What Makes Up A Boiler Inspection?
So it’s time for an annual boiler inspection. It’s common for a technician to open up and inspect the furnace, water side and low water cutoffs. This is an important chance to survey for cracks, leaks, scale buildup, pitting, corrosion, sludge and anything else that could cause long-term problems for your boiler. Most boiler inspections also include a hydrostatic pressure test.
But your boiler isn’t the only critical part of your system, and an inspection is the perfect chance to take a closer look at the other equipment within a boiler’s deaerator or feedwater system, as well as the pumps, motors and primary feedwater piping.
A Thorough Inspection Yields the Best Results
It’s important that the inside of the deaerator, vented feed tank, or condensate tank be inspected for signs of things like pitting or corrosion, sludge buildup in the bottom, or fouling/damage to the water level probes or float assembly.
The good news? Problems like this are usually the easiest to identify. Whether you have a spray head or tray type deaerator, it’s a smart move to examine those components to make sure they’re still in good condition. Additionally, if you’ve got a vented tank with a steam sparge tube, take a look at the condition of the sparge tube. If your boiler’s feedwater pumps have been sounding louder than usual, check the impellers for signs of cavitation damage.
It’s also important to have your blower motor and pump motor systems tested every once in a while. A megohmmeter reading can provide a glimpse into the condition of your boiler’s motor, especially if it’s near failing. In the event the motor is going bad, the downtime during an inspection is a great, convenient opportunity to have it rebuilt or replaced.
Don’t Forget the Feedwater Piping
Unfortunately, feedwater piping is often neglected during inspections. Many plants insulate their piping for increased thermal efficiency and to minimize hot surfaces in the boiler room. That’s definitely a great practice, but don’t forget that the insulation needs to be removed for periodic inspection. Even a small leak in the piping can soak the insulation and cause the piping to oxidize at a rapid rate, which will eventually cause the pipe to burst open.
An un-checked burst could require total replacement of large sections of piping. But by temporarily removing some insulation to check the condition of the underlying pipe, such a major structural failure can be prevented.
Fresh Combustion Air and the Environment
Your boiler’s combustion air intake system can also be easily overlooked, but it shouldn’t be! Any louvers that allow fresh combustion air to enter the boiler room should absolutely be inspected regularly. If debris from the environment, like plant growth, fouling from the facility’s production byproducts or even animal nesting materials are allowed to impede the louvers or air intake of the blower, the burner’s intake air will be restricted. That can negatively affect the burner’s air-to-fuel ratio and stop proper combustion from happening. Needless to say, it’s critical that the air intake air louvers are kept clear of any obstructions!
It All Boils Down to Regular Inspection
Your boiler room is its own industrial ecosystem that contains many pieces of equipment essential to its operation. During your next shutdown period for inspections and routine maintenance, make sure you take a careful look for items that aren’t normally on the maintenance schedule. Make sure all your boiler room’s elements are being monitored on a schedule, even if it’s not on a frequent basis.
Your boiler may be in great shape, but if the processes that support it fail, your boiler will inevitably go down as well! With regular inspection, you can make sure you’re the only one who decides when your boiler temporarily goes offline. And as always, if you need a little boiler assistance, WARE is always here to help. Contact us.