How to Choose Tri-Clamps for Your Heater System

Heater System Pipe COnnections

Tri-clamp fittings are pipe connections with versatile uses. This type of connection compresses a gasket between two tri-clamp flanges closed a clamp for a sanitary seal. This makes a tight seal that prevents leaks and contamination, while also allowing for easy removal during disassembly or cleaning.

When to Use Tri-Clamps

The main use of tri-clamps is for any application or process where avoiding contamination is a high priority. It has hygienic and sanitary benefits over other connections, such as blind flanges.

Other connections can leave pockets, or have threading, which creates a space where bacteria and other microorganisms can grow. A tri-clamp leaves a smooth connection, preventing contamination and growth.

The sanitary benefits of tri-clamp fittings make them ideal in the pharmaceutical and food & beverage industry, where hygiene is a top priority. As well, they should be the standard for any application that requires the transportation of liquids with a high degree of purity.

An added benefit of tri-clamps is that they can be used as temporary or permanent fittings. So even where sanitation isn’t a high priority, they can still see use if temporary fittings are necessary.

Heater Types

Tri-clamp heaters can be used effectively with screw plug, immersion, and circulation heaters. They are particularly useful with circulation heaters that require a tight seal on the closed-loop. This ensures consistency while also preventing cross-contamination.

Tri-Clamp Selection

The materials, sizing, and components of tri-clamp fittings for your heater system are customizable, depending on the nature and specifics of your application. Choosing the right materials ensures optimal performance and reduces risks.

Temperature & Pressure

The first considerations for your material are the temperature and pressure range of your heating system. In most instances, plastic is suitable for tri-clamps. It’s less expensive than stainless steel while offering greater versatility and is easier to take on and off for cleaning and disassembly.

Systems operating under high pressure or at high temperatures may have to use stainless steel fittings. In industries like pharmaceuticals, however, this is less common. Although plastic cannot withstand as much pressure or heat as steel, it’s appropriate for most tri-clamp applications.

Common plastics for these fittings include polypropylene and polymer resins like polycarbonate and polysulfone.

Flow Rates & Fluid Compatibility

Flow rates and fluids also determine the materials and components of the ideal tri-clamp fitting. The flow needs to be considered to avoid any build-ups or obstructions in the tubing. Where the fluid used can increase the pressure or temperature, a high-pressure clamping mechanism may be necessary.


Next, the external environment of the heater system must be considered. An outdoor environment, for instance, is exposed to more variables. Extreme temperatures, water damage, dust, and ice are all potential risks that must be addressed.


Finally, it’s essential to get the right fit for your clamps. This is measured by the outside diameter of the tubing. Measuring by the flange is a common error that leads to oversized fittings and poor connections.

Making the right choices for your tri-clamp sizing, materials, and components is important to your operation. A Wattco representative can help you select the right tri-clamp for your process and heater system.

Installing Tri-Clamps for Industrial Heater Systems

Wattco custom designs and manufactures industrial heating systems and components. Our team will help you make the optimal heater and fitting selections for your specific operation. Contact us today for quotes and information on tri-clamp fittings.