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Stay Warm with a Well Maintained Boiler

Posted on January 21, 2015 by Bill Skubik in Maintenance

Although church maintenance may at times seem overwhelming, boiler maintenance should be at the top of the list.  If your church has boiler heat, it is best to work with a qualified professional to ensure reliability and safety.  Inefficient operation means wasted energy and increased costs.    With proper care, your boiler will provide years of warmth to your congregation and community.

The easiest step to boiler maintenance is to check the system at least once a week to monitor indicator lights and alarms.  When the need arises, church staff should never attempt to work on a malfunctioning system.  Repairs should be addressed by the expertise of a qualified professional.  At minimum, it is suggested to have your building’s boiler professionally inspected at the onset of each heating season.

After initial startup, monitor the system frequently to maintain that all water levels and operating conditions are stable. A boiler should not be ignored in the days and weeks after startup; this is the period when most incidents occur.

General Maintenance

For starters, the boiler room should be kept dry and clean.  Furnace rooms are not general storage rooms (especially for lawnmowers and snow throwers). Combustible materials should never be stored in this room. The heating surfaces, firebox, ash pit, casing and ducts should be cleaned of all deposits. Dirty internal surfaces waste fuel and can lead to burning, bulging, cracking, corrosion and even explosion of the system. All mechanical equipment, such as pumps and fans, should be inspected and properly greased. Also, a detailed record of the system should be maintained.

Relief Valve

The main component of boiler safety is a properly functioning relief valve.  This valve protects the boiler against a thermal explosion.  When internal pressure rises to a dangerous level, the valve opens and releases excess water.  Professional inspectors should check that the valve is clean and working properly.  The valve should also be tested after maintenance is performed on the boiler and at the testing intervals recommended by the boiler manufacturer.

Water Supply

Water supply can also adversely affect efficiency.  A low water supply will result in a controlled cutoff.  This control should be regularly monitored to make sure that the boiler is working properly.  Supply trouble typically begins with a small leak, leading to puddles on the floor and causing expensive damage to your system. If the low water situation is left undetected or ignored, it can be disastrous. In addition to not having heat in your building, the system may be damaged to a point of necessary replacement.  If your system requires additional water, have an inspection performed as soon as possible. Corrective action can be taken to keep a minor leak from becoming a major repair.

Water Temperature & Quality

In addition to low water supplies, water temperature must be carefully monitored to avoid unnecessary boiler repair costs or danger to building occupants.  It is wise to keep water in the temperature range recommended by the manufacturer.  Poor water quality is also a major boiler issue. Anti-corrosion water treatments are required for all low-pressure steel boilers. Cast-iron boilers must use pure water and have as few leaks as possible. Your boiler maintenance technician can sample and test the quality of water used in your system.

Laws & Permits

Boiler-inspection laws are getting stricter nationwide.   Please check with local and state governmental authorities in your state regarding applicable regulations.

Insurance

Some insurance companies offer equipment breakdown coverage should a boiler-related accident occur.  Check with your provider to be sure you have adequate coverage.

It is easy to take a boiler that runs smoothly and operates without problem for granted. Often the focus is on energy conservation and steady operation; it should also be on taking the proper steps to regulate safety. To keep your system operating properly and safely, stick to a regular maintenance schedule and hire a trusted professional for regular inspections.


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