8 Main Areas To Focus On When Maintaining A Boiler

In this article, I will share with you some of the main areas one should focus on when maintaining a boiler.


There is a need to maintain a boiler if it’s to remain functional for a longer duration, increase its efficiency and prevent any accidents.


The boilers can be dangerous when neglected and that is why maintaining them is a very essential part.


You might like this: Are Boilers Dangerous? (+What Makes Them Dangerous)


It’s going to be very hard for one to maintain the boilers if the areas needed to focus on are unknown.


Those who maintain boilers on their own without the supervision of an expert may end up focusing on a single part and forgetting other aspects of maintenance that matter.


Every part of the boiler needs to be maintained, starting from the boiler shell to the steam distribution lines.


A tiny fault in the boiler might render it useless, drop the efficiency of the boiler or cause massive accidents.


Without wasting time, let me share some of the main areas one should focus on when maintaining a boiler.


These are the main areas to focus on when maintaining a boiler;

1. The combustion equipment

This is the first area of boiler maintenance one should consider if the boiler is to remain effective.


When it comes to steam generation using the boiler, the furnace plays a very big role in ensuring that this happens.


Without the heat energy produced by the furnace, it’s not possible to generate the steam.


And even when the furnace is operating the way we all expect, there is still a need to check how effective the heat energy provision is.


The furnace in the boiler can either build or destroy the boiler completely.


Minor tweaks and adjustments on the furnace can increase the boiler efficiency exponentially.


You might like this: How To Increase a Boiler Efficiency On A Budget


Negligence of the furnace can result in a decrease in efficiency and accidents in the boiler.


The combustion equipment of the boiler should be well maintained to ensure the boiler delivers the right quantity of steam with the right conditions.


Maintenance of the combustion equipment of the boiler provides the following advantages;

  1. The amount of heat energy produced by the furnace can be adjusted adequately.
  2. The efficiency of the boiler can be increased with the right maintenance of the fuel-burning equipment.
  3. Maintaining the combustion equipment of the boiler significantly reduces accidents in the boiler.
  4. The right maintenance of the combustion equipment leads to a decrease in the operational and maintenance costs of the boiler.


There are lots of benefits when it comes to maintaining the combustion equipment of the boiler.


If I start mentioning them all, the whole article is just going to be about the combustion equipment since it’s a huge topic of its own.


For now, the most important thing you should know about the maintenance of combustion equipment is the adjustment of temperature ranges.


The amount of heat energy that can be produced by the furnace is very sensitive to the steam generation and shape of the entire boiler shell.


The temperature of the furnace should be controlled effectively so that it doesn’t exceed the designed value.


Every measure should be put into place to ensure that the temperatures don’t exceed the maximum point because that can result in accidents and damage to the entire boiler system.


Cooling of the furnace can be done by ensuring appropriate ventilation of the furnace, introducing water walls around the furnace and controlling the amount of air entering the furnace and using the right firing method for a specific boiler.


All these are things that need to be done to ensure that the temperature of the combustion equipment doesn’t exceed the set values.


2. The water level in the boiler

Water is needed in the boiler to aid in steam generation. Without a doubt, there is no way you will eliminate it from the boiler.


For the boiler to remain effective, the water supply in the boiler should always be checked depending on the evaporative rate of the boiler.


The level of water in the boiler can either increase the steam generation or decrease it.


Without forgetting another important part; if the boiler doesn’t have enough water (the required level of water) it can rack up too much heat and result in accidents and even the damage of the entire boiler system.


The maintenance of the boiler also involves checking the water level in the boiler and ensuring that it doesn’t go beyond the minimum level.


This is what will leave the boiler effective.


3. Temperature control in various parts of the boiler

The temperature in various parts of the boiler should be well balanced to avoid any accidents and improve the operating efficiency of the boiler.


As I stated earlier, the temperature of the boiler and furnace should not exceed the designed value.


