As the end of heating season nears, proactive property managers and building operators in NYC should be planning their steam boiler maintenance schedule. Planning ahead allows you to schedule maintenance when it’s most convenient for you, allows you to get the best pricing from your vendors, and gives you time to address issues in the off-season.
5 Categories of Proper Boiler Maintenance
- 1. Water Treatment (during operation and after the heating season)
- 2. Fireside Cleaning
- 3. Waterside Cleaning & Boilout
- 4. Burner Overhaul
- 5. NYC Compliance Requirements
For building owners, and condo or co-op board members who may not be familiar with the importance of each of these categories, we describe each task below with a focus on why each is important.
Water Treatment –
WHAT: This recurring service is designed to prevent corrosion and minimize scale formation. In all boilers, regardless of the design, the combination of heat, water, oxygen and time all lead to corrosion. Corrosion cannot be stopped, but with a proper water treatment regimen, applied consistently, you can slow corrosion to very low rates.
WHY: Slowing corrosion is of supreme importance to maximize the lifespan of your equipment. If corrosion goes unchecked, the boiler will rust, tubes will leak, and the unit will be prone to breakdowns, run much less efficiently, use more fuel, and ultimately need to be replaced prior to the end of its planned useful life.
Fireside Cleaning –
WHAT: This annual service is needed to remove soot and slag build up on the heat transfer surfaces inside of your boiler. In any boiler, the burning of fuel causes soot creation. The heat transfer surfaces, typically referred to as the “tubes” or “sections”, is where the soot will land inside the boiler. This soot must be brushed out and vacuumed away at least annually.
WHY: A layer of soot will cause the boiler to use more fuel costing the building operators more money and resulting in a lower LL84 energy benchmarking score. In addition, soot build-up can accelerate corrosion, referred to as under-deposit corrosion. Finally, the annual fireside cleaning is one of the few times anyone will visually inspect the inside of your boiler. Leaking tubes, cracked sections, broken refractory, etc. are harmful issues that need to be discovered before the boiler breaks down. The internal inspection is an invaluable benefit of the fireside cleaning.
Waterside Cleaning & Boilout –
WHAT: Cleaning sludge, sediment, and mud from the waterside of your steam boiler is as important, if not more important than cleaning the fireside of the boiler. While the steam creation process causes a build-up of impurities on the waterside of your boiler, sediment and corrosion products from the condensate system will add to the sludge. Overtime, the impurity levels increase to unhealthy levels, causing sediment or sludge to develop on the heat transfer surfaces and on the bottom of the boiler.
WHY: More fuel will be required as the heat tries to travel through the sludge to heat the water, which greatly reduces the efficiency of the boiler and increases the fuel bills. Also, underneath the sediment/sludge build up, metal will corrode faster. It’s important to keep the waterside of the boiler clean to maximize efficiency and eliminate the accelerated corrosion that happens under the sludge.
Burner Overhaul –
WHAT: during the heating season, burners are constantly working. Burners are intricate pieces of equipment; many of the burner parts are subject to wear and tear and need replacement. Other parts require calibration, or tuning, to maintain efficiency.
WHY: Parts must be replaced annually to prevent a burner from breaking down, eventually on the coldest day of the year. In addition, the burner overhaul will recalibrate the equipment to maximize efficiency and reduce fuel costs. A burner that is not tuned up will burn fuel extremely inefficiently and build up more soot, costing even more fuel and more money.
NYC Compliance Requirements –
WHAT: NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have certain requirements for most boilers in NYC to maintain safety standards and maintain efficiency to control carbon emissions. These checks must be completed annually:
- Boiler inspection focused on code compliance and safety
- Tune-up and efficiency test (followed by a triennial inspection/registration)
WHY: Each of the DOB or DEP requirements benefit the building operators by way of ensuring safe operation as well as maximizing efficiency. Failure to be compliant can lead to costly fines and liability fees.
Hire the Boiler Care Experts
As boiler care experts headquartered in NYC for nearly 100 years, The Metro Group can be your trusted advisor, and vendor for any of the items above. Let us help you keep your building efficient, safe, and warm. For more information or for a free quote, visit our boiler maintenance services and repairs page.