Boiler Maintenance Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

June 7, 2016

Industrial boilers represent a major investment at most industrial facilities and they also play a fundamental role in day-to-day operations. It is thus crucial to keep boilers running smoothly and efficiently with regular, on-going maintenance. However, just because a boiler is being checked regularly, does not mean it is necessarily being properly maintained. Improper maintenance can lead to decreased efficiency, higher costs, lost productivity, and even dangerous accidents. Here are some serious boiler maintenance mistakes and how to avoid them.

Not Checking or Cleaning the Water Gauge Glass

Not having adequate water in the boiler is a key reason that it stops working. The water gauge glass gets cloudy over time, making it difficult to accurately read the gauge. When the plant is on a turnaround, the water gauge glass should be cleaned or replaced. Don’t forget to clean the piping to the gauge, as dirty piping can cause a false water level.

Not Maintaining the Fuel System

The entire fuel system of the boiler needs routine inspections and upkeep. When the boiler runs efficiently, it keeps fuel costs down, maintains its longevity, and prevents shutdowns. The burner should be cleaned on a regular schedule.

Not Cleaning the Piping and Float Chamber

When the float chamber isn’t flushed on a regular basis, there can be sediment buildup, which prevents efficient operations. The piping should cleared of sludge and sediment to ensure accurate readings and to let the operator set the correct water level when the boiler is operating.

Not Checking the Fuel Cutoff

One of the safety features in a boiler is the fuel cutoff, which essentially cuts off the fuel if the water level gets too low. This is a safety feature as well as an efficiency feature. A qualified technician needs to test this feature on a regular basis, and at least yearly, the fuel cutoff needs to be taken apart, cleaned, and checked.

Not Checking the Safety Valves

The safety valves are another important feature which will release when the pressure exceeds the output of the boiler. However, these valves can become corroded over time when it’s not seated correctly on the disk. Taking care of this problem not only keeps the boiler operations safe, but it prevents more expensive maintenance later in the life cycle monitoring.

Not Monitoring Stack Temperature Gauge Readings

The boiler has multiple methods of identifying deterioration or efficiency. The stack temperature gauge measures the temperature of the flue gas as it leaves the boiler. Higher readings indicate that the tubes are getting sooty or that the baffling has been burned through. A 40 (F) degree increase in temperature reduces efficiency by one percent.

Not Maintaining the Condensate Recovery System

The condensate recovery system takes the condensation from the steam and reuses it as feedwater. Because the temperature of the condensate is much higher than that of fresh water, this is an important function to lower the operating costs. The condensate recovery system needs to be checked regularly so that the boiler does not need to work harder to keep the condensation hotter.

Forgetting to Analyze and Optimize Air-to-Fuel Ratio

The boiler uses a strict formula of oxygen to fuel for the best efficiency during its operations. If too much air is added into the system, it heats up excess energy. Too little air doesn’t burn the fuel completely, creating smoke and soot. Managing these two components and ensuring that the optimal ratio is achieved saves money and maintenance.

Not Cleaning the Boiler Heat Transfer Surfaces

Not many people realize that even a small layer of soot or buildup on the surfaces in the boiler can act as an insulator. This reduces how efficient the boiler is during the combustion process. The soot blower system needs cleaning on a regular basis to prevent this buildup occurrence.

Not Minimizing Heat Loss

Adding a layer of insulation minimizes efficiency, but losing heat in the process also reduces the productivity of the boiler. Instead of losing heat, an economizer can be installed to prevent heat loss when the boiler is releasing energy into the stack. This heat can then be redirected to other parts of the boiler system to create process efficiencies and result in operational cost savings.

Not Reviewing Boiler Logs

Understanding how the boiler operates and is maintained is vital to the overall operations of the boiler. Thus b Boiler maintenance logs need to be meticulously kept to know when it’s time for maintenance. By reviewing the logs, technicians can track changes in the boilers efficiency, thus having even more clues to know when it requires maintenance. STI Group offers a comprehensive range of boiler and boiler maintenance services aimed at helping to maximize the efficiency and service life of industrial boilers.