Can Prescriptive Maintenance (RxM) Make Tube Cleaning More Efficient and Effective?

For industrial plants using water or fire tube boilers, maintenance managers know that boiler shutdowns need to be planned in advance to minimize plant downtime.  When a boiler is cold the plant is not operating at full capacity so the fewer times per year the boiler is offline, the better. Usually what drives the need for a maintenance shutdown is diminished boiler efficiency from fouled tubes. 

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How Boiler Cleaning Increases System Longevity

A boiler is one of the hardest working and longest lasting pieces of equipment in your facility. When properly maintained, boilers can keep things warm for fifteen years and, with older cast iron boilers, that lifespan can be well over thirty. In order to keep your boiler working efficiently for many decades, proper service and cleaning is a must.

Maintenance of the pumps and burners are critical, but special attention should be paid to the boiler tubes that, if neglected, can lead to expensive and catastrophic failures. The boiler tubes are where the water is heated (water side) and the fuel is burned (fire side). Maintenance staff have to clean both sides of the tubes to keep the boiler working properly.

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Neglecting Proper Boiler Maintenance Can Mean Major Loss in Efficiencies

One problem you see with boilers in large institutions such as schools and universities is that cleaning and maintenance can be overlooked. This is often because boiler maintenance is not in the scope of work for HVAC maintenance staff and falls in the scope for the plumbing staff, who often don’t realize it’s part of their duties. It’s also often a misconception of staff that the highly intuitive controls that most new boilers have will prevent issues and send alerts when they occur, but controls are primarily responsible for boiler function boiler maintenance is still imperative for optimal operation. Otherwise, a boiler can sit for years, gathering scale and dirt that affects performance and can even cause premature malfunctions and breakdowns.

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Why Removing Calcite (Limestone) from Landfill Leachate Systems’ Lines Require Specialized Descaling Chemicals

Calcite clogging is a major problem in the industry. This type of scale is typically associated with pipes, heat exchangers or other water handling equipment in general industry but it is also true that landfill channels can also become completely clogged with limescale. Typically the problem is ignored in landfills until it is too late and leachate channel systems become clogged resulting in back-ups of leachate flow. Ignoring the problem when signs of clogging are starting to happen only creates bigger headaches down the road. 

When it comes to cleaning calcite deposits in your leachate lines, there’s no better option than an industrial strength, specialized chemical descaler.  According to Goodway’s Director of Liquid Solutions, Ray Field, “It’s well documented that an inhibited acid descaler is the product of choice in these cases.” The main advantage to a chemical descaler is its ability to permeate throughout the entire leachate collection piping system. Alternatives like high-pressure water jetting may reach inside the first 75 feet of piping, but after that the scale down the channel is so deep that water jetting can’t get to the worst areas of scale. It then becomes a pervasive problem within the entire leachate network in the landfill.

Other alternatives include commodity acids — for example, commodity grade and concentrated sulfuric acid. But this can make a limescale headache even bigger. When adding sulfuric acid to calcite-clogged pipes, you’re going to end up turning your leachate lines into gypsum (or calcium sulfate). That’s a million times worse than even the worst limescale problem!

Power plants (and any associated landfills) provide an additional challenge. Each involve massive amounts of water. What’s more, they share a symbiotic relationship with regard to methane gas. Power plants pay landfills for their methane gas. When their leachate lines become clogged, methane metering from the landfill slowly chokes off — along with the amount of revenue going to the landfill from the power plant. That’s a direct result of letting calcium carbonate build up and going unchecked in a landfill leachate collection system. 

Certain chemical descalers are not only safe, but also dissolve mineral deposits extremely fast. For example, Goodway’s Scalebreak Liquid Descaler is biodegradable and dissolves calcium, lime, rust and other deposits from your systems. This particular descaler can be applied in a variety of environments that contain different materials, including steel, brass, copper, plastic and rubber. Thanks to Goodway’s customizable capabilities, Scalebreak products include special formulas specifically for stainless steel, maritime applications and potable water systems. Goodway also offers alkaline neutralizing crystals which allows lowering descaling acidity to meet your needs.

 Not only will specialized chemical descalers make systems operate more efficiently in the here and now, they will also increase the overall life of your systems with efficient and non-interrupted operation.

In the end, removing calcite from leachate lines requires customizable chemical liquid solutions for descaling — and maybe an aspirin or two if you’ve put it off for a while.

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How Chemical Descalers Clean and Maintain Boilers, Chillers and Cooling Towers

In this “Just Venting Podcast,” Ray Field, the Director of Goodway Liquid Solutions, discusses the physical and financial impact of scale build-up on boilers, chillers and cooling towers. Ray also provides tips on how to avoid expensive repairs, improve energy efficiency and decrease electrical costs by implementing an effective maintenance plan.

Chemically Inclined: The Case for Clean Boilers

Boiler cleaning is something most companies don’t want to think about — if boilers are working within operational limits it’s often easier to keep up with smaller preventative maintenance (PM) tasks but put off a total chemical clean until performance starts to suffer. The problem? Once scale forms on boiler surfaces both fuel and efficiency losses quickly ramp up. Here’s a look at the cost of scale and the case for regular chemical cleaning.

Fuel Failures

What’s the real impact of scale on boiler efficiency? According to the Department of Energy (DoE), even “normal” scale at 1/32 inch thickness produced by low-pressure applications leads to a two percent fuel loss. In high pressure applications, the resulting iron plus silica deposits can result in fuel losses of up to seven percent. And while two percent may not sound like much, the EPA offers a helpful example: A firetube boiler using 450,000 MMBtu of fuel (at $8.00 per MMBtu) over 8000 hours per year with 1/32 inch of normal scale means a yearly operating cost spike of over $70,000.

