Boiler Level & How It Impacts Performance

| Edward McKellar

Boilers absolutely must be operated on level surfaces- 

Seems a fairly obvious statement right? Boilers rely on being level in order to ensure both safe and proper operations. This is especially true with mobile boilers that are delivered and connected outside and then face changes in site conditions. 

Surprisingly it’s not uncommon to find where a temporary boiler has been installed out of level. This can result in a dangerous situation resulting in serious personnel and property damage if not immediately corrected. First, let’s look at what’s going on that requires this level operation.

Boilers are pressure vessels filled with tubes that are creating heat transfer areas. Extremely hot flue gases traverse inside of these tubes (firetube boiler) and transfer this heat into the surrounding water. The boiler has been designed to have a normal operating water level. This level is usually only slightly above the top row of tubes inside the boiler.

The vessel’s operating line is designed to operate on a level surface. With such an unforgiving amount of space above the last row of tubes, even a slight deviation in level can result in problems. Tubes could overheat, blister, melt or rupture and, in worst-case scenarios become overheated and then flashed with water resulting in a shock-like possibly dangerous condition.


Temporary boilers are often requested, delivered, and installed in emergency or urgent situations. For this reason, some of the important setup and installation factors can be overlooked at the site. When a Power Mechanical Inc. rental boiler is delivered to your site, the delivering driver will verify that the unit is level prior to leaving. This will again be verified by the start-up technician when the temporary boiler is started.

Boilers create serious high temperatures and do so with incredible volumes of water. That being said, the ground that temporary boilers are parked on is of special interest. Prolonged situations on certain surfaces can result in slight to severe shifting of the ground which will create an unlevel situation inside the boiler so care needs to be taken when choosing where the boiler will sit.

When the parking spot for a mobile boiler is chosen, it should be done so with all these things in mind. The flooded weight of a large capacity trailer-mounted boiler could be upwards of 150,000 lbs. Considering this the foundation that it’s set on is extremely important.

Rocky ground, soft earth, and mud can create problems with getting the boiler level and keeping it that way. Asphalt can shift when extreme weights and high temperatures are exposed to the surface so this is something to be considerate of for certain class boilers.

Check out our cribbing & leveling video here for detailed information on ensuring your temporary boiler is installed and properly set at your site prior to operating the temporary boiler.

© Power Mechanical

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