Summer is a great time to maintain or upgrade the steam or hydronic heating system in your building or apartment complex. The system can be offline for days now, without angry calls from residents! The boiler room is quiet, most pipes and valves are not burn hazards, and the boiler room temperature is not pushing 140 °F.
Time spent in your boiler room now doing preventive maintenance and making some smart system upgrades will reduce your energy costs, and will keep you out of the boiler room at 3:00 AM during the upcoming heating season.
Here are five suggestions for summer preventive maintenance on your commercial boiler equipment:
1. Start with a good cleaning
A dark, dirty, and cluttered boiler room is a boiler room filled with potential problems that you can’t see. Start your summer heating system maintenance with a good cleaning. Remove anything stored in the room that is not needed for boiler operation, replace any burned out bulbs, and consider upgrading the lighting to make maintenance easier. Finally, clean the floor and vacuum out the cobwebs and dust from the equipment. While you are cleaning in those dusty corners, look around. Now that the place is clean, you can see those potential problems.
2. Give the system a thorough inspection
Look for water stains on the floor, rust on pumps or valves, droopy pipe insulation, and for damaged sensors or valve controls. These are all signs of pending failures. For steam systems, also inspect the main line air vents. Again, look for water stains and evidence of leaking.
Outside the boiler room walk the building, check radiators and make sure the steam radiator air vents have not been painted over or otherwise abused. If you have installed remote wireless sensors, like the Heat-Timer Wireless Sensor system, this is a good time to look into your control portal to see if any sensor in your building needs new batteries.
If you don’t have a heating control and an associated network of wireless sensors monitoring your building and critical heating system functions, maybe this is the summer to install it. A Heat-Timer® Platinum series heating controller can monitor a network of wireless sensors and give you instant information about your building’s health and the operation of valves and boilers in your system. These sensors include room sensors that provide real time information on the hot and cold areas of your building, allowing the self-learning algorithm’s in our control to keep temperatures stable without overdriving your boiler unnecessarily.
In addition to wireless building sensors, our control provides internet and mobile app based alarms and monitoring. From the comfort of your home, a building manager can see reports on energy usage, critical temperatures and can set or tweak all parameters associated with the efficient heating of the building. This data is available anywhere via an internet connection or on your cell phone.
3. Too hot for you? – It may be time to insulate those pipes
If the pipes in your boiler room are uninsulated, or the insulation is damaged or missing, steam or hot water that is supposed to be heating your building is instead turning your boiler room into a sauna. Summer is the perfect time to insulate any exposed pipes and valves since they are all at a safe temperature. There are three major advantages to insulating the system heating pipes and valves:
- It reduces energy costs, and improves system balance, especially for those long runs to the far end of the building.
- It reduces the temperature in the boiler room, making preventive maintenance or boiler repairs less grueling.
- It prevents burn injuries while maintenance work is being performed.
Insulated pipes are also much softer when you bump your head on them. That alone may be enough of a reason to insulate.
4. Clean and inspect the boiler
The boiler is the heart of the heating system. When properly maintained, it will provide heat reliably for decades. Neglect maintenance and it can fail in many sudden and expensive ways.
Summer gives you the time to drain the boiler so that both the fireside and waterside of the boiler can be cleaned and inspected. A qualified technician should inspect and clean the burner and should also inspect, and if necessary replace, the three most critical safety systems on the boiler.
- The blowdown valve
- The low water cut-off switch
- The pressure relief valve
Failures in any of these systems can result in a boiler shut down or even boiler damage.
If you have decided to install remote sensors this summer, the boiler is another place where sensors integrated with a Heat-Timer Platinum Heating controller can warn you of boiler problems before they become serious.
5. Upgrade your controls
Finally, while the technician is servicing your boiler, why not ask them whether it is time to consider upgrading the boiler controls? If your boiler controls are more than 10 years old, you will benefit from the advances in self learning controls and internet connectivity provided by controls like the Heat-Timer® platinum series.
For example, the Heat Timer® Platinum series controls come with outdoor reset and self-learning software that continuously optimizes the heating cycle for your building and climate. This reduces heating costs, while the system’s internet communication option will allow you to monitor and manage your heating system from anywhere. The Heat-Timer® Platinum interfaces with a variety of wired and wireless sensors, giving you a complete picture of how the heating system is performing, and all the hot and cold spots in your building.
Summer is Hot, for Heating Controls
Don’t wait until things cool off to start thinking of heating. This summer, think about these five tips to give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your commercial heating system is not going to give you a headache this winter.