Pipelines require a fair amount of inspection, repair, and construction to continue running smoothly. However, shutting down a pipeline for maintenance can mean halting product flow or even putting homes and businesses out of power. Fortunately, there are ways for pipeline operators to avoid the hassle. That’s where hot tapping comes in. Learn more about this method of pipeline maintenance with this introduction to hot tapping in piping.
What Is Hot Tapping?
Hot tapping allows pipeline operators to isolate sections of the pipe by plugging the line. This allows workers to perform maintenance or install a branch connection to the pipeline, making it one of the convenient ways to fix broken sections of a pipeline without interrupting service. While other maintenance methods might require you to depressurize the line and disrupt operations, hot tapping allows workers to isolate and bypass sections of pipeline. This helps prevent the need to shut down the entire system as operators perform tests or repairs.
The Hot Tapping Process
This introduction to hot tapping in piping breaks down the hot tapping process into two main steps: attaching the hot tapping machine to the pipeline, then cutting a hole into the pipeline wall. Once a worker seals the hot tapping machine to the pipe and creates your hole, they can then use the hot tap to divert the flow of product to a temporary or permanent bypass. This then allows workers to install a line stop that helps drain and isolate a nearby section of pipe, making it easier to perform any necessary inspections or maintenance in the area. Once operators complete the work at this section of the pipeline, they can reestablish the flow of product, uninstall any temporary bypasses, and remove the hot tapping machine from the pipeline. The work is complete and end-users never experienced an interruption or complication of any kind.