In areas that experience cold winters, their schools are often equipped with boiler systems as sources of heat. Relatively easy to install and more efficient at heating large buildings, boiler systems have been in use for over one hundred years. One of the downsides of boiler systems, however, is that they require constant upkeep in order to run properly – and if this isn’t done, boiler systems can actually pose quite a risk of causing damage to schools, as well as potentially injuring staff and students.
The Risks of Poor Boiler Maintenance
How boiler systems work is quite simple: the boiler burns natural gas, which heats pipes full of water. This water is then pumped through the building, flowing through radiators in each room in order to heat them. The simplicity of this system, coupled with its relatively inexpensive operating costs, is why they are such common choices for heating school buildings. Often, however, boiler system replacement is on the bottom of the school’s budgetary concerns. This means that many schools are using old, outdated boiler systems, making regular boiler maintenance all the more imperative.
Boiler systems that are not maintained can pose a number of issues. Firstly, it can allow harmful sludge to build up within the boiler system. This sludge is made up of deposits found in the water that the boiler system uses. These deposits can stick to the walls of the system’s pipes and, over time, grow to the point of reducing the water’s ability to flow through the system. The extreme buildup can actually cause blockages in the system, preventing water flow entirely and thus cutting off heat to areas of your building. If left unchecked, blockages can actually cause explosions, a rare but dangerous risk that has in the past caused injury to students and staff, as well as significant building damages.
A Steady Boiler Maintenance Plan is a Must
In order to ensure that your school doesn’t experience major issues with its boiler system, having a regular maintenance plan in place is a must. By performing these tasks on a regular basis, you can help to avoid major issues with your boiler system.
- Daily Tasks: Check for leaks. Depending on your system, either blow down the gage glasses (for steam boilers), the make up feeder (for low pressure steam boilers), or the boiler itself (for steam boilers). Check the burner flame and the control linkage for abnormalities.
- Weekly Tasks: Check the lubrication oil levels on the compressors, the strength of the main and pilot flames, the timing and failure cutoff, burner operation, igniter operation, and chemical treatment tank levels.
- Monthly Tasks: Check the air filters, and clean or replace as needed. Treat the system’s water, lubricate the bearings, test fans, test the interlocks, check the shutoff valves to ensure that they don’t leak, test the hot water cutoffs, and perform a pressure test.
- Semiannual Tasks: Perform slow drain tests, check the combustion control, check strainers and atomizers (steam boilers only), recalibrate gauges and instrumentation, check the flame failure system, inspect all of the burner components, wiring, valves, piping, and interlocks.
- Annual Tasks: Conduct a turndown test of the pilot flame, check all diaphragms and coils, clean fireside, and drain boiler system. Hand holes and manholes should be opened. Burners and fans should be cleaned, gaskets replaced, and valves should be tested for leaks. Have the entire boiler system professionally inspected so that adjustments can be made as needed.
An Easy Way to Treat Your Water
One of the most important parts of boiler maintenance is making sure to treat the system’s water each month. Help simplify your water treatment schedule by using our Boiler Treat ULTRA+, a complete boiler treatment solution used to prevent rust, corrosion, scaling and a host of other issues with complex boiler systems. Boiler Treat ULTRA+ helps to maintain your boiler system by eliminating harmful impurities in the water, preventing corrosion inside the boiler and its plumbing lines. It also creates a protective film on any metal part within your system, helping to prolong its life. In addition, Boiler Treat ULTRA+ also helps to maintain a healthy pH and softens water.
Help to keep your school buildings warm, and ensure that boiler problems won’t cause spotty heat distribution – or, worse yet, damage to your buildings, staff, or students. Use Boiler Treat ULTRA+ to help keep your boiler system operating at its best!