All You Need To Know About Hot Tapping

Hot tapping is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, but what exactly does it mean? More specifically, how does it work, and when should it be used? 

Throughout today’s blog, we’ll answer all of these questions to let you know everything there is to know about hot tapping

What Is Hot Tapping?

Sometimes called pressure tapping, hot tapping connects to an existing pressurized system. Commonly, this will involve connecting to things like pipelines – be it water or gas. The whole idea of hot tapping is that it allows access to these pressurized systems without disrupting them or needing to remove part of the system to make the connection. 

As such, it’s highly beneficial in letting new connections be made without shutting down operations and causing a whole host of potential issues. So, the pipelines remain in service while hot tapping commences. 

How Does It Work?

Hot tapping primarily revolves around cutting or drilling small holes into an existing pipeline while it remains operational. This is done via a hot tap machine. In most cases, there are three main elements/components of this machine: 

  • A drill
  • A fitting
  • A valve

A drill is used to breach the operational pipeline and cut a hole into it. The valve is then installed in the newly cut hole and can be used to add a brand-new connection to this part of the pipeline. The fitting is arguably the most important component as it surrounds the whole pipe and creates a sealed connection between it, the machine, and the new hole that’s been drilled. 

When Should Hot Tapping Be Used?

By this point, you should understand what hot tapping is and how the process is completed. There are still a few burning questions left, the first of which relates to when hot tapping should be used. 

In what instances will it make sense to do this? 

Typically, four main jobs can be done with hot tapping: 

  • Adding new connections to a pipeline
  • Draining off pressurized fluids within the pipeline
  • Adding a test point within the pipeline – like a temperature or pressure sensor
  • Conducting repairs/maintenance to a section of the pipeline

As we have mentioned before, the whole premise of the hot tapping technique is to do all of the above while the pipeline remains operational. 

Coinciding with this question, you may also wonder where hot tapping is beneficial. Throughout our many years of service, we’ve found that this process is highly beneficial in the following settings: 

  • Water distribution
  • Natural gas plants
  • Wastewater pipelines
  • Oil networks
  • Building maintenance
  • And many more

Put this way, it is a highly versatile technique that can be used in gas piping, oil pipeworks, waterworks, and many other places. 

What Are The Benefits Of Hot Tapping?

There is one clear benefit that we have mentioned again and again throughout this blog. Yes, hot tapping enables work to be carried out on piping systems without stopping the whole system from working. This is extremely important when considering how this method can be used. If work needs to be done on a residential gas pipeline, hot tapping allows it to be carried out without interrupting the service to residents. If this method didn’t exist, the alternative would be to shut down the whole pipeline, meaning homeowners wouldn’t have access to gas until everything was finished. 

Moreover, hot tapping is an easy and effective way to expand a piping system or conduct general maintenance. It is highly cost-effective, too, given that the process is quick and easy. There’s no need to cut, realign, and reweld entire pipeline sections. As such, jobs are completed faster and with fewer resources, which decreases costs. 

Finally, from an environmental standpoint, hot tapping is incredibly beneficial. The technique prevents harmful emissions from being released into the atmosphere when jobs are conducted. So, it is a much greener approach to pipeline maintenance and management. 

To summarize, hot tapping – also known as line tapping or pressure tapping – is a method of breaching existing pipelines while the system remains operational. From here, connections can be made to the pipeline to expand the network or conduct maintenance/repairs. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about this service.