Before the cold season arrives where ever you may reside, preparing your boiler with regular preventative maintenance for the heating season is critical to efficient and safe operation. The frequency of common boiler issues, such as inefficient burner operation, cracking, dry fire, and pilot failure, may be reduced with proper attention. Their dependability and efficiency is contingent upon these tasks being performed both properly and regularly. With the rising costs of fuel and equipment it pays to be proactive in caring for your boiler. Following are some important tasks you and your qualified technician can perform to aid in safe and successful heating boiler start-up and operation.

Qualified Boiler Technician Responsibilities (Pre-Seasonal)

  • Check all safety valves and devices for proper operation. Disassemble the low water cutoffs and inspect the wiring (remove the probe and clean if applicable). Remove sediment from the low water cut off cross piping. Perform a slow drain test of the low water cutoffs.
  • Inspect the sight glasses. Clean and replace as needed.
  • Remove and clean atmospheric burners or clean the blower fan if a power burner is used.
  • Test the air switch.
  • Perform a combustion analysis.
  • Clean, set and inspect the pilot assembly, controls and pressure switches.
  • Perform pilot turn down test if an infrared or ultraviolet flame scanner is used.
  • Drain the boiler water and remove the scale from the vessel.
  • The boiler water side and fire side should be opened, cleaned and inspected for defects and damage.

Owner Operator Responsibilities (Pre-Startup)

  • Remove any debris and stored items from around the boiler.
  • Verify that the outside air damper is not obstructed.
  • Visually inspect the boiler water level. If it is not visible then shut down the boiler and contact a service technician.
  • Confirm the fuel level is adequate if the boiler is firing on liquified petroleum gas (LPG) or fuel oil.
  • Upon the boiler’s first cycle, observe the pilot light and ensure the flame is stable and not flickering.
  • Look at the main flame (from low fire to high fire, if applicable) making sure the flame is not dirty with excessive soot.
  • Test the low water cutoffs.
  • Provide freeze protection, if necessary.

Maintaining Actions (Post-Startup)

  • Inspect for leaks in or around your boiler.
  • Have a chemical vendor or qualified technician test the boiler chemical levels. Properly treat boiler feedwater and perform daily boiler blow downs as directed by a qualified boiler water specialist to prevent scale accumulation.
  • Test the low water cutoffs and safety valves.
  • Inspect the burner flame for proper combustion.
  • Fill out the boiler log on a regular basis to help identify detrimental trends.


Taking the guesswork out of commercial HVAC preventative maintenance

If you’re like many business owners and managers, you feel like a fish out of water when you’re faced with choosing a commercial HVAC preventative maintenance contract. When you’re not an expert on the subject, evaluating the merits of one contract or vendor versus another might seem overwhelming. Today, we’re going to take the mystery out the commercial HVAC preventative maintenance once and for all. Here’s a primer to help you choose the right contract and the right provider for your needs, including:
  • Commercial HVAC preventative maintenance checklist with tasks for each season
  • Questions to ask the contractor
  • Questions the contractor should ask you

Commercial HVAC preventative maintenance checklist

Here’s a general task list to use as a reference when comparing commercial HVAC preventative maintenance contracts. But before we get into the details, here’s an important thing to remember: your plan should be customized according to your needs. Depending on the age and condition of your equipment, your location and usage, and the size and type of equipment you have, more tasks or different ones may be needed. For example, if you have a water-cooled system, you have a chiller and/or a cooling tower that requires maintenance. Or if you have a combined heat pump or VRF system that provides both cooling and heating, you have different components that require inspection and adjustment by an expert.

Fall & Winter Maintenance Tasks

  • Replace filters on heating equipment
  • Check condition of belts and pulleys and replace as needed
  • Clear drain lines and pans
  • Check electrical connections
  • Check operation of fan and blower motor and adjust if needed
  • Inspect ignition and burner assembly
  • Lubricate motors, bearings and other moving parts
  • Check operation of thermostats and other controls
  • Inspect heat exchanger

Spring & Summer Maintenance Tasks

  • Replace filters on cooling equipment
  • Check condition of belts and pulleys and replace as needed
  • Clean condenser and evaporator coils
  • Check refrigerant charge and inspect for leaks if charge is low
  • Clear drain lines and pans
  • Check electrical connections
  • Check operation of fan and blower motor and adjust if needed
  • Lubricate motors, bearings and other moving parts
  • Check operation of thermostats and other controls
  • Check for adequate air flow

Finding an HVAC service company you can trust

Now that you know what has to be done, the next step is finding the right provider. When you call an HVAC service company about a preventive maintenance contract, an inspector will visit you to take an inventory of your equipment and check it’s condition. During that inspection, you can expect a qualified professional to ask for information about your system. If they don’t ask, that should be a red flag. This is also your opportunity to ask questions that can help you determine if the vendor will really provide the quality service they promise.

Questions the contractor should ask you

1. How has the system been performing?

If you have been experiencing poor performance, temperature variance, and/or humidity issues, these are signs of system design issues that will need to be addressed.

2. Have you experienced any maintenance issues?

If the system has been failing frequently for some time, further investigation is needed to get to the root cause.

3. How many hours per day/week is the system operating?

How much the system runs affects how often you need service.

4. Tell me about the usage of the space and the occupancy levels.

To develop the right maintenance plan for you, the contractor needs to understand your business and how it affects the load on the system.

5. How high are your energy bills?

If your energy consumption is constantly increasing, or suddenly shoots up for no obvious reason, your HVAC system may be the cause. Your HVAC professional can monitor efficiency and make recommendations to improve it.

Questions to ask the contractor

1. How long will each maintenance visit take?

The answer to this question can help you compare vendors. A vendor that spends more time on the visit is doing a more thorough inspection of your system.

2. Will you review maintenance issues with me after each visit?

You want a vendor that’s willing to take the time to sit down with you and explain what he did and what corrective actions were needed.

3. What needs to be done to improve my system’s performance?

If you are experiencing performance issues, steps may be needed to correct them that go beyond preventative maintenance. Make sure everything that’s needed to ensure comfort and reliable performance has been taken into account. This commercial HVAC preventative maintenance checklist was developed to help you understand what needs to be done to keep your equipment in good working order.  


Log Sheets - CLICK HERE Boiler Safety and Information - CLICK HERE


Commercial Maintenance - CLICK HERE   Sources: Travelers Insurance James Piper, P.E. August 2010 CLS Facilities Service

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