As noted by research from NC State University, the reduced heat conductivity of scale leads to big problems in agriculture applications: If left untreated, ½ inch thick scale can lead to 70 percent increased fuel usage and significantly reduce overall boiler efficiency. Simply put? Even minimal scaling is a major problem.

Calculating Clean

Chemical cleanings aren’t cheap — and require you to shut down boiler operations for at least a day. So how do you know when it’s worth investing the time and money and when you can afford to wait?

As noted by ACHR News it’s a good idea to conduct regular visual inspections of boiler tubes to check for scale build-up. Regular monitoring of flue gas temperature can also indicate a problem — if the temperature rises when boiler load and excess air are held constant, scale is the likely culprit. Other reasons to consider a chemical clean include one or more system failures due to corrosion, or if you replace a significant amount (more than 10 percent) of your boiler tubing. According to Hartford Steam Boiler, evidence-based assessments are always the best way to determine chemical cleaning needs; while time-based cleanings have the benefit of simplicity and regularity they can’t take into account the myriad factors — such as water chemistry, frequency of startup, shutoff and blowdown — which contribute to scale formation.

Once you’ve identified scale, the next step is selecting a chemical solution and deploying the product. Best bet here? Draft and follow a solid set of best practices to ensure your chemical clean fully penetrates and dissolves scale before you flush and re-ignite boiler systems. Given the cost and time investment associated with chemical descaling, it’s worth doing right the first time.

Bottom line? Scale is expensive and ruins boiler efficiency. Rely on evidence-based methods to detect build-up and immediately deploy a full chemical descale if your boiler shows any signs of scale.

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Subscribe to our Seasonal HVAC System Efficiency Podcast Series. This time of year our focus is on Boilers, Chillers and Cooling Towers. Also, check out our descaler calculater!

Burgeoning Biomass Boilers Demand Next-Gen Design

Burgeoning Biomass Boilers Demand Next-Gen DesignThe race for more efficient, green energy production has many countries—and companies—exploring options like solar, geothermal, wind, and water power. There’s another contender, however, one that isn’t quite as flashy or news-worthy: Biomass. This technology comes with some significant benefits such as an almost-identical infrastructure profile to that of coal-fired plants. But there are also challenges—as noted by ACHR, biomass boilers often require special handling to ensure they’re operating at peak efficiency.

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A Clean Boiler Saves Money, Energy

An energy-efficient boiler not only saves your facility money on its monthly utility bills, it also helps reduce greenhouse emissions and protect the environment.

background dollarPurchasing Energy Star-qualified boilers ensures they meet the strictest energy efficiency standards, which are set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. In order for a boiler to achieve the Energy Star rating it must have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating above 85%.

AFUE measures equipment efficiency. Products that have higher efficiency ratings usually include features such as electronic ignitions, combustion technologies, which extract more heat, and sealed combustion using air to fuel the burner to reduce drafts, according to the EPA’s Energy Star program.

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Facility Management To Do Now: Boiler Maintenance

Your facility’s boiler may finally be at rest now that the heating season is over, but that doesn’t mean that you should overlook your boiler’s maintenance needs. The perfect time to address any maintenance issues is when your boiler is offline.

heating engineer repairman in boiler roomProper maintenance is key to keeping your boiler functioning reliably. But as we explain in our past post, What You Need to Know About Boiler Maintenance Costs and Benefits, a preventative maintenance program also improves safety, minimizes downtime, decreases replacement costs and reduces energy and water usage.

A boiler inspection should occur regularly, at a minimum of once a year. Energy Manager Today recommends checking the boiler for leaks and proper functioning of valves, controls, safety devices, and indicators as part of a standard boiler maintenance program.

Any parts that are not functioning properly can put the boiler at risk of major damage. Additionally, during the inspection look for any signs of corrosion or overheating. These are potential warning signs that the boiler is not working properly and you should repair it promptly.

In the introduction to our checklist, How to Clean Industrial Boilers, we explain that fuel consumption within a boiler can increase by up to 5% because of scale, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Dirty boiler tubes affect efficiency in both old and new systems. Facility managers must include boiler tube cleaning as part of their preventative maintenance plans. Preventing scale build up in a boiler can reduce energy costs as well as reduce the cost of repairs and lengthen the system’s lifespan.

Goodways offers a variety of brushes and scraper tools that attach to our cleaning tools to remove light deposits as well as thick deposits and everything in between.

Our liquid descaler product breaks up the toughest deposits. Our descaler equipment with pH analysis automatically descales while it monitors pH. The equipment injects chemicals as needed until the boiler is completely clean.

With Goodway’s boiler tube cleaning tools, it’s possible to descale a boiler in as little as an hour. Goodway is a global leader in boiler cleaning products, using the latest technologies and innovations to bring you the cleaning tools that enable you to clean your boiler as quickly as possible.

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What You Need to Know About Boiler Maintenance Costs and Benefits

An article in highlights the benefits of preventative maintenance programs for boilers. The article explains such programs provide great benefits to building managers by improving safety, minimizing downtime, decreasing replacement costs, and reducing energy and water usage.

But before instituting a plan, a building manager should still take the time to determine if using a program will prove beneficial enough, considering the costs.

Preventative maintenance programs for boilers are most beneficial if the failure rate of the system as well as the cost of the program are less than the cost of repairs or other corrective action, according to the article

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