. Here are some of the most common methods:

  • For a heating system as preheat
  • Steam by reusing flash steam
  • For hot water to clean equipment
  • By recycling hot condensate back to the boiler’s deaerator for heated feed water

Are There Advantages to Using Condensate?

There are many benefits of condensate recovery. Below is a list of advantages of mixing condensate with makeup water in your feed tank after recovering it:

  • Condensate is distilled water; it’s in a pure form and is, therefore, suitable to use as your feed water.
  • There is an improvement noticed in energy efficiency.
  • Financially, it lowers the cost of chemicals used in water treatment.
  • Lowers the cost of makeup water.
  • Lessens load on the sewer system.
  • Lower water-related expenses.
  • Reduces disposal costs.
  • Condensate can be used as the hot process water to heat coils and exchange units.

Is Condensate Valuable?

Condensate is considered to be a valuable renewable resource and should not be wasted. Even in small quantities, condensate is worth being collected. To put it in perspective, the discharge from a single steam trap is worth recovering. Condensate contains heat, chemicals, and water and is usually costs one-third the amount of generating steam.

When we fail to recover condensate, its energy, chemical treatment, and water are wasted, leading to higher fuel and water-related costs. Conversely, when we reuse condensate as boiler feedwater, we increase water and chemical treatment costs. Therefore, the energy we restore helps reduce boiler fuel costs significantly.

An effective condensate recovery system can quickly pay for itself by collecting the hot condensate from the steam and returning it to the boiler feed system. If condensate is not recovered, it must be placed in the boiler house with cold water, requiring additional costs to retreat the water and heat it again at a lower starting temperature. This is an inefficient use of resources and not cost-effective.

Importance of Proper Maintenance

Proper maintenance is essential with condensate recovery systems. Typically, annual inspections are required to ensure that the system is in good working order and meets all the specifications. Thorough cleaning of the system is needed to clear debris and build-up of materials in the drains. Good maintenance and care of your system will prevent drainage system failures, which can be costly. It pays to take the extra steps in preserving your strategy to avoid malfunction later.

Correct Disposal Method

It is very important to dispose of condensate properly as not to violate any environmental laws. When released into the air by the compressed air equipment, the condensate consists of tiny particles of oil that are not visible to the naked eye. This is why it needs to be disposed of correctly, so it does not negatively impact the environment. Condensate should never be discharged on a walkway or near foot traffic due to slipping hazards. There may also be fines or a damaged reputation at stake when improper disposal is revealed, which can be devastating to a company.

There are two fundamental procedures to get rid of condensate: gravity or by way of a pump. With either strategy, you will need a non-corrosive pipe. With gravity, a drain line will run along the floor, ideally pitching down-hill. It’s a good idea to use a vacuum breaker at the trap and a safety switch if the pump begins to fail. If a gravity drain is not possible because the line cannot remain below the trap outlet, then a condensate pump is necessary. The condensate pump should have an overflow switch that shuts the boiler down if the pump fails.

Condensate Receivers by REMA Dri-Vac

As you can see, condensate recovery systems can save money and, in turn, help minimize additional costs for your dry-cleaning business. There are rules involved in properly disposing of the condensate and safety procedures that need to be followed. These details must be taken seriously to prevent future problems, but with proper education and guidance, a condensate recovery system is reliable and well worth it.

If you would like to learn more or are interested in a condensate return system for your company, REMA Dri-Vac can help. Contact us for more information!

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