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Time is now to prepare for an efficient boiler.

Preparing your boiler for the heating season ahead will require a great deal of work. To make sure your system will be ready - and will operate at peak efficiency, thereby saving heating dollars - we at Atlas recommend starting your preparation program now.

The first step is to call in a boiler service company to thoroughly inspect and service your boiler. In most cases this involves a three-step process of overhauling your boiler system, cleaning the boiler, and, if necessary, performing boiler repairs.

One of the most important tasks is cleaning. When boiler systems operate at less than full capacity, as they have been during these summer months, they tend to generate more soot. Coupled with the debris that may have accumulated during last winter's colder months, this additional soot can build up, leading to energy waste and excessive fuel bills.

Soot build-up can cause other problems. It is corrosive and may create sulfuric acid which can eventually erode the boiler tubes and other parts of the boiler.

At Atlas, we recommend that the tubes and insides of a boiler be wire brushed and vacuumed at least four time per year. This is because unburned oil tends to build up and cover all parts of the boiler with soot, which acts as an insulator and prevents the proper transfer of heat. This, in turn, causes the boiler to work harder and burn more fuel. In tests, a quarter-inch of soot has been proven to decrease boiler efficiency by 10 percent to 25 percent depending upon the system.

In addition to winter preparation, a year-round boiler maintenance program will keep your system running at its peak and will help avoid break-downs. The key factors to consider are:

* Boiler efficiency. This is measured by such readings as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and stack temperature. These readings should be at acceptable levels. In addition, if you use a heat timer, make sure it is set to meet the law's minimum requirements. Since overheating a building may not only waste fuel but create uncomfortable temperatures for residents, you should monitor these settings as closely as possible.

* Combustion. If necessary, the burner should be adjusted to allow for proper combustion. Check the flames of the burner: the color of the flame will indicate whether there is a correct ratio of oil to air. Dark smoke or the smell of burning oil may mean that the mixture contains too much oil. Without the proper balance, the burner will burn more fuel than necessary, and may eventually break down.

* Leaks. Check all gaskets for cracking, leaking, or discoloration. Make sure that the automatic low-water cut-off device is in working order. Without this device, boiler meltdown is a constant risk. Check all bolts for breakage and also for leaks.

Any leakage of air into the fire-box should be repaired immediately. Draft controllers, electrical devices, oil heaters, pre-heaters, compressors, etc., should all be checked and repaired if necessary.

Finally, we recommend keeping an updated log for your boiler. Keep track of inspections, cleaning, and necessary repair work. The log should also mark rising stack temperatures, which indicate imminent burner failure or soot build-up.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Blaser, Richard
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Aug 19, 1992
Words:522
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