Anyone with sufficient knowledge of Boilers should know that using it comes with some maintenance issues. As a result of particles deposited inside it during operations, you will have to bring in technicians with boiler tube cleaning equipment to clean out the tube once in a while.
Basically, there are two types of boilers. These are the fire-tube and water tube boilers. In water tube units, water is circulated within the tube and heated by hot gases from the furnace until it becomes high-pressure steam.
On the other hand, fire-tube boilers have water surrounding them. Hot gas is passed through and this heats up the water. A Fire-tube system is more commonly used in large commercial facilities like schools, hospitals, office buildings, hospitals, hotels, factories and possibly in some ships.
In either case, operating boilers lead to the deposition of soot or scale within its tube. This is notwithstanding the type of fuel used whether it is coal, gas, oil or wood. Thus regular cleaning is not only necessary but quite important.
Why you should clean your Boiler Tubes Often
To keep boilers in optimum working condition, regular inspection and maintenance is required. One of the most mandatory maintenance practices is cleaning. Failing to clean the tube can have some negative impacts on fuel consumption, and the performance of the system as a whole.
Soot has 5x the insulating properties of asbestos. In just 2 weeks of running a boiler, about 1/8 inch of soot can be accumulated. This can lead to heat loss of up to 47%. Consequently, fuel usage is increased by up to 8%. Soot build up can also cause an increase in stack temperature. This reduces the overall efficiency of your system.
If this is allowed to continue, the system will eventually break down. This is bad news because the cost of repairing the system can be up to 10 times more than the cost of maintaining the unit. Regular cleaning will reduce fuel consumption, increase output and minimize damage to your heating system.
How Often Should You Clean Boiler Tubes?
Regular maintenance of boilers is recommended. But how frequently should this be? There is indeed no standard stipulation of how often you should clean the tubes. The frequency is largely dependent on the environmental conditions in the area where the system operates. Thus, efficient system monitoring is important for the determination of the frequency of boiler tube cleaning.
An increase in the stack temperature is one of the indicators to look out for. You should measure the oxygen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide levels as well as the combustion efficiency of your system. All of these data will help determine if the boiler tube should be cleaned or not.
Read https://www.hsb.com/TheLocomotive/ChemicalCleaningOfBoilers.aspx to learn more about the pros and cons of chemical boiler tube cleaning.
CHEMICAL OR MECHANICAL CLEANING
Mineral deposits are otherwise known as “scales” are formed on the waterside of boilers. This can inhibit the flow of water and affect heat transfer. Removing these scales typically involves either chemical or mechanical methods or a combination of both.
Mechanical cleaning involves the use of scrapers, sandblasters, and brushes to get rid of scale buildups. The chemical process on the other hand, requires the use of acids or any other type of descaling liquid that can dissolve the minerals through chemical reactions.
Although chemical cleaning remains a popular and effective way of getting rid of slag and ash buildup, there are other methods that are widely used as well. Some of the other popular cleaning techniques include
- Acoustic methods
- Water lances
- Using soot blowers
- Explosive method
Learn more about the various methods of boiler tube cleaning here.
Either or both methods can be used depending on the severity of the buildup and the type of deposit to be removed. This depends mainly on the type of fuel being burned. Boilers that burn with Natural gas, gasoline, and propane are the easiest to clean as their buildup can be easily removed without using heavy scrapers. Those that burn wood, municipal waste, heavy petroleum fuel or medical waste typically have thick build-ups that can only be removed using strong brushes and other scraping tools.
Regular maintenance of your boiler is important to keep it running at optimal capacity. Knowing when and how to do so is also very important. Extensive monitoring of your system will help you in determining when to clean and which cleaning method will be more effective for your plant.