Maintaining Your Steam Boiler – Why You Should Do It and How?

Industrial steam boilers are commonplace across Australia and are found in essential systems in almost every industry, from hospitals to food processing. Boilers apply energy from sources such as coal, gas, or renewables to provide heat, hot water or both, and must do so reliably to keep processes running smoothly. Due to their importance, steam boiler maintenance is necessary for all industrial steam boilers if managers want to maximise uptime and minimise repair costs. 

steam boiler

Why Maintenance Is Important for Your Facility

Australian Standards AS2593 has a requirement for all steam boilers regardless of size to have regular service and safety checks – these can be five (5) weekly or three (3) monthly depending on the type of boiler you have installed.

The Standard sets out minimum requirements to ensure the safe operation of your boiler plant 

Steam boiler maintenance is critical for ensuring the optimal efficiency and safety of your facility. Following correct and regular steam boiler maintenance practices can prevent incidents from occurring and mitigate the chance of components failing (which can, in extreme situations, result in explosions). Proper maintenance of your steam boiler can also prevent hours or days of boiler downtime. Although maintenance works are an additional cost to the business, a well-maintained boiler with increased safety and reliability can reduce overall replacement and repair costs, avoid excessive and unpredictable downtime, and increase energy efficiency which reduces the consumption of resources. Thus, proper steam boiler maintenance can go a long way in not only keeping your steam boiler in working order but saving you money, extending its machine life, and avoiding catastrophic malfunctions. 

Best Practices for Maintaining Your Steam Boiler

Given the importance of steam boiler maintenance for operational efficiency and effectiveness, many industry experts recommend a maintenance plan that includes the following best practices: 

  1. Read the owner’s manual for the equipment

One maintenance tip that is often overlooked is ensuring you have read the manufacturing manual for the equipment you have purchased and installed. Paying attention to any specific instructions from the manufacturer and clarifying any questions you have with your steam boiler installers can go a long way. Having a holistic understanding of your unique boiler is important to ensure you’re not only maintaining and servicing it properly but also using it the right way to reduce the chances of malfunction or breakdown.

  • Monitor water quality and maintain proper water treatment processes

Although steam boilers are made of durable materials, corrosion and damage can happen to your boiler if the water flowing through your machine is not properly treated. Water that comes through your steam boiler contains impurities that can produce a hard scale that latches onto the metal and tubes of your boiler. This deposit build-up reduces heat transfer and causes corrosion – both of which will reduce the efficiency of your steam boiler and increase running costs. Ensuring the water inside your boiler receives chemical treatment can prevent non-condensable gases from getting inside the boiler and wreaking havoc. An example of this is oxygen pitting where dissolved oxygen in your boiler system attacks and corrodes the boiler’s metal surface. With sufficient damage to your steam boiler, a repair may not be sufficient, and you might spend more money replacing your entire steam boiler. 

  • Have a maintenance schedule and checklist

The best way to keep your units running optimally and avoid repairs is to continually monitor them and schedule boiler maintenance in advance. Your steam boilers should be regularly inspected by professionals for safety and identification of any weaknesses. Regular inspections can also identify areas of corrosion and threats of oxygen pitting. 

While most people think boiler maintenance can be left to professionals on a yearly or bi-annual basis, checking your steam boiler yourself on a daily and monthly basis can also help extend the machine life of your boiler. Some examples of daily and monthly preventative maintenance practices are listed below: 

Daily 

  • Inspect your boiler for leaking water 
  • Check temperature and pressure readings to make sure they are all within the designed range 
  • Listen closely for unusual vibrations or noises from the equipment
  • Perform bottom blowdown to remove sludge and sediment

Five (5) weekly or Three (3) Monthly

  1. Check pressure stat controls for correct operation.
  2. Remove, clean and adjust ignition electrodes.
  3. Open burner.  Check firebox and refractories. (only if cool)
  4. Ensure free operation of rotary or butterfly damper.
  5. Check burner linkage, locking screws and over-travel mechanism.
  6. Check burner controls and clean as required.
  7. Clean UV scanner cells and sight tubes and check operating voltage limits.
  8. Service sight assembly to ensure the gas-tight seal.
  9. Fire burner and check minimum pilot.
  10. Check all safety interlocks are operational.
  11. Check combustion and adjust to give maximum combustion efficiency.
  12. Check the condition of boilers and burners, in particular any sign of adverse wear and tear.
  13. Check filter elements and renew as required and approved.
  14. Report to a client on action taken and any general comments

Annually

  1. Carry out items 1 to 14 of the service visit.
  2. Open fireside and clean fireside of boiler tubes which comprises brushing and vacuum removal of soot. Excessive scale where present will be removed at an additional charge as per Tomlinson Energy’s standard rates applicable at the time.
  3. Inspect and repair refractories if necessary (patching where practicable with refractory compound).
  4. Reseal fireside.
  5. Check filter elements and renew the same as required.
  6. The annual visit for burners is as per the quarterly visit.
  7. Prepare boiler for inspection
  8. Assist boiler inspector as required.
  9. Report to the owner on boiler inspectors’ comments or requirements for repair or future operation

If you notice any problems or have any concerns, you should immediately report the problem to a service technician. In any case, the annual service should always and only be performed by an experienced service agency or qualified and licensed professional. 

Do you need an industrial steam water boiler serviced or repaired? 

Tomlinson Energy Service provides a complete repair and maintenance service for boilers 24/7, 365 days a year. Our experienced team of specialists will deliver unparalleled boiler repair and boiler maintenance service on-site to ensure your boilers continue to work at optimal capacity for as long as possible. 

Get in contact with us at Tomlinson Energy Service via our contact form or call us at +61 3 8560 0419 to ensure smooth steam water boiler service and repair.  

Quality and Performance

Tomlinson Energy have a dedicated management system with a focus on quality, safety and environmental aspects for all our operations.

With our ISO 9001 accreditation our clients are ensured the highest levels of quality will be delivered.

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