Boiler Problems

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve cursed at our boiler, I’d have enough money to buy a new one.

But actually, the boiler is fine. It’s a Columbia Waste Oil Boiler that we use to burn biodiesel to generate process heat. The folks at Columbia Boiler are fine group and I would recommend them to anyone.

What sucks in our case is actually our boiler room and installation. Poorly designed, installed by amateurs and assisted by people (former employees and contractors) who claimed to know what they were doing and clearly did not, our boiler room is too small, the stack is (was) installed properly, the piping is too small, and the distribution piping and manifold make our setup look like a Rube Goldberg special edition boiler. It’s a mess. I’m embarrassed when anyone comes in to look at it.

So, over the last couple of years, we’ve been slowly fixing, upgrading, and replacing undersized pumps, incorrect pressure relief valves, incorrectly calculated air inlets, etc. You name it. We’ve most recently insulated the stack, which is (mostly) installed correctly for proper draft and flue temperature now. The excess heat in the (too small) boiler room was causing premature motor failure on the pumps (even when the undersized ones were replaced). If I get a solid week where nothing goes wrong with it I consider it lucky.

So, a word to the wise when building a plant. Size your boiler properly, and more important, size your boiler room properly and get a professional company (with references) to install it. Otherwise it will continue to bite you in the rear end for years to come.

Posted in Biodiesel.