U.S. Water Services, Cambridge, Minn., is always looking for new tools to make a facility’s boiler system more efficient. One tool is a boiler inspection, which is a thorough checkup of internal and external boiler components in addition to the mandated inspections.

Boilers can be dangerous if not inspected and maintained properly. Each year, accidents, breakdowns and unnecessary shutdowns occur among industrial boilers. While boiler safety devices are designed to prevent dangerous conditions elevating into disasters, only proper boiler maintenance prevents the development of dangerous operating conditions in the first place by finding deficiencies before they become a serious problem. In addition to loss of life, boiler accidents can cause major structural damage to plants, facilities and equipment, resulting in thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in repair and replacement losses.

Proper boiler maintenance is not only a safety issue, but also an economic matter. Regular boiler maintenance and inspections can provide system optimization. Boilers are high energy users; inefficient operation means wasted energy and increased operating costs. A boiler accounts for a large amount of the plant’s energy budget, and even a small decrease in a boiler’s efficiency can cause a sharp increase in energy costs. Proper water treatment is a key ingredient to making sure a boiler is operating properly. Raw water impurities that occur naturally in the feedwater may cause corrosion or sediment buildup, both of which reduce efficiency. Impurities lead to wasted energy because they necessitate routine blowdowns. The cleaner the water supply going into the unit, the fewer blowdowns you’ll need.

Regular maintenance and inspection can also help extend the life of the vessel. Boiler downtime may force a manufacturing plant to shutdown operation and production, resulting in loss of income that can add up every hour the boiler is down. No plant owner wants emergency shutdowns or equipment downtime because boilers, or other equipment, weren’t serviced or inspected regularly.

U.S. Water Services Senior Regional Manager Steve Tapper has performed various boiler inspections throughout his tenure in the water treatment industry. “There are two important reasons to have U.S. Water Services inspect your company’s boilers,” he said. “First, when inspected by the state, the inspector is only looking to ensure the boiler meets state safety regulations. Second, because these systems shut down once or twice a year, this is the only time we can inspect the inside of the boiler to determine its efficiency and whether any modifications need to be made.”

It is important to remember that most problems don’t occur suddenly. They develop slowly overtime. So slowly sometimes, that they can be overlooked as the maintenance staff grow accustomed to the change without realizing it has taken place. Boiler maintenance logs are one of the best methods for keeping track of boiler maintenance. Boiler logs provide a continuous record of the boiler’s operation, maintenance and testing, helping to identify and detect changes that may have gone unnoticed.

U.S. Water Services provided this article.