As a plant operator, you know that equipment at your facility requires maintenance. You undoubtedly know that thermal fluid heaters need a certain amount of maintenance to ensure safe, trouble-free operation and long life. Even so, unless you have a rigorous maintenance program, important maintenance needs likely are to be overlooked. For example, when was the last time you did a leak test on block valves in the fuel train on your fired heater? When was the last time its burner was tuned? When was the last time the thermal fluid in your system was analyzed for deterioration?
When service technicians check heaters that have been in operation for a while, they frequently find several items that have not been properly maintained. In some cases, the heaters have become unreliable due to poor maintenance. When properly maintained, thermal fluid heaters are extremely reliable and long lived. They rarely fail to start up and adequately heat the thermal fluid flowing through coils in the heater.