The Fire-Tube Boiler Washout Process


One of the most important parts of a fire-tube maintenance regimen is a washout; these are usually performed alongside an internal inspection. If you perform regular washouts, you will significantly prolong the life of your boiler. Typically, you should perform a washout every 15 to 30 days, and you should especially not wait 180 days.

The Blowdown

The first step is a blowdown. You will need to eject water to avoid the accumulation of impurities; the water can be blown out of the boiler by using steam pressure. This process consists of a surface blowdown and a bottom blowdown.

The surface blowdown constantly bleeds off a small amount of water within the boiler to eliminate dissolved impurities. With some water treatments, insoluble particles settle down at the bottom and are then entrained in the water that circulates past the surface of the heat exchanger.

By opening valves in the mudholes, the pressure forces the sludge out of the boiler. It's safer to perform a blowdown over a short period of time. Next, all of the water is drained away though mudholes found at the base of the firebox. You'll also need to remove washout plugs to allow the water to drain. 

Removing Scale

You can remove the scale by using a high-pressure water jet and scraping the interior surface with rods of soft metal. Pay close attention to areas that are likely to experience scale buildup, such as nearby the firebox crown. 

One of the challenges of washing out the fire-tube boiler is seeing inside it. You should rely on the plugholes to look inside to determine if you removed all of the scale. Make sure that the firebox, stays, and tubes are all in good condition. Make sure the boiler plate is not pitting or cracking. Scale sometimes accumulates on gauge glass tubes and cocks, so make sure to wash it off.

Reassembling the Fire-Tube Boiler

As you are reassembling the fire-tube boiler, check the plugs to make sure they are placed into their original holes. If any of the mudhole gaskets are made using asbestos, they should be replaced; however, if they are made using lead, they can be reused. 

Preserving a Fire-Tube Boiler

The washout is only one part of a fire-tube steam boiler maintenance regimen, but if you remember to perform this task, you won't have to replace your boiler as often and you will face less downtime.


8 January 2019

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