Boiler Maintenance Suggestions, How to maintain a boiler

Before boiler maintenance suggestions which speaks to how to maintain boilers is undertaken it is best that one understands boilers as a heating component.

A boiler is a closed vessel in which water or other fluid is heated. The heated or vaporized fluid exits the boiler for use in various processes or heating applications, including boiler-based power generation, cooking and sanitation.


The most common boilers in use are Fire Tube, Water tube and Packaged. There are also other specialized boilers in use.

Fire Tube Boiler

In a fire tube boiler, hot gases pass through the tubes and boiler feed water in the shell side is converted into steam. Fire tube boilers are generally used for relatively small steam capacities and low to medium steam pressures.

As a guideline, fire tube boilers are competitive for steam rates up to 12,000 kg/hour and pressures up to 18 kg/cm2. Fire tube boilers are available for operation with oil, gas or solid fuels. For economic reasons, most fire tube boilers are nowadays of “packaged” construction (i.e. manufacturers shop erected) for all fuels.

Water Tube Boiler

In water tube boiler, boiler feed water flows through the tubes and enters the boiler drum. The circulated water is heated by the combustion gases and converted into steam at the vapor space in the drum. These boilers are selected when the steam demand as well as steam pressure requirements are high as in the case of process cum power boiler / power boilers.

Most modern water boiler tube designs are within the capacity range 4,500 – 120,000 kg/hour of steam, at very high pressures. Many water tube boilers nowadays are of “packaged” construction if oil and /or gas are to be used as fuel. Solid fuel fired water tube designs are available but packaged designs are less common.

The features of water tube boilers are:

Forced, induced and balanced draft provisions help to improve combustion efficiency.

Less tolerance for water quality calls for water treatment plant.

Higher thermal efficiency shifts are possible

Boiler Maintenance Procedures

Packaged Boiler

The packaged boiler is so called because it comes as a complete package. Once delivered to site, it requires only the steam, water pipe work, fuel supply and electrical connections to be made for it to become operational. Package boilers are generally of shell type with fire tube design so as to achieve high heat transfer rates by both radiation and convection.

The features of package boilers are:

Small combustion space and high heat release rate resulting in faster evaporation.

Large number of small diameter tubes leading to good convective heat transfer.

Forced or induced draft systems resulting in good combustion efficiency.

Number of passes resulting in better overall heat transfer.

Higher thermal efficiency levels compared with other boilers. These boilers are classified based on the number of passes - the number of times the hot combustion gases pass through the boiler. The combustion chamber is taken, as the first pass after which there may be one, two or three sets of fire-tubes. The most common boiler of this class is a three-pass unit with two sets of fire-tubes and with the exhaust gases exiting through the rear of the boiler.

This boiler maintenance information can for the most part, be done by the building staff. Some procedures will have to be undertaken by skilled tradesmen but it is left to the discretion of the building superintendent as to when they should be called in.

The frequency of tasks is as noted.


Monthly Boiler Maintenance

  • Visually inspect fuel filter. Clean, repair or replace as needed to ensure proper operation.

  • Perform chemical testing of system water (open system). Treat as needed to ensure proper water chemistry.

    Quarterly maintenance

  • Perform chemical testing of system water (closed system). Treat as needed to ensure proper water chemistry.

  • Check fuel pump for proper operation. Repair or replace as needed to ensure proper operation.

  • Inspect blow down or drain valve. Clear all debris to ensure proper operation. Repair or replace if needed.

    Semi annual Boiler Maintenance

  • Check steam traps, pumps and controls. Clean or replace as needed to ensure proper operation.

  • Check control system and devices for evidence of improper operation. Repair, adjust or replace components to ensure proper operation.

    Annual maintenance

  • Check control box for dirt, debris and or loose terminations. Clean and tighten as needed.

  • Check motor contactor for pitting or signs of damage. Repair or replace as needed.

  • Check for fouling, corrosion or degradation. Clean or repair as needed.

  • Check for evidence of build up or fouling on heat exchange surfaces. Clean as needed to ensure proper operation.

  • Check for damper operation. Repair, replace or adjust as needed.

  • Check combustion chamber burner and flue for deterioration, moisture problems, condensation and combustion products. Clean, test and adjust combustion process for proper operation.

    Building Maintenance Checklist

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