Interestingly enough, as the weather warms in most places around the US, now is a great time to do a boiler inspection and maintenance program. As we know, the proper maintenance of a boiler can prevent dangerous boiler operating conditions from occurring. And, the only way one can be confident they are functioning properly is to perform required maintenance, testing, and inspection regularly.
Regular inspection of boilers is the law, which is typically controlled and governed by states, municipalities and cities. Boilers must be examined by certified inspectors according to a mandated schedule. The day-to-day maintenance and servicing of boilers is the responsibility of building engineers, plant- and facility-maintenance managers, and/or building managers. It is important to note that most problems do not occur suddenly; instead, they develop slowly over a long period of time–so slowly, in fact, they often go unnoticed by maintenance personnel.
According to the National Board of Boiler and Vessel Inspectors’, 81 percent of boiler incidents are caused by low water conditions, operator error, or poor maintenance. This means they are preventable.
I was speaking with a colleague, Bob Byrom, Product Line Manager for ITT Residential & Commercial Water and he stated that, “boiler safety controls require a regular maintenance program to ensure proper operation. Low water cut-offs on steam boilers should be blown down on a regular basis. In fact, many codes require that controls on commercial steam boilers be blown down weekly and, in certain cases, daily. Additionally, the controls should be periodically inspected and rebuilt or replaced as necessary. As with any safety control, all service should be performed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.”
So, what types of things should you be looking for during the inspection of your boiler? In addition to regular wear and tear, examine a number of potential warning signs, including:
- The age of the control, which can be determined by checking the date code stamped onto each individual control.
- Records of the unit under inspection. Sometimes a log of past inspections and findings will be affixed to the boiler or attached in a packet. The inspector will focus on frequency and specific maintenance performed.
- Signs of poor maintenance.
- Sediment buildup.
- Erratic-functioning boiler controls.
- Overall boiler and boiler control performance and operation.
So while it’s heating up outside, don’t forget to have your boiler inspected by a licensed professional.