Are Boilers Dangerous? (+What Makes Them Dangerous)

In this article, I will share if boilers are dangerous and some things that can make them unsafe.


What you need to know is that the safety of the boilers is the first that we have to consider before installing any boiler in our building or plant.


If you want to install a boiler for the purpose of heating your home or use steam for energy generation then you have to be cautious and know the measures that complicate the safety of the boilers.


Are boilers dangerous? Modern boilers are not dangerous because of the numerous control they have, the sensors and the valves installed on them. All these components mounted on the boilers ensure that they are safe for use in domestic or commercial sections.


With the control elements coming with these boilers it ensures that we can monitor and adjust changes within the boiler in just a second and put everything at ease.


On the other hand, if there is something that wasn’t set correctly when starting up the boiler, there are sensors that can measure that and give a warning or provide a correct measure.


You see! With this kind of component mounted on the boilers, it’s very rare for accidents to happen.


When you purchase the boiler, there are so many processes that the boiler will have to go through before even installing it.


There are the manuals of the boiler that will be given to you to ensure that you get everything right.


The testing of the boiler even before you move it to your building or plant.


And once it reaches your building or plant there is a proper installation done to ensure that the boiler is not dangerous at all.


After that, we have the trials and check how the boiler operates. All these things are done to ensure that boilers are safe to use.


There are so many things that happen before the boiler is installed when it’s installed and also during the operation.


All these things contribute to the safety of the boiler. So, relax and don’t worry about a thing since modern boilers (water tube and fire tube boilers) are safe for use.


You might like this: Boilers: Components, Types & Working Principle


Boilers are safe to use but if their maintenance is neglected they can cause very huge accidents.


Let me share some of the things that make boilers dangerous when their maintenance is neglected.


But you also have to know that it’s not only the negligence that makes boilers dangerous but also the human installing and operating them.


Without wasting time, let me share some of the things that make these boilers dangerous.


This is what makes boilers dangerous

These are some of the reasons why boilers can be dangerous when neglected;

 1. Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide accumulation.

Carbon monoxide accumulation in a plant or a building can result in the deaths of so many people.


This gas is poisonous and the worst thing about it is that it’s hard to detect it.


If this gas accumulates in the building it’s going to be a game over for the workers or the people staying in that building.


Carbon monoxide displaces oxygen from the blood and we both know what happens when that occurs.


Carbon monoxide accumulation is usually caused by incomplete combustion of the fuel due to low oxygen content, poor mixing of the fuel with air which can be an issue with your firing method, insufficient residence time, poor preheated air used in the combustion system and low total excess air.


You might like this: Air Preheaters in Steam Boilers: Function, Types and Working Principles


All these can result in the production of carbon monoxide which is really fatal to the health of the workers or occupants.


Also, it can be that your boiler ticks all these causes I have talked about but there is an issue with the stack installation.


If the stack is not correctly fitted this can result in carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide accumulating in the building.


And this will end up making the boilers dangerous.


The other thing is the location of the chimney, if it’s wrongly placed then it can also result in carbon monoxide accumulating in the building.


So, you see the tiny things that can make these boilers dangerous if proper care is not taken while operating and installing them?


2. Overheating.

Overheating is another issue that makes boilers very dangerous if it’s not handled immediately.


This is something that is likely to happen since combustion is taking place to generate steam.


Overheating of the boiler can be caused by faulty pumps, blocked heat exchangers, low water levels in the boiler and even scaling.


You might like this: Boiler Economizers: Function, Types, Design And Operation


A boiler pump is essential as it’s used to circulate water throughout the entire heating system.


This is to ensure that the water gets heated evenly and also that the hot water isn’t accumulated in a single spot within the boiler.


If the hot water is stuck at a single point simply because the pump can’t work, this means that other parts of the boiler will rack up heat since there is no water supplied and also the hot water accumulated in the boiler will cause overheating.


The economizer is also very important in reducing thermal stresses in the boiler.


The heat exchanger reduces the amount of heat in the boiler by transferring it to the air that is again used in the combustion of fuel.


When it’s blocked heat transfer won’t happen and heat will accumulate in the boiler to cause overheating.


If this problem of overheating is not fixed immediately, in rare cases the boiler can end up exploding causing deaths and injuries to people.


This issue makes boilers very dangerous if they are not maintained.


3. Water and steam leakages.

Leakages of cold water from the boiler can be a huge issue when it comes to the safety of the operators or occupants.


Water and electricity don’t go in hand, I know you are aware of that.


Can you imagine what would happen if the electricity came in contact with the water?


This is going to cause a very big problem for anyone around the boiler and even the building at large.


Apart from that, water leakages can cause corrosion and damage to the foundation of the boiler.


If the foundation is slowly broken down, the boiler won’t stand still anymore and this might cause accidents.


You have to remember it’s hot water in the boiler!


Steam leakages are also dangerous to the health of the operators.


The steam contains chemicals from the boiler, respiratory issues are likely to be experienced if the leakages aren’t fixed.


This is what makes boilers dangerous, but for this to happen you would have completely abandoned the boiler but kept it in operation daily.


4. High-pressure build-up than the expected value.

This is not usually a problem in modern boilers because of the presence of a pressure relief valve.


When the pressure is too high in the boiler, the pressure relief valve will open and let water and steam escape to the atmosphere thus normalizing the pressure.


But if the pressure relief valve is damaged and it can’t work effectively due to poor maintenance or negligence, the boiler won’t stand the high pressure.


And this will eventually result in an explosion that can take down the entire building.


That is if the issue with the pressure relief valve is not fixed with immediate effect.


This can be very dangerous! It will only happen if there is no proper maintenance of the boiler and the valves involved in controlling the pressure.


5. Soot formation on the fireside.

Soot formation is also something that can make these boilers dangerous.


The first thing that you should know is that it’s a sign that the firing method is faulty.


With soot, there is a production of carbon monoxide which I already stated how dangerous it can be.


The other side of things is that it’s flammable and can cause accidents.


Final thoughts


I have shared some of the things that can make boiler dangerous, but you as the operator also plays a very big role when it comes to making these boilers dangerous.


If you are responsible and take good care of the boilers there is no day they will cause a disaster.


So, proper maintenance, boiler trials and testing are some of the activities that are very essential to ensure that the boiler is in good working condition.


But if these are neglected then the boiler will end up turning into a nightmare you will never get out of.


Not trying to scare you but it’s mandatory that they are handled with care.


These are some of the additional things that can make boilers dangerous; operating errors, low water cut-off, wrong installation, poor steam distribution fitting, faulty design and poor controls.


You might like this: 6 Design Requirements Of Steam Distribution System


So, take note of these things if you want to be safe with your boilers.


Thanks for reading, if you have a question you should leave a comment. See you in my next article.


Related articles to check.

  1. Overfeed & Underfeed Stokers: Classification and Working Principles
  2. 10 Factors To Consider When Choosing a Boiler
  3. 6 Requirements Of a Steam Boiler
  4. Desuperheaters: Function, Types And Working Principles
  5. Feed Water Heaters: Functions, Types, Advantages And Operation

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