Q:

What are the basics of operating a boiler?

A:

Quick Answer

Operating a boiler requires a basic understanding of the different types of boilers, feedwater systems, combustion equipment, controls and instruments. A boiler operator must know the different types of fuel used in boilers and should understand the concepts of cogeneration and the steam cycle.

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Boiler operation and maintenance relies on a knowledge of how to properly start and shut down a boiler and how to recognize, evaluate and repair malfunctioning equipment. A boiler operator may encounter problems such as inconsistent draft, tube failure and broken gauges, and the operator must be trained and prepared to fix these problems immediately. Proper operation requires an understanding of the combustion process so that it can be correctly analyzed and adjusted. Operators should know how to take boilers offline for routine repairs and inspections and how to maintain them while they're out of service.

A boiler technician must know how to read and interpret monitoring instruments, such as safety valves, steam gauges, feed water regulators and water column devices. Boiler operation requires a basic understanding of the materials, heating specifications, stress levels and fittings relevant to the type of boiler the operator is running. A boiler technician must know how to operate and maintain the pumps and auxiliary equipment that support the boiler and should be able to analyze water quality and gas emissions.

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