With the summer heat bearing down on most parts of the country, it’s a perfect time of the year for facilities managers and their staffs to do the one thing that ensures their buildings will stay warm reliably during the colder months of the year: preventative maintenance on their boilers.
Not only is summer the most optimal time to work on boilers at commercial and institutional facilities, a consistent program accomplishes a number of things, such as lowering utility costs, reducing replacement costs, lessening downtimes and increasing safety.
However, some facilities management experts aren’t completely sold on annual boiler maintenance. Why? Simply put, maintenance can be pricey. Many believe facilities managers may need to weigh the benefits against the costs.
This might be a good point. According to the Federal Energy Management Program’s Operations and Management (O&M) Best Practices Guide, most buildings are equipped with one of three kinds of boilers:
- Fire-tube machines that rely on hot gases traveling through the boiler inside tubes submerged in water.
- Water-tube boilers that are equipped with small tubes that can better withstand higher pressures than larger vessels in the fire-tube boiler.
- Electric boilers efficiently produce stream or hot water that can generate up to 50,000 kilowatts of power and provide enough heat for all HVAC requirements for applications, running the gamut from primary sources of heat to humidification.
Still, the savings in water and electricity, shorter downtimes during maintenance periods and better inventory management are compelling reasons as to why a facilities manager should schedule boiler inspections every year, at the very least.
Another incentive to conduct boiler inspections and maintenance as often as possible: Heading off potential safety risks. A 1999 study cited 22 serious safety-related incidents related to boiler and pressure vessel safety. Of that number, 11 were directly related to poor maintenance or operator error.
Also, the guide cited a list of 10 general requirements to maintain a safe and efficient boiler room developed by the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors. Among the top common-sense requirements:
- Ensure all personnel are trained on all operating and maintenance procedures.
- Maintain a clean boiler room, and remove all dangerous materials from the area.
- Schedule an appointment with a licensed inspector after all boiler repairs and equipment has been installed.
- Watch all new equipment closely after a startup, until efficiencies and safety are clearly verified.
For more information about boiler maintenance, contact Vanguard Resources.