Commercial boilers must be reliable and efficient because they heat entire buildings. Commercial boilers consist of pressurized systems that either burn fuel, either natural gas or fuel oil, or use electricity to heat water to turn it into steam. The steam moves throughout the commercial or residential facility via pipes and enters radiators or other elements that deliver the heat and make the building comfortable.
There are various ways to make sure that your commercial steam boiler works as efficiently as possible. To help ensure that your building remains comfortable and that your boiler remains in peak operating condition, you should take steps to keep it running as efficiently as possible. That’s why we have rounded up three of the best commercial steam boiler efficiency tips from top boilermakers and industry leaders to share here.
1. Consistent Preventive Maintenance
Because boilers operate under high pressure and contain very hot steam, you must ensure that yours receive regular preventive maintenance from a professional. Unless you have training in working with commercial steam boilers, you should not attempt to maintain them yourself. Steam leaks cause serious injuries or damage, especially because boilers can explode and cause injuries, death, or extensive property damage.
Specifically, preventive maintenance ensures the system remains in working order at the highest level of efficiency and that it works safely. Contact a reliable HVAC professional to schedule a maintenance inspection and implement a consistent preventive maintenance plan.
Allen’s Tri-State Mechanical recommends five preventive maintenance tasks to keep your boiler working efficiently:
- Regular cleanings – Debris inside a boiler will coat its tubes in scale, soot, water buildup, and other types of residue. Coating residue as thin as 0.03-0.05 inches thick reduces heat transfer efficiency by up to 10%. The more residue that builds, the less efficient the heat transfer, and the greater the chances of a breakdown. That’s why you should have an HVAC professional clean your boiler tubes at least once a year.
- Boiler blowdown – Calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chlorides, sulfates, and bicarbonates dissolve in water and create scale buildup. When scale builds up, heat transfer efficiency reduces, and the likelihood of boiler failure increases.
- Water quality – Water quality affects the continued operation of your boiler greatly, so you should regularly check and test the water inside your boiler for dissolved materials, organic matter, and returned condensate. Plumbing companies or HVAC services can assist in inspecting your boiler and its water quality.
- Insulation – Insulation helps steam boilers work efficiently. Condensate piping, fittings, or valves that are uninsulated lose heat, reducing efficiency and increasing costs.
- Maintain accurate maintenance and inspection logs – Consistent log-keeping helps you know which boilers were inspected. It also helps ensure proper maintenance and that even slight performance reductions are tracked.
2. Daily Boiler Inspection Checklist
In the meantime, there are some things you can do to check your boiler daily. It is better to keep an eye on it and use a daily checklist than to wait for a preventive maintenance appointment because a malfunctioning or inefficient boiler can cause damage or become costly. Applied Technologies of New York, Inc. recommends a daily boiler maintenance checklist:
- Inspect around and under the boiler for water leaks
- Ensure the area around the boiler is unobstructed and that no materials could obstruct it
- Check temperature readings and pressure readings to ensure they are within the designated range
- Look for error or service codes on the display panel; if there are error codes, record them and give them to your HVAC professional
- Clear the vent termination of debris, ice, or snow
- Inspect the combustion air openings for blockages
- Listen closely for unusual vibrations or noises coming from the boiler
Make sure you share concerning findings from your daily checklist inspection with your HVAC professional immediately; do not wait for your next preventive maintenance appointment. Also, hire your HVAC professional to conduct monthly inspections and quarterly intensive inspections.
3. Ensure Water Quality
A clean steam boiler is an efficient boiler. Because your boiler turns water into steam, it must contain water that is clear of oil or other impurities. Dirty water mainly causes two problems: wet steam and short cycling. Both problems waste energy and increase costs. Part of your daily boiler inspections should be looking at the gauge for indications of a dirty boiler. Look for water rapidly bouncing around behind the glass, as it indicates that your water contains oil. On the other hand, if water drips from the top of the glass gauge, the boiler is producing wet steam that will cause the burner to run longer because this type of steam does not heat as well.
To mitigate water issues in your steam boiler, have your water tested by professionals You also may require a full water treatment system to ensure the quality of the water for your boiler is high enough to prevent excessive corrosion, scale buildup, etc.
To ensure the reliability of your commercial steam boiler and keep energy costs to a minimum, you must take steps to help it run as efficiently as possible. Work with a professional, reputable HVAC company to conduct consistent preventive maintenance, use a daily boiler inspection checklist, and ensure water quality.