Effective Boiler Plant Management

| Edward McKellar

How to Optimize Boiler Room Effectiveness 

At Power Mechanical Inc. there are two things that we love, building boilers, and building people. That being said anyone with even a short tenure around our company is quite familiar with many of the leading self-development titles like Zig Ziglar’s “See You at the Top”“Think & Grow Rich” by renowned author Napolean Hill, and of course the ever-impactful resource by Stephen Covey “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change”. These along with many other great titles have changed the lives of millions of people around the globe by simply changing people’s minds and them changing the things they do.

“The little things in life frequently make the difference in success and failure.” Zig Ziglar, Born to Win. It’s the little things done consistently that add up to the big things that count. And we can apply this to a lot of things, especially a mechanical room.

So what is an effective boiler room? First to understand why increasing the effectiveness of a boiler room is important, we need to understand what effectiveness means. A boiler room or mechanical room is effective when it is operating efficiently, reliably, and of course safely. Optimizing on these three factors is what ensures that organizations will meet their operational and or production commitments.

Efficiency – There is a BIG difference between doing work and doing work well. Efficiency equates to doing things thoroughly and minimizing waste. Waste can translate into condensate, excessive blowdowns, heat or generated energy being lost, makeup water usage, chemical use, and downtime. Downtime, manpower, and of course fuel consumption are often the most considerable factors when evaluating efficiency. With recent global supply shortages, and understaffed organizations reducing waste and getting a bit leaner is never a bad decision.

Reliability – Zig even touched on this one for us- “Ability is important in our quest for success, but dependability is critical.” Ensuring that our boilers and related equipment are dependable for continued use through their expected lifecycle should be an overarching goal for facilities. This is achieved through having a strategic approach for boiler and mechanical room operations and maintenance.

Safety – There’s no property or operation that outweighs the importance of the safety of individuals working in and around boilers and associated equipment. At the end of the day, everyone needs to go home, in one piece. Proper maintenance, operations, and monitoring are the techniques that establish safely operating boiler rooms and connected equipment. If none of the above two factors are a concern, this should be the key motivator.

~ 7 Habits of Highly Effective Boiler Rooms ~ 

Now that we’ve defined effectiveness, we will look at the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Boiler Rooms.

  • Boiler Room Logs – A boiler room log is absolutely fundamental for effective boiler operations. If you’ve questioned “Should you be maintaining a boiler log?” the answer is yes. Boiler logs help operators, stationary engineers, and facility managers to identify both positive and negative trends within their plant. Changes in pressure differentials, increasing temperature, or higher readings from water tests like conductivity, are common line items that are monitored on a boiler room log. Changes in these factors indicate a need for further investigation or scheduling boiler maintenance.Boiler controls and industrial software advancements have made system monitoring much more convenient with programs and controls that can log boiler room data and identify trends. Many plants still however maintain certain boiler logs in order to ensure daily visual checks, maintaining accountability while decreasing complacency.  A boiler log is a fundamental piece to boiler operations that increases boiler room effectiveness.Effective Boiler Rooms Maintain Accurate and Detailed Logs. 

  • Blow Downs – If you follow our many channels then you will see a recurring theme on the importance of blowing down a boiler. With nearly four decades as a nationwide rental boiler provider, we’ve learned that this is often one of the most neglected routines inside a steam boiler plant. Performing boiler blowdowns at the correct frequencies allow for preventing the accumulation of solids that can deteriorate efficiency along with creating a very unsafe operating condition. If blowdowns are not being performed on a set schedule this should be a major priority.At a minimum, a boiler should be blowdown daily. This should include all valves of the bottom blowdown, all water columns, and verifying operation of the surface blowdown if required.Effective Boiler Rooms Maintain Strict Blowdown Schedules. 

  • Chemical Treatment – Chemicals use can often be neglected in a steam boiler system. Proper chemicals at the required dosage allow for certain contaminants that may be present to be reduced. Blowdowns along with mechanical treatment systems carry a lot of the burden in treating boiler water, yet it relies on chemicals often to finish the job.Partner with a local representative to get a water analysis of your plants’ boiler water. This would evaluate the water from its entry into the plant as raw water to the time it enters the boiler. A qualified chemical professional can determine what is needed for the system for optimum reliability.Effective Boiler Rooms Maintain Strict Chemical Dosing Procedures.

  • Trained Operators – Too often plants are manned by personnel who have little to no boiler experience. Boilers are like many other machines, if properly operated and maintained they are perfectly safe and can provide years of continuous service. If certain operations and maintenance requirements are overlooked it can create a dangerous situation. Unlike a chiller, air conditioner, or other HVAC systems, failure to perform needed maintenance and correct procedures can result in more than just a failed system. It can turn into a potentially unsafe operating condition.Who should get training on boiler operations? It’s not uncommon to hear customers say, they don’t work on their boilers so they don’t need boiler training. This is a misconception as even if third-party organizations perform scheduled or emergency maintenance, it’s your facility’s equipment. Understanding the design, functions, and best practices of these steam and hot water boilers is a fundamental step in having years of uninterrupted service.Effective Boiler Rooms Continuously Train Their Operators. 

  • Preventative Maintenance – Let’s Face it some plants just do not get the boiler maintenance they need to sustain. For obvious reasons, this creates an operational dilemma that could result in extended downtime along with repair and replacement expenses. It’s always cheaper to plan your scheduled boiler maintenance than to have a system failure.Contact your local boiler service provider and schedule boiler maintenance and repairs at needed intervals for the best and longest performance. If your boiler plant has not had maintenance performed as necessary a shutdown and inspection would be a good place to start. What is most important is to take action immediately on getting the best practices for preventive maintenance in place.Effective Boiler Rooms Perform Scheduled Maintenance.

  • Boiler Inspections – Most industrial and commercial steam boilers require an annual inspection. This is to verify the safe operating conditions of the pressure vessel. This is not only a best practice, it’s essentially the law. Most states and municipalities require an inspection at set frequencies to receive an operating certificate. This operating certificate may be good for 12 months or more depending on the type of boiler or other conditions. Each state, city, county, or jurisdiction may have unique conditions so it’s important to always review local requirements. Some jurisdictions may even require annual safety valve testing and recertifications. Contact the state or city boiler inspection office to find out the needed requirements.Effective Boiler Rooms are Regularly Inspected.

  • Boiler Parts – The recent events of the pandemic have tested the global supply chain, to say the least. Raw material and parts availability have seen severe increases in lead times paralyzing some operations. A practice that is long-standing with Power Mechanical rental boilers is keeping needed spare parts on-hand and at the ready. This ensures that a critical system will face minimum downtime in the event of a failure.Having parts on hand like waterside and fireside gaskets, a spare McDonnell & Miller control head, or even a complete set of boiler pressure controls could save your facility day or even weeks of downtime. The investment into a spare parts program will pay huge dividends when the parts are needed. Evaluate your plant for the controls and components that could easily fail and leave your system offline. Order boiler parts today and keep them on standby for minimizing downtime.Effective Boiler Rooms Maintain a Spare Parts Program.


Contact Power Mechanical Inc.. today for more information on optimizing your systems for peak effectiveness. With over 40 years of service in the commercial and industrial boiler industry, our services can keep your systems efficient, reliable, and safe for years to come. 1-877-764-7832


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