March • 2014
Tips for Effective Boiler Maintenance
The operating procedure and maintenance of boilers are greatly dependent on each other. The maintenance process and cost will depend on the efficiency and cost of the daily boiler operation and vice-versa. This holds true for all types of boilers, irrespective of whether it is a low pressure, medium pressure, or high pressure boiler. Following are tips that will help maintain your boiler effectively.
The proper operation of a boiler will depend on many factors including control of temperature, time, oxygen, and turbulence. In order to optimize the operation, technicians must raise the temperature of the furnace to the operating temperature. The rate of fuel burning should also be maintained to produce the required quantity of steam per hour. Oxygen production and turbulence of the system, which is dependent on the operation of the boiler draft fans, should also be considered. The draft fans create a demand for critical emission controls to improve air quality.
Effective control of the boiler should be optimized with modern instrumentation. These instruments also provide the timely indicators, which emphasize the need for maintenance. While operating the boilers, technicians can collect information from the instrumentation and equipment, and prepare log books in order to detect trends at earlier stages. The data provided is often indicative of predictive maintenance as well as preventive maintenance. This is important in operating the boiler efficiently and at a considerably reduced cost.
The lack of timely maintenance will lead to the inevitable failure of boiler operations. The main reason behind the failure of boilers during operation is low water. This can lead to critical situations of boiler explosions. This scenario is caused due to the lack of proper maintenance which leads to a series of failures in the automatic control system. Without proper maintenance, the automatic feed device will fail at first, and this causes a condition of low water levels. This will be followed by a failure of the low water fuel cut of the system which becomes unable to detect the low water levels and subsequently stops the fuel supply. Finally, the safety valve will undergo a failure, thereby becoming unable to maintain control of the pressure build up in the system.
Even though the control devices of the boiler system are automatic, one should always keep in mind that they have only a fixed life span during which they will be able to operate to their maximum efficiency. Mechanical wear and tear, erosion, and corrosion of these control devices will ultimately take a toll on the boiler performance. So, regular maintenance is absolutely required in order to keep the system running smoothly.
To prevent the operating failure of the boiler, one has to follow four basic steps. At first, one needs to ensure that the equipment that is used matches the fuel used and the type of service that is required. The second step involves verification of proper boiler operation by checking the boiler equipment and installation on an annual basis. You should then specify in the contract that the boiler system is verified by a concerned authority. Finally, do provide technicians with log books to note down daily boiler operations and ask them to report any discrepancies immediately when they note it.
Maintaining Unit Heaters
Many small-scale operations make use of unit heaters instead of boilers. To prevent the failure of these heaters, you should perform an annual maintenance check. This maintenance is absolutely necessary to prevent water hammer and internal corrosion. The maintenance procedure will include treating the makeup water, checking taps for proper operation, and cleaning up the steam line filters and drip-leg caps every year.