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5 Safety Tips For Preventing Temporary Boiler Disasters

by Luke Lawson

If your company suddenly needs a rental boiler to produce a lot of power, you and your employees are likely unfamiliar with the proper operation of this equipment. Learning a little about the best safety practices for boiler rooms could save lives and prevent thousands of dollars worth of damage to your facility. Use these five safety tips to avoid some of the most common power boiler mistakes.

Practice Emergency Drills

Sometimes there's simply nothing you can do to prevent a boiler tank rupture or a fuel explosion. In these cases, only proper reactions from your employees will save lives and minimize property damage.

Set aside a few hours each week to practice emergency upset and hazard drills so every employee can prove they'd take the right actions in the first five or six seconds after an alarm sounds since waiting even 30 seconds could prove fatal.

Don't set off the real alarms during the drills to keep your team from getting too used to the sounds - instead, just tell them verbally the alarm has sounded and ask for their immediate reactions.

Request Maintenance Records

Don't just assume the company supplying your temporary boiler equipment is following national guidelines regarding quarterly and annual inspections. Request hard copies of the maintenance records and inspection results to know for sure that your rented boiler is safe to use. Ask for information about:

  • Interior and exterior inspection of the pressure tank to find corrosion, cracks, or leaks
  • Testing of the lockout and interlock systems
  • Valve pressurization to catch leaks or clogs
  • Live pressure testing to check that the system shuts down properly when the safe limits are exceeded

Of course, these inspections can only catch problems developing over the long term. Train all employees working around the boiler system to look and listen for signs of leaks like hissing, puddles, visible or invisible steam, and unusual temperature changes in the area.

Set Reliable Purging Protocols

Whether you're using a gas or oil fired boiler, the fuel-to-air ratio in the combustion chamber is very important. Overly rich mixtures with too much fuel blended are the number one cause of explosions. Many workers attempt to speed up sluggish or smoky operation by simply adding more fuel, but this leads to an unbalanced rich air and fuel mixture.

Train your employees to properly purge the combustion chamber of residual fuel and restart the burners each time they notice a problem. This ensures the balance stays even and safe at all times. Reinforce the need for a purging protocol by adding clear signs warning employees of the dangers of adding fuel to a chamber already in operation.

Rent Fuel-to-Air Analyzers

Of course, fuel-to-air ratio problems can happen even without operator error. It's impossible to tell if your boiler combustion is acting up because of contaminated fuel or a ratio imbalance unless you install analyzers on the flue pipes. This equipment offers live readings of the mixture in your combustion chambers so you know when to shut the unit down and call for a full inspection.

Color Code Fuel and Vent Pipes

In a busy and crowded plant, some employees end up leaning or even climbing on pipes to reach something. It only takes a little pressure to create a leak in the fuel or vent pipes connected to the boiler. Both types of leaks create invisible fume inhalation hazards, so color code all the boiler pipes to reinforce the fact no one should touch them unless they're doing maintenance or inspections.

A little extra care and work is the best way to maintain a safe working environment no matter how big of a temporary boiler you need to rent. Don't skimp on employee training or safety protocols just because you only plan to use the boiler system for a few weeks or months at a time.

To learn more, contact a company like Nationwide Boiler with any questions or concerns you have.