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Condensation on uninsulated parts
Saving energy and avoiding problems
In applications with temperatures below the ambient level insulation has other demands besides limiting the loss of energy. Below are some examples of cases where several problems came up. These problems were caused by either missing insulation on some parts, insufficient insulation (causing dew point problems) or damaged vapour barriers and/or insulation.


Left: Pumps brake down. Right: Valves can no longer be operated.

Water vapour is always present in the air. When this vapour comes close to colder surfaces it condensates. This condensation could happen either on uninsulated parts, or inside the insulation layer. A good vapour barrier outside the insulation layer is therefore important.

If condensation is allowed to happen, the water (or ice) will:
  • Increase energy losses
  1. Water has a 20x higher thermal conductivity than air
  2. Ice has a 100x higher thermal conductivity than air
  • Cause damage to the insulation materialCause corrosion to pipes, vessels & cladding
  • Cause structural problems for the installation (due to the extra weight)
  • Cause inoperable valves, engines, pumps (ice build-up)
  • Cause electrical shortcuts, make control panels brake down

The control panel needed to be protected with plastic sheeting from the dripping condensation water. Extensive ice building on pipes and valves.

Cold insulations have in general a limited life expectancy: They are unstable systems, which for physical reasons react sensitively to damages. They must be maintained regularly, which includes a routine check of sealings and interruptions. This is needed not only to save decent volumes of energy but also to keep industrial processes running.


Broken vapour barriers and insufficient insulation caused ice to form around these pipes causing both process control problems and structural problems.
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:: Agenda
TIPCHECK Course (in English) Munich (Germany)
13-17 May 2019
European Industrial Insulation Foundation
Avenue du Mont-Blanc 33
1196 Gland, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 22 99 500 70
Fax: +41 22 99 500 71

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