Precipitator Performance Tips

You depend on your precipitator to help you reach your emissions requirements. But your precipitator needs a few things from you, too. Here are a few things to keep in mind about precipitator maintenance, monitoring, and upgrades.

The Importance of Regular Maintenance

Maybe you didn't know that your electrostatic precipitator (ESP) filters over 99 percent of solid particles from gas and air exhausts. What would otherwise escape in the form of dust into the atmosphere is safely contained and disposed of. Running at this high rate of efficiency allows you to meet your emissions and opacity requirements.

However, over time ESP components and systems can wear out and decrease efficiency. This not only ups your operating costs; it can land you in trouble with the EPA as well. Regular precipitator maintenance and inspections can help you identify problems before they start.

Maintenance Procedures

Basic maintenance procedures like blast cleaning and rapper tune ups should be performed every year, while thorough inspections should be performed biannually. Technicians should be checking for ash line clogs, arcing, and broken insulators.

This is something you may want to contract out for. A professional precipitator maintenance firm can not only identify problem areas your crew might overlook, but is qualified to execute repairs as well.


Having a system in place to monitor your ESP is an integral part of your maintenance routine. The EPA recommends monitoring prime performance indicators, which include: particulate matter outlet concentration, opacity, spark rate, gas flow rate, rapper operation, and inlet gas temperature.

Remember that optimal efficiency affects not only the environment, but your operating costs as well.

Tweaking the System

When routine maintenance is not enough, you may have to think about adjusting your ESP system. Tweaking the resistivity (the amount of resistance the particles have to electricity) can improve efficiency.

If there is too much resistivity, the ESP will not clean as much as it should. Iowa's Department of Energy advises that changing the gas temperature or water vapor can reduce resistivity, as can the addition of conditioning agents like soda ash or sulfuric acid.

When It's Time To Upgrade

ESP technology has been around for a while. It's likely that the system you're using is 30 to 50 years old and badly in need of an upgrade, says Power Engineering Magazine. Stricter EPA limits on mercury and acid gas emissions, among other factors, have prompted many ESP owners to action.

Before you sink funds into the repair and maintenance of a failing system, you might want to consider a full or partial system upgrade from a place like Fireproofing Corporation.