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From the BULLETIN: Scary Photos

Print Date: 5/24/2024 2:39:22 PM

Scary Photos
A Close-Up Look at the Dark Side of the Boiler Room

Boiler inspectors routinely enter spaces where few others care to tread – the out-of-sight mechanical rooms where potentially hazardous pressure equipment is operated – and sometimes, poorly maintained. In this new recurring feature, National Board Commissioned Inspectors are invited to submit photos of the problems they witness during everyday inspections to serve as a warning for what to look for in the field.

Once a year, there will be a reader vote on the “scariest” photo from all the submissions. The inspector who submitted the winning photo will receive a $100 gift card. The first vote will be held in the fall of 2024.

Following are examples of the type of submissions we are looking for:

This was a package boiler at a paper mill that had a failed heat exchanger, allowing contaminated water to be introduced into the condensate return tank. Over a period of six to nine months, approximately a third of the tubes became clogged and had to be bored out and hydro-blasted.

The boiler generated superheated steam. It was for process and turbines normally operated at 450 psi. A lack of corrective action led to this condition. After the cleaning process, some tubes blistered due to overheating.

This is why internal inspections are so important!

This is a smaller cast-iron boiler with natural draft combustion. The connection of the natural gas line to the fuel control valve was leaking. Notice the small flame on the lower right side of the fuel control valve and the soot on the surface behind the fuel control valve.

This is why it’s extremely important to remove the front panels
when inspecting small boilers. A small gas leak like this could have filled the boiler room with natural gas, and the consequences could have been devastating.

The boiler was immediately removed from service, but the question remains: What sparked the flame?

Do you have a photo and story to share with the BULLETIN? Email a high-resolution photo (must be at least 300 dpi) with a brief description and course of action to: Lee Cochran, senior editor:

Photos and stories should not identify specific people or locations.

Click HERE to learn more about becoming a commissioned inspector. Click HERE to view online issues of the BULLETIN.