Everything is a team effort here at Eastern Controls. I shared the responsibilities of this project with our entire Thermal Division, and it created a unique and insightful experience into how to help our customers solve their heat trace issues.

As the installation was getting underway, Thermal Division Manager, Ryan Duffy (who has nearly 20 years of experience in electrical heat tracing) was able to pepper in several vignettes regarding proper technique.

“Take for example grounding. It’s simple, not something you generally think about. Why do we ground the circuit? Because if there’s a fault, your box becomes hot,” he said, tapping the metal of the Hazardous Area Kit (HAK-JB3). “If you touch that box and it’s hot,” Ryan raised his eyebrows, smiling, “well, there you go.” Fortunately, this circuit was grounded.

“I had a buddy of mine electrify his whole barn,” he told us. When we cast surprised looks at him, he laughed, “I kid you not. He did his own wiring for the barn and used grounding rods instead of ground from the main panel.  Turned out, one of the light fixtures had a direct fault from hot to ground.  When he turned that light on, the whole barn electrified and became hot. His dog would yelp anytime he went near it! If he had a proper grounding system, it all could have been avoided.” Thankfully no animal or human was harmed!

Shown above: During the wiring process into the junction box (JBS), Hazardous Area Kit (HAK-JB3), another image of the JBS during the wiring process

As we neared completion of the installation of the cable into the hazardous area junction box, Ryan inspected my work. “Loose wires cause fires,” he said as he tugged against the cable connections to the terminals and they were adequately tight. This became our mantra of the day, as there were three more connections that needed to be made between finishing heat trace circuit 101 and starting and ending heat trace circuit 202. After a thorough inspection, he gave us the OK and we began mounting the box and the cable onto the pipe.

heat trace on PTU piping

So why were we attaching the cable to the junction box first?  Well, there are instances where it is better or easier to do so, like when you’re working with elevated piping or tight areas on the ground. Therefore, it’s important to take the location into account.

Instructions for installing the cable into the junction box/end seal kit come in every box and are easy to follow: feed the cable through the boot, strip it down, attach the two leads and the braid onto the terminals in the box. Once the cable is attached to the JBS,

the JBS is then attached to the pipe. Now the cable can be paid out (laying out the exact amount of cable needed) with a more stable foundation.

As we planted the lighted end seal kit onto the pipe, a feeling of pride overcame me. A heat trace system that had been designed, modeled in TraceCalc Pro, and drawn up in AutoCAD, had become real and installed with our own hands.

Heat trace cable installation can be a safe and easy endeavor by using the right practices, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and keeping safety a priority. Engaging in this process firsthand was enlightening and has already influenced the way I design heat trace systems for our customers today.

– Sam Beccaria, Eastern Controls, Inc. Engineering Project Leader