Resources // Boiler Maintenance

Why Boiler Cleanings and Feedwater Inspections are Crucial


The equipment that operates your boiler plant is a valuable capital investment that requires proper attention to avoid breakdowns, protect against safety hazards and ensure a long equipment life. Maintaining a healthy boiler system requires routine maintenance and boiler cleaning. The cost of boiler maintenance, inspection, and repairs is minor when compared to the cost of a single unplanned plant shutdown. Here are reasons to properly maintain your boiler and tips on what to watch for when your boiler and/or feedwater equipment need attention.

Avoid Breakdowns and Repairs

One of the most significant reasons why a good boiler maintenance plan is so important is because it helps prevent boiler-related emergency shutdowns. Breakdowns and equipment repairs can be costly. Boilers are indispensable pieces of equipment at most facilities that support critical processes. For example, if production grinds to a halt due to boiler failure, every minute this interruption continues the deeper it cuts into profits and welcomes a domino effect of issues. Keeping up with proper boiler maintenance will avoid this costly situation.

Protection Against Safety Hazards

Safety is a top concern at all plants and facilities. Not only can an accident tragically injure a human life, but it can also cause devastating structural damage to the facility. Regular boiler tune ups help prevent boiler-related accidents from occurring by safely detecting and correcting potential problems before they can lead to accidents. To ensure your control and safety devices are functioning properly, you must regularly have required maintenance, testing and inspections performed.

Longer Equipment Lifespan

PBBS Service Technician checking boiler controls on a C-B boiler

If your boiler plant is well maintained, costly repairs and early replacement units can be prevented. In addition, regular maintenance ensures that any issues are taken care of in a timely manner and that each part of the boiler continues to function correctly for a longer duration of time.

Energy Savings

Boilers are huge fuel consumers. To maximize fuel usage, it is imperative that the boiler and burner operate as efficiently as possible. Regular maintenance and routine inspections play an important role in identifying and correcting efficiency problems within the boiler system early on.

It’s the Law

In order to stay compliant with your state laws and your insurance company, you may be legally obligated to get CSD-1 safety testing and an annual boiler inspection. 

Here are some states that require CSD-1 safety testing and annual boiler inspections: 

  • Michigan: Requires annual CSD-1 testing on all commercial boiler applications
  • Illinois: Requires all boilers to be inspected every two years
  • Wisconsin: Requires low-pressure steam boilers and hot-water heating boilers to be inspected at least once every 36 months
  • California: Requires annual external inspection

Other states that have boiler inspection requirements include: 

  • Champaign, Illinois
  • The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors

This is not legal advice. You may want to consult a lawyer for further information.

The Effects of a Dirty Boiler

Before and after of waterside cleaning by PBBS Equipment

Soot and scale are a by-product of the fuel and air mixture. The buildup of soot can cause corrosion requiring more fuel and reducing efficiency. 

A firetube boiler has tubes that are surrounded by heated water and carry hot gases. The by-product of combustion are sometimes deposited on the inside surfaces of the tubes which results in a heat transfer problem and need to be vacuumed and cleaned with a brush. 

A watertube boiler has water that runs through the tubes and is surrounded by a heating source. The water is heated to a very high temperature which can result in solids accumulating on the inside of the tubes. These soot deposits will cause the same heat transfer problem. In a watertube, chemical solutions or manual methods are used to clean the tubes. 

If you are not sure how to identify when your boiler is in need of a cleaning, something to watch out for is an increased stack temperature as this often signals soot or scale buildup. If you are regularly inspecting your boiler and recording data with a boiler log, you should notice an increased trend pretty quickly.

PBBS Equipment Feedwater Tank

Why Water Quality is Important

Water contains dissolved salts, which upon evaporation of water forms scale on the heat transfer surfaces, thus, reducing heat transfer. 

Low pH or dissolved oxygen in the water attacks the steel causing pitting of the tubes leading to cracked or leaky tubes.  

Maintaining Your Feedwater System 

A boiler’s water quality is only as good as the water fed into it. Corrosion, cracked/leaky tubes, and more issues are commonly caused by improper pH control, dissolved solids, or dissolved oxygen in the feedwater entering the boiler. Corrosion can be minimized through routine cleaning, continued control of oxygen, proper pH control, and dissolved solids. A chemical feed and monitoring program will ensure peak performance and high-quality feedwater for your boiler.  

Deaerators are used to heat feedwater and reduce oxygen and dissolve solids to acceptable levels. Automated feed systems supply chemicals to water which results in consistency, reduces potential overdosing and waste, and self-monitors the system to make necessary adjustments. 

PBBS Service Technician performing fireside tube cleaning

Working with a reputable water chemistry company will set you up for success for boiler system reliability, efficiency, and safety. 

When a routine maintenance cleaning is performed by PBBS Equipment, you’ll receive:

  • Fireside Cleaning
  • Waterside Cleaning
  • Burner/Boiler Checkout 
  • Formal Written Report 
  • Optional Mid-Winter Check 

Contact us to schedule an appointment or learn about our maintenance contracts. 

boiler room gauge

Join Our Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest news on boiler maintenance, service, and parts from PBBS.

Sign Up
Contact Us