You have to know that the amount of heat energy produced by the furnace doesn’t end up in the furnace only.


The heat energy is distributed from the boiler either by direct or indirect means.


One should ensure that the temperatures in various parts of the boiler are even to keep the boiler at its peak.


This starts from the feed water supplied into the boiler to the combustion gasses moving around the boiler until they are eliminated from the boiler via the stack.


The boiler feed water should be heated first before being supplied to the boiler to reduce the thermal stresses.


You might like this: 4 Reasons Why Boiler Feed Water Needs To Be Heated


This is what will ensure that the boiler shell remains in shape for a longer period and it also increases the general efficiency of the boiler.


Air supplied to the furnace is also preheated to help decrease the temperature ranges in the furnace and increase its efficiency by allowing effective ignition temperatures of the fuel.


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


The steam distribution line temperature ranges should also be checked to prevent any distraction from the entire system.


Rapid temperature changes in the boiler can cause unequal expansion and accidents.


4. The water used for steam generation should be well-treated

As I said earlier water is the main ingredient in the boiler because it aids in steam generation.


The feed water needs to be treated if the boiler is to remain functional and operate with the right efficiency.


If you want to maintain the boiler, you should focus on treating what enters it.


The problems of scaling, priming, corrosion and carry-over; are all a result of untreated water entering the boiler.



Untreated water has impurities that can affect the steam generation of the boiler and even lead to accidents if the boiler is neglected.


You might like this: Effects of Impurities of Feed Water In Boiler (+Prevention)


For instance, when we talk about scale formation in the boiler, this is mostly a result of feed water not being treated.


What you should know is that scale formation in the boiler affects heat transfer and clogs up the piping system of the boiler (from the feed water tank to the steam distribution lines) and this can be a serious problem when it comes to the operation of the boiler.


If scaling is chronic in the boiler this is what might happen;

  1. The heat transfer in the boiler will be hindered thus decreasing the steam generation and affecting the quality of the steam.
  2. Overheating of the boiler shell and the tubes is going to be another problem that will be experienced.
  3. The maintenance of the boiler is going to be a huge task since the entire distribution system will have to be considered thus increasing the maintenance cost than expected.
  4. If the scaling is not checked on time it can eventually result in tube failure (especially in water tube boilers) and eventually result in an explosion of the boiler.


All these are some of the problems that can be avoided by treating the feed water.


Treating the feed water is a very effective way of ensuring the boiler remains in its right state and operates with the right efficiency.


When it comes to maintaining the boiler, the treatment of water should not be taken lightly.


You might like this: Feed Water Treatment: Types And How They Work


5. Soot should be removed regularly and ash should be handled accordingly

Soot should be removed regularly from the fire-side and at any location that the flue gasses pass by.


The heat energy from the flue gasses is recovered before it leaves the boiler by being passed through the economizer and air preheater.


All these are areas that can be affected by the soot from the flue gasses.


Soot is dangerous to the boiler in its own way because it hinders heat transfer and it can even result in unnecessary fires where they are not needed.


It’s hard to prevent the soot from attaching itself to the fireside of the boiler and to the accessories that I have just mentioned.


To maintain the boiler, regular removal of the soot will be required.


As long as the boiler is operating, the fuel will be fed into the furnace and a large amount of ash will be produced.


Unless the boiler uses gas, which is rare in most cases considering how expensive the gas can be.


You might like this: Advantages Of Gaseous Fuels Over Solid Fuels


The ash needs to be handled to keep the furnace clean and maintain a conducive working environment in the power plant.


The ash being removed regularly will also reduce the maintenance of the furnace since we have issues with clinker formation and slag problems.


Ash handling is an entire topic of its own that the personnel maintaining the boiler should know.


You might like this: 5 Systems Of Ash Handling: Components And Their Working Principles


For the boiler to remain effective the soot and ash shouldn’t be allowed to accumulate on the wrong sides of the boiler.


