Preventative Boiler Maintenance Programs: Are They Worth It?

Preventative Boiler Maintenance Programs: Are They Worth It?

Boiler Maintenance

Preventative boiler maintenance encompasses the proactive steps you can take to help your system run more efficiently and safely. At its core, preventative boiler maintenance is designed to help you get the most return on your investment for several years to come. Let's take a closer look at preventative boiler maintenance, what it entails, and whether it's worth the cost.

Three Processes Involved in a Preventative Boiler Maintenance  

Any fundamentally sound preventative boiler maintenance program should include the following three attributes:

  1. Fireside maintenance

  2. Waterside maintenance

  3. System diagnostics 

Fireside Maintenance

The fireside maintenance step of a preventative maintenance program involves the manual cleaning of accumulated particulates on the boiler’s fireside. As heat gets absorbed, this process increases and makes the system more efficient. Fireside maintenance also helps the system maintain proper emissions. Major sooting is caused by incomplete combustion. If a technician recognizes it during the maintenance, it may indicate the need for the fine tuning of air-to-fuel mixture. 

Waterside Maintenance 

Waterside maintenance is essentially the daily monitoring of the quality of the feedwater. Technicians should monitor feed water to make sure it has low levels of dissolved solids, silica, iron, oily matter, and alkalinity. Waterside programs work to get rid of dissolved oxygen, which helps prevent pitting and rusting. 

System Diagnostics

There are a range of different system diagnostic techniques a facilities manager could implement to increase efficiency and extend the life of the boiler. If it’s a closed-loop system, the installation of meters on makeup water lines will help detect leaks and monitor flow. If possible, an automatic surface conductivity blowdown system can be used to accurately control total dissolved solids and optimize the recovery of energy. Regular checks of the boiler’s chemical makeup and checking insulation on storage tanks and piping are both advised. 

Industrial boilers should be regularly turned to optimize performance, which is directly correlated to reduced wear on components. Fire tubes and water tubes should be inspected and cleaned regularly to help reduce scaling. It should also be routine to inspect all safety devices, including pressure switches, pressure controls, primary and auxiliary low water cutoffs, and gauge glass. 

What Are the Benefits of Preventative Maintenance

Now that we’ve covered the core components of a preventative boiler maintenance program, let’s look at some of the core benefits. 

Increased Safety

Because boilers are highly volatile systems that use steam or hot water under massive amounts of pressure — in addition to oil and gas in some instances — they can explode to cause fatalities, injuries, and substantial property damage. Preventative boiler maintenance can help make sure your facility and employees are safe. It can also help ensure you have a healthy and safe working environment. For an added peace of mind, all safety systems are inspected and tested for functionality during preventative maintenance. 

Energy Efficiency

During preventative maintenance, a long checklist of boiler parts and components are carefully inspected and analyzed to ensure your system is delivering the highest level of efficiency. Some of these items may include — but are not limited to:

  • Gaps in the spark rods
  • Cracks to the tubes and tube sheets
  • Faulty electrical connections to prevent overheating
  • Irregular flue gas operations
  • Hairline fractures in the ceramic retainer
  • Lime deposits or buildup

All of these items can substantially cause the boiler to use more electricity, fuel, or water to maintain the necessary pressure or heat, which decreases efficiency. In addition, these items can cause even more expensive and dangerous issues down the line. 

By regularly tuning your boiler, you can ensure the combustion and burner are modulating properly, which prevents the waste of gases. An annual preventative maintenance check can even discover ways to bolster efficiencies. 

Compliance 

The National Boiler Codes mandate all commercial and industrial boiler be inspected by a licensed boiler contractor at least annually for low and high pressure steam boilers, while hot water boilers must be inspected every two years. Meeting this standard is a good place to start, but this shouldn’t be the only time you’re having inspections. 

Many of the high efficiency boilers like full-modulating, condensing systems include manufacturer recommendations that you have preventative maintenance checks at least two times per year. Ensuring you keep up with the preventative maintenance checks will not only prevent production loss and breakdowns, but make sure you have a positive experience during state inspections. You will be required to show documentation of the inspection on each boiler. 

Reduce Downtime & Added Peace of Mind

Preventative maintenance will help prevent downtime and loss of production. Making sure your boiler is properly functioning can help extend the life of the system as well. It can help you avoid costly replacements and repairs as well as minimize the danger and costs involved with a potential disturbance. While there is a marginal cost associated with preventative maintenance, you can’t put a dollar value on the peace of mind knowing your commercial or industrial facility is safe. 

Is Preventative Maintenance Worth the Cost? 

It should be stated that preventative maintenance programs do come with a cost. However, the benefits of a preventative boiler maintenance program almost always outweighs the cost. In fact, most managers will agree that preventing disturbances, reducing downtime, and increasing efficiency more than covers the costs associated with the program. Additional advantages of preventative maintenance may include:

  • Water and energy savings
  • Improved inventory management
  • Improved system reliability and safety
  • Reduced downtime during annual boiler inspection
  • Predictive maintenance cycles
  • Decreased cost of replacement

Contact ATI Technical Services for Preventative Maintenance

When it comes to keeping your boileroom equipment running as safely, efficiently and reliably as possible, the experts at ATI Technical Services can help! We offer a vast range of contracts that can be catered to your unique technical service needs. 

Contact ATI Technical Services today!

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