This weekend we re-plumbed the entire boiler loop for our plant. The initial installation was done by a group of people (including employees) that really didn’t know what they were doing. The original installation looked very much like a Rube Goldberg design, and while it did actually work (meaning it got hot water to the tanks to heat other liquids), it lacked sufficient heat transfer and caused premature pump failures. The boiler installation, except for the original boiler itself and the stack, has almost been completely redone. It has a new (properly sized) pump, a new properly sized fuel pump, new water supply and return piping that is the factory recommended sizing (2″), and in the factory recommended “loop” configuration instead of a manifold type configuration which was very inefficient and caused pressure and flow problems.
So far, we’re seeing quicker times to get the loop up to temperature, and much better heat transfer to the tanks. It was expensive to do, but our other options were less appealing: add another or bigger boiler, or use electric heating elements to add additional heat.
Since we use our own biodiesel in our boiler, the emissions from it are pretty clean, and the improved efficiency should not only save us money on fuel, but grant us the gains in heating efficiency we’ve needed for quite a while.