Your browser is out of date.

You are currently using Internet Explorer 7/8/9, which is not supported by our site. For the best experience, please use one of the latest browsers.

Navigating the Hazards:


Heat transfer systems, including hot oil systems and glycol systems, are essential for various industrial processes. However, they come with inherent risks that must be carefully managed to ensure the safety of your personnel and equipment. Here are some of the common dangers associated with these systems and some practical solutions to mitigate these risks effectively:

High Operating Temperatures:

Dangers: Hot oil and glycol systems operate at elevated temperatures, posing risks of burns, fires, and explosions if not properly controlled.


  • Adequate Insulation: Ensure all system components, including pipes, valves, and vessels, are adequately insulated to minimize heat transfer to the surrounding environment and reduce the risk of burns. Also, for hot oil-based systems, it’s important to choose a non-wicking type of insulation such as cellular glass – oil soaked fiberglass insulation quickly becomes a fire hazard.
  • Temperature Monitoring and Control: Implement robust temperature monitoring systems, including thermocouples or infrared sensors, to continuously monitor and control the operating temperature. Alarms and automatic shutdown mechanisms should be in place to prevent temperature excursions beyond safe limits.
  • Safety Relief Devices: Install pressure relief valves and temperature limit controllers to protect the system from overpressure and excessive temperatures. Regular maintenance and testing of these devices are crucial to ensure their effectiveness.

Chemical Hazards:

Dangers: The heat transfer fluids used in these systems, such as hot oil and glycol, can be hazardous if mishandled or leaked. They may pose risks of toxicity, environmental pollution, or combustion.


  • Proper Fluid Selection: Choose heat transfer fluids that are suitable for the specific application and comply with safety regulations. Consider factors such as toxicity, flammability, and environmental impact when selecting the fluid.
  • Containment and Leak Detection: Implement secondary containment systems, such as drip pans or bund walls, to contain any potential fluid leaks. HEAT builds most of our systems on a steel base that will contain a certain volume of fluid and prevent a wide spill if detected early enough. Install leak detection systems, including sensors or alarms, to promptly identify and address any leaks before they escalate.
  • Spill Response Plan: Develop a spill response plan that includes procedures for containment, clean-up, and proper disposal of spilled fluids. Train personnel on spill response protocols to ensure quick and effective actions in case of an incident.

Corrosion and Fouling:

Dangers: Corrosion and fouling within heat transfer systems can reduce efficiency, compromise equipment integrity, and lead to system failures. It can also increase the risk of leaks and contamination.


  • Regular Maintenance and Inspection: Implement a comprehensive maintenance program that includes routine inspection, cleaning, and preventive maintenance of heat exchangers, pipes, and associated equipment. This helps identify and address corrosion or fouling issues before they worsen.
  • Fluid Maintenance Schedule: Regular testing and analysis of oil based thermal fluids is too often overlooked in system maintenance. Annual fluid testing is the key to identifying and correcting ordinary age-related fluid degradation issues. Failure to invest in these periodic fluid care maintenance recommendations will eventually lead to the much greater expense of replacing 100% of the fluid in the system. 
  • Water Treatment: Use appropriate water treatment methods, such as adding corrosion inhibitors or conducting periodic water analysis, to minimize the risk of corrosion within the water circulating loops of the system.
  • Fouling Prevention: Implement filtration systems or strainers to remove particulates from the fluid and prevent fouling. Consider periodic chemical cleaning or mechanical methods to address fouling when necessary. One solution is to install high temperature filters like HEAT’s HTFF Series alongside your process for continuous removal of particulate from your thermal fluid.

System Overpressure:

Dangers: Heat transfer systems can experience overpressure due to factors like equipment malfunction, pump failure, or blocked flow paths. Overpressure can lead to equipment damage, leaks, or even catastrophic failures.


  • Pressure Relief Devices: Install pressure relief valves or rupture disks at appropriate locations in the system to relieve excess pressure and protect equipment. Ensure these devices are correctly sized, regularly inspected, and tested.
  • Pressure Monitoring: Utilize pressure gauges and alarms to continuously monitor system pressure. Implement automatic shutdown mechanisms if pressure exceeds safe limits to prevent equipment damage and ensure operator safety.
  • System Design Considerations: Properly design the system with adequate pressure margins, flow control devices, and bypass lines to prevent overpressure situations.

HEAT designs all our systems with these important safety considerations in mind - the only thing more important than our customers is their safety. Contact our experts today if you have any questions about your process or application or how to make sure your system can continue to operate safely and reliably for its lifetime.