Due to the recent weather disasters caused by hurricane Ike, the National
Board thought it prudent to again run the following article concerning boiler
systems and the damage caused by high waters. Although the information is not
all-inclusive, it is hoped the items are helpful during clean-up and
Floods, whether caused by nature or by structural or mechanical failures, can
produce deaths, injuries, and severe property damage. The following information
is provided to assist in the recovery of boiler systems affected by flooding to
help mitigate further risks to public safety and property damage:
- Safety of the personnel performing inspections and repairs is the highest
priority. Because flood waters contain many hazardous chemicals and bacteria,
personnel safety procedures should be developed and enforced.
- All utilities in the boiler room should be turned off until inspection and
necessary repairs of the individual systems allow reactivation.
- A careful visual inspection of the entire boiler system should be made, both
internally and externally, with notations of obvious problems and any special
equipment or personnel needed to facilitate repairs.
- Keep in mind that some equipment may only be repaired by the original
manufacturer or its licensed agents in order to maintain warranties and/or
- The boiler setting or foundation should be examined closely to determine if
it has been weakened or undermined. Any movement of the boiler or building will
have an adverse effect on piping and other equipment connected to both the
boiler and building structure.
- Waterlogged insulation will hasten external corrosion of boilers and pipes.
If removal is deemed necessary, remember that asbestos is still present in many
boiler rooms and requires handling by specially licensed personnel. If the
insulation is left in place and the boiler is fired before thoroughly drying,
steam can be generated within the insulation layers, creating the potential for
explosive damage to the external lagging.
- Refractory and fire brick should be checked for deterioration or loosening.
- Feedwater and condensate return systems should be thoroughly cleaned of any
mud, silt, or debris. After the boiler is put back in operation, the water
quality should be checked often for contamination of any kind.
- Pressure relief devices should be checked for corrosion or any damage that
would cause binding and failure to operate. Only qualified personnel should
perform disassembly or repair of a pressure relief device. Some jurisdictions
require this work to be performed by a company holding the National Board "VR"
symbol stamp. The outlet and discharge line of the pressure-relieving device
should be inspected for blockage.
- All drains and blow-off lines should be inspected to ensure there is no
blockage by debris.
- Electric/electronic controls should be evaluated for replacement or repair
as needed. Flame safeguard controls, ignition transformers, and safety shutoff
valves on the fuel system that have the potential for causing furnace explosions
should be replaced. Other fuel system components should be drained and cleaned
or replaced as necessary. All work performed on the fuel system and safety
devices must comply with jurisdictional requirements.
- All electric motors and wiring should be inspected closely to determine if
repair or replacement is necessary. All electrical work must comply with
- Check to make sure air inlets are clear and chimneys or stacks are open.
These items are not intended to be all-inclusive, as boiler systems and
equipment vary in design and operation. However, this list could be used as an
outline in developing individual inspection and repair guidelines to fit many
systems affected by flooding.