Installing HVAC in Your Business Premises

Preventing And Fixing Foaming Problems In Commercial Steam Boilers

Steam boilers have been used by commercial and industrial interests for centuries, and part of the reason businesses still use them today is because they are so reliable. However, steam boilers can still encounter problems if they are not properly used and maintained.

Foaming is a common problem in steam boilers that are not properly maintained and can cause serious damage if the problem is not corrected promptly. Here is everything you need to know about steam boiler foaming:

What Is Foaming In Steam Boilers? 

For a steam boiler to run efficiently, the water that it heats and converts into steam must be as pure and uncontaminated as possible. Oils, lubricants and cleaning chemicals can find their way into a boiler's water supply. By-products from the combustion process can also contaminate boiler water, and the water may contain a high proportion of dissolved solids if it is not properly purified before use.

These contaminants can change the way the water inside the boiler acts when it is heated. Bubbles formed when the water boils do not pop as quickly, because they are held together by the contaminants in the water. This causes large amounts of bubbles to accumulate at the top of the boiler tank, a phenomenon known as foaming.

How Does Foaming Affect Steam Boilers?

When a boiler foams, the large cluster of bubbles at the top of the boiler chamber prevents the steam from shedding its moisture content as it leaves the boiler chamber. As a consequence, the steam that passes through the boiler's piping and towards the turbines and/or superheaters will leave moisture behind on any surface it touches. Moisture being carried into a boiler's 'dry' components is known as 'priming.' 

Priming can cause serious damage to steam boilers if is not stopped as quickly as possible. Turbines and superheaters are not designed to withstand direct contact with large amounts of moisture, and can rapidly become damaged by corrosion and rust. This damage can be exacerbated if the moisture carries any acidic or chemically reactive contaminants.

If foaming is caused by dissolved solids in the boiler's water supply, these solids can also be left behind on turbines, superheats and interior piping surfaces. Solids accumulating on these surfaces can severely reduce boiler efficiency by impinging airflow and can cause catastrophic damage if they find their way into moving components, such as turbine shafts.

How Can You Prevent Foaming?

Foaming is prevented by keeping your boiler's water supply free of contaminants and by filtering and purifying it as much as possible before it is introduced into the system. Make sure that excess cleaning chemicals and lubricants are removed after maintenance work, and keep purified water supplies in safe storage when not in use.

Steam boilers are particularly prone to contamination if they are not properly maintained. Any cracks or gaps in the boiler's piping and housing can allow contaminants to enter the water supply, and rust particles from poorly maintained components are a common cause of contamination.

To prevent foaming and its associated problems, any business that relies on commercial-grade steam boilers should have them serviced regularly by an accredited boiler service company. These services can repair any damage to your boiler that may cause foaming to occur and repair any damage caused by foaming as and when it occurs. 

Reach out to a company that offers boiler servicing for more information.