Have you ever noticed that many “light-bulb-above-your-head” moments are often about things you should have recognized already? (I hope that question hasn't caused too many should-have-known-already light bulbs itself.) Or maybe it's not that you “should have” known it -- perhaps it's more that you already knew it, on some level, but now you're fully aware of it and ready to act. I had one of those moments as I listened to a speaker explain that although most people talk about getting to the “cause” of a problem, it's the wrong approach. Seeking a single “cause” of a problem is a fallacy, he explained, because a problem never has a single root cause. Instead, it is a series or system of causes that leads to the eventual outcome. Of course! I thought. I knew it already, but I had never looked at the issue in quite that way.

I was reminded of that light-bulb moment while reading “Symptoms and Causes of Pump Failure” from Goulds Pumps Inc., Seneca Falls, N.Y. The article provides a matrix of common pump problems and their possible causes. As if to prove the system of causes theory, the article shows that each symptom has several possible causes. It also makes the point that the ability to distinguish between a symptom and a cause can speed up the troubleshooting process.

Differentiating between symptoms and causes of steam system troubles may be easier if you read “Making Sure Steam Piping Is Safe,” by John R. Puskar, P.E., CEC Combustion Services Group, Cleveland, and Mark Rudek, Damarc Quality Inspection Services LLC, Cottage Grove, Minn. This article provide methods for screening high-pressure (below 300 psig) piping systems that may normally be encountered in industrial steam plants, and identifies safety issues related to the design and/or installation of pipe, valves, flanges and components used in these systems. The authors caution that it is not an all-inclusive guide to safe practices, but instead the article attempts to give some insight for understanding and conducting a simple screening of a steam piping system.

Perhaps you are responsible for maintaining a water-circulating temperature control system. In “Water System Q&A,” Mark Pastor of Mokon, Buffalo, N.Y., provides answers to common questions about these systems. The questions and answers can help you optimize operation and minimize maintenance downtime.

In “How to Select a Burn-off Oven,” Carlton Mann of Steelman Industries Inc., Kilgore, Texas, explains the basics of burn-off ovens. Long used to clean parts in the motor rewind industry, burn-off ovens, or heat-cleaning ovens as they are sometimes known, are being used to remove organic materials such as varnish, paint, oil and plastic from metal parts, allowing them to be reused.

Finally, in “Pasteurization Possibilities,” Tom Schroeder of Ventilex USA Inc., West Chester, Ohio, explains how to steam pasteurize almonds and other nuts. Schroeder notes that heat is lethal to spoilage microorganisms, but each species has its own particular heat tolerance. The effectiveness of the thermal process depends both on the temperature of exposure and the time required at this temperature to accomplish the desired rate of destruction. PH

Linda Becker
Associate Publisher & Editor