FAQ: What is Boiler Dry-Firing?

Preferred Utilities Manufacturing Corporation pic

Preferred Utilities Manufacturing Corporation
Image: preferred-mfg.com

Redding, CT resident David Bohn serves as president of the Preferred Utilities Manufacturing Corporation in nearby Danbury, CT. The firm engineers and manufactures commercial and industrial utility products such as boilers. Accordingly, David Bohn remains apprised of developments in the HVAC industry as well as relevant safety concerns.

Dry-firing is a common concern for those who work with boilers, especially on an industrial scale. Keep reading to learn about the common causes of dry-firing and the best ways to prevent it.

Question: What does in mean when a boiler dry-fires?
Answer: Boilers rely on carefully-managed levels of pressure and temperature. When a boiler runs out of water, the steam pressure plummets. The boiler works overtime to create more pressure, but the lack of water also causes a cooling failure. This causes the boiler to become very hot very quickly.

Q: How is dry-firing caused?
A: Dry-firing is a perfect storm of problems. First, the feedwater supply must be interrupted. Safeguards such as a low-water cutout alarm and a flame safeguard system must also be disabled or malfunctioning, as these safeguards would usually turn an emptying boiler’s flame off. Lastly, operator error or failure to observe the previous problems is usually a contributing factor.

Q: How can dry-firing be prevented?
A: Installing redundant feedwater pumps allows for continued boiler function if one pump fails. Special pressure transmitters can help operators monitor pressure more efficiently, and a combination of regulations and equipment for boiler testing can help operators catch problems early, before a dry-fire occurs.


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