6. Lubrication of boiler accessories that create lots of movements

Don’t forget that boiler accessories also need to be lubricated if you also want to maintain the boiler.


This is an area that most people forget and focus so much on other parts without also understanding that it can significantly affect the working of the boiler.


Let me just mention some of the boiler accessories that need lubrication so that you understand what I mean.


The boiler has several pumps that are used to pump the feed water to the tanks and even in the boiler.


There is also another pump that is located in the steam condenser that helps in the extraction of air; it also needs to be lubricated.


You might like this: How Air May Enter The Steam Condenser And Its Effects


Another pump that is located around the condenser is used to pump the condensate out of the steam condenser and also supply the cooling water.


Failure of any of these pumps in a boiler will result in a huge problem even if the other sides of the boiler are working expectedly.


The pumps should be inspected and repaired if they have any faults. The lubrication is necessary to ensure their smooth working.


The stokers also need to be lubricated because they have lots of moving parts.


As you know, the stockers play a big role in the entire combustion system of the boiler.


You might like this: Overfeed & Underfeed Stokers: Classification and Working Principles


The pulverizers, pulverizing mills, fans etc. should be lubricated to ensure that they operate smoothly.


Maintaining these accessories of the boiler will ensure that the overall shape of the boiler is also maintained.


Failure of any of these accessories will prevent the optimum functioning of the boiler too.


7. Annual boiler inspection should be carried out without failure

Apart from the day-to-day maintenance of the boiler, an annual inspection of the boiler is necessary.


There are some problems that can’t be fixed by the daily maintenance of the boiler.


They will need thorough inspection and work to keep the boiler at its peak.


That is why a budget should always be there at the end of the year to maintain the boiler.


It’s through a thorough inspection of the boiler that one will be able to identify the parts, accessories or components that should be changed or worked on.


Also, through the boiler inspection, the boiler performance can be analyzed and checked to ensure that it’s top-notch.


This is another area that one should focus on when it comes to maintaining the boiler.


8. The whole piping system, valves and joints should be checked for leakages

The piping system of the boiler should be maintained to keep the boiler effective in its operation.


The water from the feed water tank has to be supplied to the boiler, this will happen through a pipe system.


This pipe system should be checked for any leakages to ensure that water is conserved.


Leakages in this piping system will affect steam generation since the measured amount of water entering the boiler will be less than expected.


Lots of resources will be used since the treated water will be wasted.


After the water reaches the boiler, it has to be converted into steam by heating it and then conveying it to the point of application or supply.


If the steam distribution line has leakages this will affect the overall efficiency of the boiler even if the furnace is 100% effective.


Steam leaking out of the boiler system will result in energy losses and the quantity of steam supplied will be lower.


You might like this: Type Of Heat Losses In a Steam Plant (+How To Minimize Them)


So, this means that the boiler will have to be overloaded and worked twice as much to deliver the required amount of steam since a large volume of steam is lost through the leakages.


This will only end up increasing the cost of steam generation thus increasing the operation cost of the entire plant.


One might take these leakages lightly but they have a huge impact on the boiler operations in the long run.


The joints should also be checked keenly to ensure that they don’t allow any steam leakages to happen.


These are usually the weak points of the boiler steam distribution lines.


They should be well secured to prevent any potential problems of leakages.


You might like this: Type Of Pipe Joint Selection In a Steam Distribution (Considerations)




The boiler needs to be maintained to keep its operation at the optimum and for safety too.


All measures should be taken to ensure that the boiler is safe for use around any facility.


Without maintenance of the boiler, there is no way it will provide the services needed at the right scale.


It’s clear that the maintenance of the boiler can be costly but that should not prevent anyone from doing this practice.


To reduce the maintenance of the boiler significantly, the weekly and monthly maintenance of the boiler should never be skipped.


This will ensure that the boiler mounting and accessories are in shape and it will prevent massive maintenance during the end of the year.


Thanks for reading, if you have any additional points or questions feel free to reach out to the mechanical nerd.


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