A firetube boiler provides a large heating surface area from its composition of many small, heated tubes within the boiler. These types of boilers do require regular maintenance to maximize their efficiency. This maintenance includes both preventative and corrective. When an issue arises, our goal is to get your boiler back online efficiently and promptly.
Boiler Tube Water Leak Remedies
Preventative maintenance should be a priority for your firetube boiler. The best way to remedy firetube boiler water leaks is to avoid them before they happen. However, unfortunately, not all firetube boiler water leaks can be prevented. Still, it is important to understand how they occurred so corrective actions can be put in motion in a timely manner. How will you know if there is a water leak in your firetube boiler? A leak can be detected if there is any sign of water in or around the boiler or other fireside location. As mentioned in the Firetube Boiler Leaks article, a water meter is also an excellent tool to detect leaks. The weekly makeup water readings will indicate a potential leak in the boiler if there are significant differences between readings. Listed below are the two most common approaches for correcting a tube leak:
- Plugging Tubes: If installing replacement tubes right away is not practical, one option for a short-term correction is to plug the leaking tubes. Plugging tubes is a temporary fix that reduces boiler downtime and allows time to plan for a shutdown to replace the leaking tubes. Before plugging a tube, the location and repercussions of the leak must be determined. A leak at the tube-to-sheet joint indicates that the plug’s holding power may be affected. A through-wall leak caused by corrosion and scale suggests that the tube wall strength has been weakened. Although plugging a tube will address the immediate issue at hand, it is not a long-term remedy, and the boiler should be monitored for secondary damage and further leaks. We recommend that no more than 10% of tubes in a firetube boiler be plugged as the boiler’s efficiency decreases when more tubes are plugged. When a sizeable number of tube leaks are detected, the best course of action to extend the life of your boiler is to have the tubes replaced.
- Replacing Tubes: Replacing firetube boiler tubes can be a costly and timely procedure. However, it is necessary, especially when a boiler is subject to multiple tube leaks. When replacing a tube, a common technique is rolling and expanding the new tube to the tube sheet. After replacement tubes are installed, they are checked for leaks to ensure no new leaks have formed. Tube replacements will also produce long-term financial savings in production and repairs.
Consistent preventative maintenance is a great way to limit or avoid water leaks in firetube boilers. At CC Controlled Combustion Co. Inc., we offer various services throughout the year to prevent significant issues such as a leak that will force a boiler to be offline for an extended period. As mentioned in the Firetube Boiler Leaks article, the water in a boiler is a key component in operation and must be monitored regularly to ensure proper chemical balance. Properly treated boiler water slows down the process of corrosion build-up, which will maximize the efficiency of the unit and reduce energy costs. At Controlled Combustion, we offer a chemical treatment service to provide seasonal water treatments throughout the heating season. We conduct chemical testing, administration, and a corrosion coupon study with complete, detailed analysis reports once per month. Our technicians perform a boil out as needed and inject chemical detergents into the boiler as part of the service. We chemically clean and flush the system, refill the boiler with chemical inhibitors, and test for proper water analysis and treatments.
We also recommend regular fireside and waterside boiler cleanings. A fireside boiler cleaning will minimize stack temperatures, improve efficiency, reduce fuel costs, and keep your boiler running efficiently. As scale and mud build-up in the boiler, it is crucial to clean and remove debris. A waterside boiler cleaning will remove the accumulated mud and debris that deteriorates the tubes. If you have any questions regarding chemical treatment, fireside, and waterside boiler cleanings, or any of our other maintenance services offered, please feel free to contact us for additional information.