Preventative Maintenance Protocols For Commercial Biomass Boilers

Biomass boilers, much like fossil fuel boilers, carry a maintenance schedule that needs to be performed on a regular basis. This article, offered by a manufacturer of wood burning appliances, outlines a few of the most common items to watch.
By Grant Gagner | December 28, 2014

Biomass boilers equipped with automatic ash extraction systems typically include the following:

• Internal ash extraction:  Consists of one or more augers that move the ash from the combustion chamber into an ash pan or an external ash auger.

• External ash extraction: Consists of one or more ash augers that collect ash from the internal ash augers that empty into a self-contained ash bin.

• Fire tube pneumatic cleaning: Consists of a manifold of hoses or pipes that automatically send a blast of compressed air through fire tubes, which are located on the last pass of a three-pass biomass boiler system.  This is also commonly known as the boiler's “tube nest.” 

If a biomass boiler is equipped with the above components, a daily walk-through of the boiler room is all that is necessary.  On average, a boiler operator will spend 10 to 30 minutes inspecting the boiler, making sure the combustion levels and flue gas temperatures are within the boilers set points. Maintenance times will vary based on the size of boiler, fuel type, and rate of consumption.

Biomass boilers without automatic ash extraction systems will need to be shut down more frequently to be serviced manually.  The increased cost of maintaining the boiler and work load will directly result in reduced fuel savings and job performance.     

Biomass boilers equipped with automatic ash extraction and tube cleaning will increase the boiler performance, efficiency, and lifespan.  It is important to keep the fire tubes clean of ash to obtain the best efficiency possible.  Once ash starts to settle in the tubes it insulates the heat transfer, thus, sending the heat up the exhaust rather than exchanging it into the boiler water.

With proper maintenance of a biomass boiler, the life span will be comparable to a fossil fuel boiler system.  The internal combustion parts will last longer and the boiler will consume less fuel.  It is important to check with the boiler manufacturer or owner’s manual to follow their suggested maintenance schedule. 

While the manufacturer will have maintenance schedules listed for each of their boiler models, it is also important to work with a local representative to create a service agreement.  Regular checks by a certified service representative will increase the performance of the boiler.  Service representatives are trained to run diagnostics on biomass boiler systems.  They will recommend adjustments to optimize boiler performance, creating years of trouble-free operation and significant fuel savings.

Author: : Grant Gagner
Sales Manager, Woodmaster