In-Service Hot Taps and/or Line Stops – (DIY) Is Self Performing A Bad Idea?

Author: Red Flame Industries Inc | | Categories: Certified Engineering Technician , Cold Cutting , Field Machining , Heat Treating , Hot Tap Fittings , Hot Tapping Company , Hot Tapping Oil Pipeline , Hot Tapping Services , In-Service Welding , Induction Bolt Heating Service , Leak Sealing , Line Stop , Line Stopping Services , NDT Inspection , Pipe Line Stop , Professional Engineer , Repair Sleeves , Resistance Heat Treating , Specialty Mechanical Services , Technical Bolting , Tensioning Solutions , Tool Calibration


For safe and consistent distribution of energy sources like gas, oil, petrochemical, and renewable resources, the pipelines carrying them must be inspected, maintained, and modified regularly. Doing this has always required a full line or isolated system shut down, with line contents drained or flared, cleaned or purged, cut, and installed to provide a safe connection. Hot Tapping, Repair Sleeves, and Line Stopping provide a more efficient and less wasteful alternative for adding new connections or updating in-service piping systems, tanks, and vessels. They are also a safe way of executing these scope without the requirement of losing production or disrupting facility services.

While Hot Tapping and Line Stopping are a great and effective alternative for the expansion and maintenance of any of these systems, there are a lot of engineered safe measures and procedures required to ensure they are completed safely. If you don’t have the proper knowledge and requirements to conduct these processes and do attempt to DIY (do it yourself) them, your efforts could lead to significant line issues or even casualties.

Red Flame Industries Inc has provided a basis of what could go wrong in attempting to perform these procedures on your own without the right knowledge and understanding.

1. Safety hazards
There are many safety hazards that can arise in attempting to complete a hot tap or line stop without addressing each possible item thoroughly. There is potential for the existing line to be damaged, have internal corrosion, existing cracking, or other implications which can be jeopardized upon installation of a branch, or cutting causing full rupture, spill or exposure to chemicals or hazardous materials.

In addition, using standard methods of welding on a live line can present a number of additional hazards, such as standard or hydrogen-induced cracking, heat stress, structural stress, burn through, or spark ignition.

Factors during the execution of hot taps or line stopping, such as ensuring equipment components, seals and specifications meet the potential line design and operating conditions causing equipment failure, rupture, or launch in the vicinity of workers. Improper use or installation of tooling and being stuck or lost in a system, or cause of spark or permanent line damage.

As a result, if you don’t have sufficient experience and training in these technical areas, it’s essential to enlist a professional to ensure these items have all been reviewed and mitigated prior to any in-service work scopes being completed.

2. Financial implications
The Safety Hazards listed above for these respects can then carry over into financial implications. If a line were to rupture, crack, cause a fire and/or explosion and there is no plan to shut down or upstream isolation, the financial implications of a fatality, full system outage, repair, asset recovery, and production disruption can be monumental. In many cases, making a mistake during a DIY repair or installation can be quantified as a make or break in a facility or companies finances. The savings of attempting these procedures DIY or without the guidance or execution by trained professionals can be far outweighed by a catastrophic event or expenditure.

3. Full shut down
The benefit of executing a Hot Tap Branch Connection, or an In-Service Line Stop with By-Pass, is that a Pipeline, Tank, or Vessel can remain in operation with limited or no disruption of production, and still be updated with a repair, new branch or spool, or enhance operations.

In the case of any of the above-listed safety or financial implications, the requirement for a full system shut down or long term outage can be the last resort to ensure the spill, leakage, environmental damage or fatality can be addressed properly and fixed to allow a system to be accepted for safe operation under a regulatory board. In many systems, this can be a full disruption to more than one business unit can lead to a range of problems to bring a system back online from performing an ESD (Emergency Shut Down) if a proper mitigation plan or risk review hasn’t been completed.

Do Things Right – Protect Your Assets - Hire a professional
If you require a new connection, line, or spool repair or integrity reclamation and are looking at completing these scopes in-service, it’s vital to involve a highly trained, tested, and certified set of professionals to assess and complete each stage. These professionals are specialists for a reason, with hundreds of hours of training and testing, mock-up trials, and engineered and tested procedures and protocols to cover each and every step and possibility. Each aspect from start to finish is thoroughly calculated and planned for to ensure a safe and long term result is accounted for.

When looking for a professional, remember to ask for a specialty industrial hot tap and line stop service provider. They can complete several different applications and offer materials to suit your needs. The cost of their services will depend on the hot tap or line stop size and conditions. That means your expenses could be anywhere between$1,000 upwards of $300,000 depending on the requirements of the job.

That said, a specialist company can provide everything from a preliminary engineering assessment, full design package, all associated branch materials, specified applicable in-service weld procedures, trained and qualified personnel, and non-destructive testing before and throughout the welding process, properly calculated pressure tests, tested and certified machines for appropriate line conditions, engineered safeguards throughout the process, as well as quality tracking documentation, hold points and sign-offs. Turn-key solutions to eliminate your stresses and keep you operating.

For more information on hot tapping, line stopping, or in-service repairs, please reach out to Red Flame Industries Inc. Our services include everything from Hot Tapping, Line Stopping, In-Service Integrity, and Leak Repair, Non-Destructive Testing, Custom Manufacturing and Enclosures, Specialty Mechanical, In-House, or Field Machining, and Heat Treatment Services.

We provide these specialized industrial solutions throughout Canada, as well as across the U.S.A and Mexico alongside our sister company Bolttech Mannings Inc. We are committed to managing quality and safety excellence across all aspects of our business. We ensure our employees, products, services, and facilities attain full accreditation and comply with the recognized industry standards. To learn all about our services, please click here or feel free to get in touch with us.

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