Steam Heating Systems: 9 Tips For Efficient Performance

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017
improving boiler proficiency with allen's tri-state mechanical

Energy costs are reaching record levels, so many homeowners are looking to improve the efficiency of their utilities. There are several ways you can accomplish efficiency with your steam heating system. If you are struggling with utility costs, the following nine tips can help you save money and keep your boiler in peak condition.

Clean your boiler

If the water in your boiler contains oil or other impurities, it can weaken efficiency by causing wet steam and short cycling. These problems can waste energy. Take a look at the gauge glass for indications that your boiler might be dirty. If you find that the water rapidly bounces behind the glass, it likely contains oil. If you see water dripping from the top of the glass gauge, your boiler is likely producing wet steam, which does not heat as well. This will cause the burner to run longer in order to meet your heating needs.

Ensure main vents are installed and working properly

There should be vents at the end of the main to ensure the steam is evenly distributed. The steam supply main vent is filled with air at the beginning of every run cycle, which must be released to move smoothly toward the last riser. If the air cannot release itself from the main vent, the burner will end up short cycling.

Check the steam pressure control setting

This is one of the easiest adjustments to make to your steam heating system, and it has a major effect on efficiency and savings. The lower your steam pressure, the less it will cost to use the boiler. Therefore, you should operate at the lowest possible setting for greater efficiency.

Check the water line position

Another setting that can have a big impact on your boiler’s steam production is the normal water line position. If it is too high, that means there is more water inside the boiler than it is designed to contain and properly heat. Too much water leads to longer run cycles and an increase in operating costs. If the water level is too low, the burner tends to short cycle, leading to poor steam production.

Check the main vent size

Your system will heat faster according to how big the opening in the main vent is. The bigger the vent, the faster the steam reaches the radiator, and the less the burner will run. Ideally, it should take no longer than four minutes for the steam to reach the last distribution riser from the first distribution main. Calculate how much air is in the steam main and then ensure you have installed enough venting to move that quantity in under four minutes.

Look near boiler piping for proper size and orientation

This is an area of your system that must be done right to ensure dry steam. If your pipes are too small, they will produce higher outlet velocities, which can cause water to be carried out of the boiler as wet steam. To ensure good performance, follow all installation instructions carefully. If you find you need better performance, get a larger pipe size. You can also install an additional riser to slow down the velocity of the stream and distribute it more evenly.

Check available combustion air and perform combustion analysis

Your burner requires a certain amount of air to fire optimally. Check that you have enough, and then perform a combustion analysis so that you can fine tune your burner. Be sure to record the results so you can compare them during the next maintenance check. This test will allow you to prove that your burner is operating at maximum efficiency.

Ensure proper insulation of supply piping and boiler piping

Insulation is possibly the best investment you can make in working toward reducing your fuel bills. Any pipe responsible for carrying steam should be well insulated. Many technicians will tell you that a lack of boiler piping insulation is a common problem that attributes to higher utility costs.

For systems over 500,000 btu/hr

For these steam heating systems, you should install a boiler feed unit to help ensure a steady water line. It is also recommended that you install a cycle rate control that can read both the outdoor temperature and that of the return water. Although these controls are not considered cheap, they pay you back in the long run.

Get the best boiler maintenance in the Tri-State area

If you are looking for help repairing or replacing your old steam heating system, contact the professionals at Allen’s Tri-State Mechanical Inc in Amarillo, Texas today. Our professionals can help you with all of your residential, commercial, and heavy industrial needs. Call us today at (806) 376-8345 or Contact Us by email to learn more about how we can help you. You can also stop by our office at 404 S. Hayden St. in Amarillo.