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Boiler maintenance and contingency planning: Are you prepared?

With the cost of electricity and gas soaring it is important now, more than ever, to ensure that plant is running effectively. So, what can be done to ensure valuable plant is running efficiently and what can be done if in the worst-case scenario, it fails completely?

Steve Warne, national sales manager at Ideal Heat Solutions, looks at the issues: “If a boiler is not monitored regularly over time for efficiency when deposits including scale and bacteria build up inside the appliance, it may go unnoticed. The link between the amount of gas that the appliance is burning, and the monthly cost of that gas can easily be missed, especially if costs are increasing incrementally at the same time.

“We are seeing an increase in the failure of metal pipework systems all because they haven’t been maintained properly. Poor water quality is a hidden killer of systems. Preventative maintenance plans that include the regular monitoring of water quality could extend the life of a system because it can detect issues early before they become truly problematic. When metal pipework systems begin to fail, plantroom equipment becomes less efficient and requires more fuel to run, which in turn increases costs.”

Inefficient boilers can cost a lot more than the cost of a new boiler in the long term if it is badly maintained. Steve always recommends monitoring as a first cause of action. “Facility Managers should be proactive and have heat meters on their appliances to monitor the efficiency of their plant; they should also ensure water quality is regularly checked. Having a planned maintenance and replacement schedule ensures plant is working at its best for as long as possible. A ‘disaster plan’ is also essential,” advises Steve.

A ’disaster plan’ should: identify where temporary plant can be safely sited, how it can be connected to the existing system, and where pipe work will run. This means that if the worst should happen and plant fails completely that they are ready to act, reducing a facility’s downtime to hours rather than days.

Working on live systems also increases the risk of worker injury. “Working on any live system is innately dangerous, it is safer to work in a plant room that is cold and has its power isolated because otherwise one error can have fatal consequences. Of course, strict safety measures are put in place, but you can never account for human error, so there is always a residual risk. By using a temporary boiler, you can eliminate that risk. If something were to go wrong whilst working on a live system, a facility could be forced to close,” points out Steve.

“By taking plant offline and using temporary solutions people can save time and money in the long run. On a large site where there may be underground pipework which can be difficult to get to, we are able to breakdown the loads to take the site on and offline, helping to maintain the system and avoid having to turn off large parts of the network. This allows managers to keep their buildings and facilities running,” explains Steve.

Heat Exchangers within a boiler allow heat to be transferred between two fluids or substances, usually water and gas, without mixing the two together. This means they are essential components within a boiler. Deposits can form a layer on a heat exchanger slowing down heat transfer making it less efficient and potentially causing it to fail completely. Ensuring the heat exchanger is cleaned regularly as part of a maintenance programme is essential.

“We regularly clean the heat exchangers in our temporary boilers to ensure that when they are needed our customers that they are working efficiently and not adding to any issues. We also monitor our temporary plant when it is in situ so we can quickly respond to any issues that arise. We have our own maintenance schedules, and we build resilience into them.

“By building resilience into a maintenance plan like us, facility managers can be prepared for the worst-case scenario and have a strategy in place to avoid unnecessary closures and expensive downtime,” concludes Steve.

11 November 2022

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