Steam boilers are a system that heats water to the boiling point, and the resulting steam goes on to warm various whatever is required of it. These kinds of boilers are particularly useful for heating due to the rapid nature of steam. Once the water boils and creates steam, it is very hot and moves very fast.
You can expect to find this type of boiler in many applications ranging from an average home heating system to industrial applications.
How Do Steam Boilers Work?
Steam-powered boilers mainly require two things; water and fuel. The water is contained in a closed-loop system, going through the heating process, transferring its heat as it goes. Eventually, the steam will lose enough heat that it condenses back into water condensate, finishing its route around the system and arriving back at the heat source where the process can repeat all over again.
The fuel, quite simply, heats the water to convert it to steam. The kind of fuel will vary depending on the application, but it can be any number of combustible sources, such as gas, oil, or even coal in the case of steam engine locomotives. Keeping a steam-powered boiler well maintained can ensure it burns fuel as efficiently as possible, thus getting the most out of the fuel being used to power it.
Keeping a Steam Boiler Running Smoothly
The less steam boilers are properly maintained, the less efficiently it will do its job. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as leaks that are left un-repaired. Such a leak can cause water loss from the system, which in turn reduces the heating capacity of the boiler, and if left long enough can cause serious damage to the system.
Another example is limescale. Any surface in contact with water (particularly if the water is in the form of steam) will begin to acquire a coating of mineral deposits, such as limescale. Limescale is an unavoidable reality when dealing with water, as using 100% pure H20 is not economically feasible. Over time, the limescale will build up and restrict the flow of steam through the system, which in turns limits the heating capacity of it.
Fortunately, there is a range of maintenance options to prevent these very things from happening. Things like chemical water treatment can be employed to dissolve the minerals and deposits in the system, leaving the surfaces spotless and the water and steam flowing freely.