One of the many great things about boilers is how solid and durable they are. In fact, it’s not uncommon to get decades of use out of a boiler if you take care of it. But that’s the important part there. You have to take care of it. Some boiler maintenance you can do yourself. Some tasks require the help of a professional. Here’s what you should know.
One of the most important things you can do to prolong the life of your boiler is to keep your water quality high. That means treating hard water with a water softener to remove the impurities and minerals that can promote corrosion, scale, and buildup. Not only will these menaces eat away at your boiler, they’ll make you spend more money on fuel to get the steam you need.
An inline water softener uses sodium ions to pull calcium and magnesium out of the water supply, so they won’t make it into your feedwater. You can also supplement the work that the water softener does by adding additional chemicals to your feedwater that further reduce corrosion, promote steam production, and generally make your boiler last longer and perform with greater efficiency.
THERE SHE BLOWS
No matter how clean or well-treated your water may be, you’re still going to get some amount of dissolved solids, impurities, and minerals floating around. Since gravity affects literally everything on the planet, those floating particles will tend to settle at the bottom of your boiler. You can’t leave them there, obviously, because they’ll turn into scale and act as an insulator that hampers the heat transfer process. That means you’ll end up using more and more fuel to get the same amount of steam.
Because of these collecting particles, boiler blowdowns should be a regular part of your boiler operation routine. Every time you perform a blowdown, you vent that collected sludge out of the boiler, where it can’t hurt anyone anymore. Many boiler systems have automatic or continuous blowdowns. If yours doesn’t, make sure you’re performing one on a regular schedule. And always perform your blowdown safely, with the proper training and protective gear, and a safe place to drain your blowdown water.
A LITTLE ELBOW GREASE
One of the simplest and most effective maintenance tasks you can do on your own boiler is to clean it. By cleaning the boiler and tubes, you’ll help promote better heat transfer which translates to better efficiency. Cleaning the fire side will have the same effect, and it will also promote more efficient combustion, which will save you even more money over time.
Another important thing you can do to make your boiler last is to understand it. By taking online or in-person training at WARE’s Boiler University, you’ll know your boiler inside and out. You’ll know how it works, and you’ll know what to look for to make sure your boiler is operating properly. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to recognize issues when they arise, too.
WHEN TO CALL A PRO
While there is a lot you can do yourself to keep your boiler running, there are some things that require a trained professional. It’s important to have your boiler inspected regularly, and that needs to be done by someone who knows what to look for. If you need to have a malfunctioning or failed component replaced, that’s also best left to the pros. To help keep your boiler running efficiently, it’s also important to have the combustion tuned on a regular basis, to make sure the fuel and air are mixing and vaporizing efficiently, so they can burn more cleanly and effectively.
It’s also extremely important to have your monitoring and safety systems inspected regularly. If they aren’t working properly, your boiler could develop other problems without you knowing. You could lose efficiency, obviously, but you could also expose yourself to component failure and lost steam production.
Remember, if you want to do your own minor maintenance tasks, WARE’s Boiler Warehouse stocks a full range of parts, supplies, chemicals, and everything else you need to keep your boiler running. If your boiler requires some professional help, remember, WARE has highly trained technicians standing by to help. Just let us know how we can help.