For a long time, a few strategies have been created for boiler tube cleaning. Twenty or more years prior, one famous strategy for keeping tubes clean was the utilization of soot blowers. Soot blowers comprised of steel tubes fitted with blowing nozzles that were placed on the tube sheet of the boiler so that the nozzles could be moved to blow steam, or air through each tube. Soot blowing was performed on a schedule with the expectation that the tubes would be kept clean.
This method was widely accepted especially during the times when importance was not placed on environmental issues as it is now. The method of using soot blowers as a tube cleaning strategy is now deeply frowned upon as it harms our environment. Now, soot blowers are used mainly in facilities like large utility boilers, and their smokestacks are properly maintained with environmental devices such as scrubbers. To see how soot blowers operate, you can watch this video.
Another method that was utilized for boiler tube cleaning is the use of a fire hose. The method requires the boiler tube technicians to wash out the tubes with a fire hose, this method can be effective but the mess it leaves behind makes it a very tedious process. It also became an issue because the tubes were made of sulphur which reacts with water to create acid and this poses a safety problem.
There are many other boiler cleaning methods that have been in use, but in most cases, they tend to be messy, inconvenient, and requiring hard labor. In addition to this, health and safety problems like vanadium poisoning in the 1970s became a major problem and discouraged boiler tubes cleaning. If only there were better boiler cleaning systems available to make the process easier, convenient and most importantly risk-free health-wise.
This brings us to the good news! There are definitely better boiler cleaning systems available and especially as tube cleaning technologies are constantly making big strides in developing cleaning methods that are faster, more effective, and efficient. These methods will be discussed in detail as you read further down this article.
What are Boilers
Boilers are vessels that are used to encase fluids, mostly water which is then heated though not necessarily till it boils. The steam produced is then allowed to leave the boiler for various applications such as boiler-based power generation, cooking, water heating, and other applications.
When a boiler is being used consistently for a period of time, it begins to accumulate soot as a result of minerals from the water interacting with the heat transfer surface that begins to get in the way of its effectiveness and thus requires cleaning.
There are two types of boiler tubes and they include:
- Water tube Boilers: In this type of tube boilers, the water carried is heated to a point where it becomes high pressure steam and then directed to its area of application. The water tube boiler is operated and maintained by the in-house personnel and it also requires the presence and expertise of a licensed engineer. Water tube boilers have their applications found in refining units, pulp and paper manufacturing, chemical processing etc. For other uses of watertube boiler, you can check here.
- Firetube boiler: Firetube boilers are also a type of tube boiler, their method of operation differ from a water tube boiler. In a firetube boiler, water surrounds the tube and hot gas moves through the tube. Irrespective of the nature of the fuel used it can cause an accumulation of soot and scales deposit during operation. Firetube boilers are the most used of all the tubular boilers, especially in bigger commercial facilities. They are normally found in schools, clinics, high rise buildings, places of business, retail outlets, inns, processing plants, army installations and in certain boats.
Cleaning Fire tube Boiler
Cleaning fire tube boilers that have an accumulation of soot deposits can be done via the use of tube cleaning machines. They have mechanically driven scrapers or brushes that run through the surface area of the tubes and require little or no human effort. These machines are connected to powerful vacuums that clear up the scraped dirt from the tubes.
In the case of scale deposits, they are harder to get rid of and normal brushes or scrapers might not be able to sufficiently clean them. Therefore, another machine called the rotary tube cleaning equipment must be used. Some rotary cleaning equipment like the manually fed rotary system also has simultaneous vacuuming incorporated in them.
Another method of cleaning employed in boiler tubes is called chemical cleaning. This method of cleaning has been used on boilers for a long time; it is periodically required to clean the waterside of a firetube boiler where there is a deposit of calcium and other mineral-based scales.
The chemicals used in chemical cleaning are very effective in removing calcium carbonates and other scale deposits stuck on the heating surfaces. This method of cleaning is applicable to both firetube boilers and water tube boilers. It should also be done by properly trained and equipped technicians. You can learn more about the cleaning procedure in this article.
Importance of Cleaning Your Boiler Tube
A fact about boiler tubes is that after a period of time, particles begin to build up in the pipes. The effect of this particle build-up is that it begins to act as a shield that prevents the water from getting heated. This causes the heating process to take more time and more work. It would also require more fuel which makes it inefficient, costly and eventually lead to the overall failure of the system.
A lot of facilities believe they can pull off not cleaning their machines especially boilers. They believe that just purchasing the item is enough. They sadly do not check it until something goes wrong. They allow the problem to fester and ignore the signs of the machine deteriorating, and afterward, they attempt to fix it.
Assuming the issue doesn’t disappear; calling a professional is their next response. This is not cost-effective because calling a professional can cost you a huge amount of cash, particularly if you put off fixing your machine for long. One very important money saving tip you’ll learn as a business is that fixing things early saves you a lot down the line.
In order to save money and maximize your boiler tube, you should consistently run the routine of your boiler tube cleaning. The significance of cleaning your boiler tube cannot be overemphasized. These days, there are many methods and strategies to make the cleaning process convenient, easy, and cost-efficient for you. There are pieces of equipment that you can purchase to help you and it is easy to use so you can do it yourself. It all depends on your preference.