Importance of Boiler Cleanings and Feedwater Inspections

Firetube Boiler and Feedwater System

Boiler equipment is a valuable capital investment for a facility that requires diligent attention to avoid breakdowns, protection against safety hazards and a long equipment life. To achieve a healthy boiler system, routine maintenance and boiler cleaning is essential. When compared to a single instance of an unplanned plant shutdown, the cost of boiler inspection, maintenance and repairs is minor.  We’ll cover reasons to properly maintain your boiler and some tips on what to watch for when your boiler and feedwater equipment needs attention. 

Avoid Breakdowns and Repairs

One of the most significant reasons why a good boiler maintenance plan is so important is because it helps prevent boiler-related emergency shutdowns. Breakdowns can cost thousands of dollars in equipment repairs. Boilers are typically indispensable pieces of equipment at most facilities. If the boiler fails, then all operations at the plant can grind to a halt, stopping production and costing the plant in lost productivity. In a building heat situation, a boiler failure can compromise comfort heat.

Protection Against Safety Hazards

Safety is a top concern at just about all plants and facilities. Not only can an accident tragically injure human personnel, but it can also cause devastating structural damage to the facility. Good boiler maintenance helps prevent boiler-related accidents from occurring by safely detecting and correcting potential problems before they can lead to accidents.  To be confident that control and safety devices are functioning properly you must regularly perform required maintenance, testing and inspection.

Longer Equipment lifespan

LIke anything you own, when it’s well maintained it will prolong the life of the equipment and prevent costly repairs and replacement units. 

Energy Savings

Boilers are huge fuel consumers. To maximize fuel usage, it is imperative that the boiler and burner operate as efficiently as possible. Regular maintenance and routine inspections play an important role in spotting and correcting efficiency problems with the boiler.

It’s the Law

In order to stay compliant with your state laws and your insurance company, you may be legally obligated to get CSD-1 safety testing and an annual boiler inspection. 

The effects of a dirty boiler

Cleaning the tubes in your firetube boiler will maximize heat transfer

Soot and scale are a by-product of the fuel and air mixture. The buildup of soot can cause corrosion requiring more fuel and reduce efficiency. 

A firetube boiler has tubes that carry hot gases while the tubes are surrounded by water that is heated. The by-product of combustion are deposited on the inside surfaces of the tubes and need to be vacuumed and cleaned with a brush. 

Conversely, in a watertube boiler the water runs through the tubes and is surrounded by the heating source. The water is heated to a very high temperature resulting in solids accumulating on the inside surfaces of the tubes. These soot deposits will cause the same heat transfer problem. In a watertube, chemical solutions or manual methods are used to clean the tubes. 

An increased stack temperature often signals soot or scale buildup. If you are regularly inspecting your boiler and recording data with a boiler log, an increased trend will flag you of the issue. 

Why Water Quality is Important

Water contains dissolved salts, which upon evaporation of water forms scale on the heat transfer surfaces, thus, reducing heat transfer. 

Low pH or dissolved oxygen in the water attacks the steel causing pitting of the tubes leading to cracked or leaky tubes.  

Maintaining your Feedwater System 

A boiler’s water quality is only as good as the water fed into it, so ensure you are providing quality feedwater. Corrosion is commonly caused by improper pH control or dissolved solids, or dissolved oxygen in the feedwater entering the boiler.. This can create corrosion in the economizer, cracked and leaky tubes and more. Corrosion can be minimized through routine cleaning, continued control of oxygen, pH and dissolved solids. A chemical feed program and monitoring program will ensure peak performance and high-quality feedwater.  

Deaerators are used to heat feedwater and reduce oxygen and dissolved solids to acceptable levels.  Automated feed systems supply chemical to water which results in consistency, reduces potential overdosing and waste and self monitors the system to make adjustments. 

Working with a reputable water chemistry company, like Frank I. Rounds’ Water Treatment Group will set you up for success for boiler system reliability, efficiency and safety.