Annual Steam Boiler Open and General Maintenance

One of the essential parts of maintaining industrial steam boilers is the annual steam boiler open. You can schedule maintenance checks every one to two years, depending on the kind of steam boiler you have. 

High-pressure steam boilers — those above 15 psi — need inspections at least once a year to maintain their function. Low-pressure systems can perform well with assessments every two years. Your steam boiler technician will address a few standard issues during the maintenance check and ensure that your system is ready to work until the next inspection. 

Steam Boiler Maintenance Inspection

You should open your boiler before the inspection so that the technician has easy access to the system’s interior. Remove the front and rear doors on the fire side. On the water side, remove the oblong plates covering the hand holes, which are only used for inspection purposes. The technician will perform two sets of inspections on each side. 

Be sure to remove all caps from the low water cut-off and the manway hole on top of the boiler before the technician arrives. Your technician should easily access all parts of the boiler, including the main water line and tubing. After the boiler is open, the technician will check both components. 

Water Side Inspection

Scale, sediment and other buildup are common on the water side. Your technician will look for signs of buildup within the boiler and on the connecting lines. This buildup can:

  • Increase fuel demand for the same output. 
  • Hinder valve movement. 
  • Create incorrect readings on sight glasses. 

Your technician will also check for pitting in the tubes. Pitting occurs from oxidation or chemical interactions and results in small depressions in the tubing. If left untreated, pitting can lead to leaking, and you may need to replace the tubes in your boiler.

Fire Side Inspection

On the fire side, the technician will check for soot buildup. Soot buildup impacts heat transfer, much like sediment buildup on the water side. A 1/8 inch buildup of soot can cause a 47% heat loss in a standard boiler. Your boiler will have to work harder to produce the same amount of heat, which leads to more energy use and higher costs. 

The technician will also check the refractory material and the tube sheet. They will look for cracks and other signs of damage that could lead to leaks. If there are signs of wear, they’ll perform a magnetic particles test to make sure the internals are safe and detect any potential leaks. 

After the inspection, you can put your boiler back together. We recommend using new gaskets after every inspection to ensure optimal performance throughout the following year. 

Contact McNeil for More Information 

McNeil provides high-quality construction materials and heat management solutions. We’ve provided superior service and supplies for furnaces, boilers and incinerators since 1937. If you need an expert’s advice to find suitable materials for your equipment, we can help. 

Contact us online today to find out more about our services and learn how to care for your boiler throughout the year.