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Be Safe! What You Should Know About Reactivating An Out-Of-Service Boiler

Reactivating an idle boiler is not a step to be taken lightly. Boilers that have been shut down, particularly those that haven't been used in more than a year, can become serious safety hazards if reactivation is not properly performed. There are multiple steps to take before any effort is made to relight an idle boiler; below are several considerations that must be kept in mind whenever a boiler reactivation is planned:

Obtain professional inspection services

The most important step that should be taken when reactivating an idle boiler is to obtain the services of a professional boiler inspector. When a boiler is out-of-service, there is a high likelihood has been removed from the regular inspection rolls. It will be due for an inspection, and a professional is the only one who has the expertise and legal authority in most jurisdictions to ensure safe operation.

In addition, you also need a qualified inspector to look at safety devices, such as relief valves and low-water cut-off valves. They will verify their proper functioning and ensure all such devices are up-to-date with applicable codes and regulations.

Once you have made other preparations, a qualified inspector can provide a final seal of approval for operations as long as everything is in order. In addition, they will also ensure that your operating certification for the boiler is current and assist you with any other necessary paperwork issues.

Check for leaks in boiler supply lines and exhaust system

Boilers are connected to a variety of external supply lines: water, gas, and fuel oil are examples of those commonly found. It is important to check these lines to ensure they are not leaking along the pipes, at valves, and at other fittings. Look at areas beneath and surrounding water lines to check for signs of old leaks; white stains, rust stains and warped wood indicate the presence of prior leaks that may still exist.

For boilers supplied with fuel oil, you should inspect pipes and fittings, as well as those areas surrounding them, for oily or greasy spots. With gas-fed boilers, use your nose to help sniff out leaking natural gas or propane. In addition, be sure all fuel supply lines are equipped with a valve that can be easily and quickly closed in the event of an emergency.

The exhaust system of a boiler is just as critical to the safety of operators and building occupants; leaking exhaust can allow deadly carbon monoxide to spread silently. That's why it's important to check for signs such as sooty joints between sections of ductwork and the exhaust stack. Inspect sheet metal components for holes, missing screws, or other imperfections that might permit gases to leak.

Clean boiler and surrounding area

An idle boiler room can present a temptation for those looking for new storage space. Unfortunately, an accumulation of non-boiler related objects, such as furniture, boxes, and boxes, can pose a serious fire hazard if permitted to remain in the vicinity. The boiler room should be completely cleaned of any objects not directly-related to the functioning of the unit.

In addition, it is important to thoroughly clean dust, cobwebs, grease and other accumulations that might contribute to a fire or unpredictable burning. For example, be sure that fuel nozzles are not clogged with residues such as soot or oily "gunk". In addition, inspect for signs of animal inhabitation; small mammals and insects often take up residence in the dark confines of a quiet boiler or similar habitat, so be sure that any wildlife is removed before re-firing.

Verify that electrical system is operational

Boilers depend on electricity to operate various valves and other inputs, so it is necessary to look at the electrical system on your boiler from operational and safety standpoints. Be sure that all electrical services are restored to the boiler and that no switches are locked in their closed position. In addition, check panels and controls to be sure they are functional and complete. Replace any missing panel covers and inspect wiring for signs of damage from rodents or other animals.

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