As with most machinery, boilers require frequent maintenance for safe operation, efficient energy usage, and a long lifespan. But proper boiler maintenance might be more extensive than you think.
Even as a professional, it can be difficult to keep track of boiler maintenance as time goes by, especially if there are several maintenance workers with access to your boiler system or if your facility houses multiple boiler rooms.
Some pieces of equipment might need daily oversight while others require annual tune-ups, and each service should be documented for tracking and accurate upkeep. Without proper maintenance, the boiler may malfunction, spring a leak, or worse.
To improve the efficiency of your commercial boiler maintenance plan, make sure you’re equipped with a comprehensive boiler maintenance checklist to keep you on track.
The basics of boiler systems
In order to care for a boiler properly, it’s necessary to understand how it functions and why. Reading through the owner’s manual is an ideal place for manufacturer-specific care, but some basics are applicable to nearly all boiler systems.
There are a few different types of boilers, each of which can heat schools, offices, apartment complexes, hospitals, and other buildings. Boiler systems use a combustible fuel source (or sometimes electricity) to generate hot water or steam, and distribute that heated source through radiators, baseboard units, or fan coils to heat the building. Alternatively, boilers can also generate mechanical power or electricity.
As with other types of HVAC equipment, boilers have many separate components that contribute to the function of the whole.
Some of the basic boiler parts include:
- The burner: the heat source that warms the water within the boiler
- The combustion chamber: the component that houses the burner and burns fuel to convert it to heat within the boiler
- The controls: the central hub that sets and maintains internal pressure, temperature, fuel supply mixtures, regulates fuel consumption, and turns on the ignition
- The exhaust stack: a series of pipes that transport toxic exhaust gasses safely to the outside of the building
- The heat exchanger: the module that transfers the heat generated by the burner
Why perform preventive boiler maintenance?
A broken boiler is more than just an inconvenience. It can be costly and may put visitors and employees in extremely uncomfortable, cold temperatures, often resulting in closures. If you manage a school district, a broken or malfunctioning boiler might require you to shut down your school until classrooms are a safe temperature for students and staff. If you are in a manufacturing facility, your broken boiler could fail to produce the steam you require for industrial applications.
Whatever the situation, it’s best avoided—and can be with diligent routine maintenance. According to Joel Amato, Executive Director at The National Board of Boiler & Pressure Vessel Inspectors (NBBI):
Not only will regular boiler maintenance help avoid costly repairs and replacements, it can increase the lifespan of your boiler, maximize energy efficiency, and increase safety.
Common boiler problems
Boilers are powerful machines and should be treated with care and diligence to keep your facilities safe. In order to function, boilers require large quantities of fuel. They transmit pressurized steam through pipelines that can be dangerous under the right (or wrong) conditions. To keep these powerful systems running safely, boilers must be properly installed, operated, and maintained. Otherwise, they can leak, cause fuel-related accidents, and in severe cases, explosions.
Whatever heating system you use, whether you work with a steam boiler, water tube boiler, forced air boiler system, condensing boiler, or gas boiler, regular maintenance is key in guaranteeing a long, safe lifespan.
Some of the most common boiler system problems include:
- Poor heat production: caused by dirty or blocked burners, a broken ignition, a faulty thermostat, a broken pump, or a malfunctioning safety switch
- Leaking: caused by corrosion in the boiler tank, broken pressure valves, or an issue with the expansion tank
- Uneven heat distribution: caused by low system pressure and steam leakage
- Kettling or other abnormal noises: caused by low water pressure or limescale buildup on the heat exchanger
- Random system shutdowns: caused by thermostat issues, a blocked valve, loss of pressure, or a broken pump
Your complete list of boiler maintenance checklists
Daily Boiler Maintenance Checklist
Monthly Boiler Maintenance Checklist
Annual Boiler Maintenance Checklist
Periodic Boiler Maintenance Checklist
Creating a routine for boiler maintenance
Even if you know how to properly maintain your commercial boiler, it is still important to implement a routine maintenance system that helps you schedule, track, and document each service in a way that works best for your facility.
To create a customized boiler maintenance plan, consider these tips:
- Follow specific manufacturer recommendations for inspection frequencies and time between services
- Incorporate past service recommendations based on data specific to your boiler system
- Increase frequency of inspections for any components with known problems or potential issues
- Factor in your maintenance team’s schedules and resources
- Plan out intensive inspections with outsourced specialists when necessary
You might do this the old fashioned way, with pen and paper, or you might utilize online documents and spreadsheets. Overall, the most efficient way to track and manage your equipment is through preventive maintenance software.
How can FMX help?
When it comes to maintaining your boiler, FMX’s software can help you follow manufacturer-recommended maintenance. This will increase the equipment’s lifespan, comply with safety regulations to decrease risks, and schedule regular maintenance tasks to cut costs and downtime.
Use these boiler maintenance checklists within FMX to create step-by-step instructions for technicians. FMX can also be used to set automatic alerts for routine work order requests for optimal preventive maintenance.
To learn more about FMX’s software capabilities, read more about our maintenance management technologies. Find out how FMX could work for you.