Tube Cleaning and Operating Practices Work Together To Extend Boiler Life

You know that we at Just Venting are strong and consistent advocates of regular cleaning of your boiler tubes as one of the best possible ways to improve efficiency and extend your boiler’s operating life. But there are many operating practices that, when coupled with comprehensive maintenance, can even further improve performance and enhance operating life.

For more than sixty years, Babcock and Wilcox has made boilers and has also evaluated those that have failed. As a result, the company has developed substantial expertise in good operating practices. A B&W metallurgist has compiled a list of twelve things you can do to extend the life of your boilers and operate them at peak efficiency by reducing the causes of tube corrosion. We are especially fond of number 8.

As a service to our readers, here are his suggestions:

  1. Boil out the boiler with an alkaline cleaner after installing new tubes to remove oil or other coatings from the tube surfaces. These protective coatings are commonly applied to new tubes to prevent rusting during storage and transit, and will cause corrosion if left on the tubes during operation of the boiler.
  2. Bring a steam boiler to a good steam output as soon as it is filled to de-aerate the water. Heat the water in a hot water boiler to 180 degrees Farenheit for the same reason. A temperature of 180F will not remove all the air, but the majority will be driven off.
  3. Add sodium chromate or sodium nitrite – nitrate inhibitors to the water in the quantities recommended, both when your boiler is in and out of service.
  4. In greenhouses or in damp locations, put a tray of unslaked lime in the ash pit to absorb moisture and close the boiler. Inspect this lime occasionally and renew when it becomes mushy.
  5. Keep all boiler and system fittings airtight.
  6. Preferably, use a fuel with low sulfur content to avoid the corrosive action of sulfur gases.
  7. Brush, flush and dry out the insides of fire tubes as often as possible to remove soot and other products of combustion, and to prevent the accumulation of moisture and condensed sulfur gases.
  8. Use sodium sulfite regularly in the boiler feed water to remove dissolved oxygen.
  9. Use suitable feed water heater or deaerator to reduce the oxygen content of the boiler feed water.
  10. Prevent water leakage and avoid draining water from the system. Addition of make-up water results in loss and dilution of the treatment, and introduces air into the system.
  11. Don’t pressurize a hot water system with compressed air over large areas of water.

For more information about how he formulated his suggestions you can read the entire article. For more information about #8 (our favorite), take a close look at Goodway’s website description of the Soot-A-Matic series of tube cleaners.

Rich Silverman
Goodway Blogging Team

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