Annual Boiler Inspections, What’s all the Fuss?

Have you ever asked the following questions: Do I need a boiler inspection?  Why?  What should the boiler inspection include?  Who carries out the boiler inspection?  What do I need to do, before and after the boiler inspection?  Who preps the boiler for inspection?  What is a boiler inspection certificate? What do I do about boiler repairs?

We’re here to help.

Do I need a boiler inspection? Why?

Person performing boiler service

Boilers and Pressure Vessels are required to undergo periodic inspections, per state codes.   Boilers (as defined by the North Carolina Department of Labor, NCDOL) are closed vessels in which water or other liquid is heated, steam or vapor is generated, steam is super-heated, or any combination thereof, under pressure or vacuum, for use external to itself, by the direct or indirect application of heat.  This definition includes water heaters that exceed 200,000Btu/hr of heat input or 120 gallons of capacity.

Boilers are constructed according to standards dictated by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).  .  The construction requirements are defined by ASME Sections and Divisions.  Without going into the weeds, we are considering Section I and Section IV boilers.  Section I boilers are considered High Pressure (Power) boilers that operate at 15 PSIG or more.  Section IV (Heating) boilers operate at less than 15 PSIG.

States, logically, use similar definitions to define inspection requirements.  The timeframe for these inspections, in North Carolina, are:

  • High Pressure Boiler, External and Internal Inspection Annually
  • Low Pressure Boiler, External Inspections, Every Two Years

Though built to strict standards, boilers, like any piece of equipment, will face a life of wear and tear, as they are used in service.  Overtime, this wear and tear can compromise the boilers ability to operate safely.  The inspection is designed to be a periodic checkup on the boiler’s current condition, ensuring safe operation.  This checkup, along with inspection and tune-up services from a reliable boiler services partner can also extend the life of the boiler and improve its efficiency.

A thorough inspection should include;

Pressure gauge
  • Boiler cooled and offline
  • Boiler isolated from steam, water and electrical
  • Hydrostatic testing of boiler and piping prior to draining of the boiler
  • Drain boiler and open and inspect the boiler’s fire and waterside
    • Fire Side
      • Open Front and Rear Doors
      • Remove Rear Access Plug
      • Brush Flues
      • Vacuum all surfaces
      • Wash coat refractory and surfaces (as needed)
      • Replace all gaskets and close unit
    • Water Side
      • Flush loose scale
      • Remove low water cut-offs and clean
      • Remove and replace gauge glass and gaskets
      • Remove equalizer plug
      • Replace all gaskets and refill with water
      • Torque door bolts & waterside plates to customer specs
  • Safety Circuit Checks
    • ASME operational steam down testing for LWCO, Auxiliary LWCO, and Low Water alarms
    • Flame Scanner test
    • High and low fuel pressure switches
    • Operational control limits
    • High limit controls
  • Reset combustion (on both fuels, if applicable)
  • Remove debris generated
  • Re-tighten all Waterside and Fireside bolts, once the boiler is up to pressure, per manufacture spec
  • Complete Service Documentation, including 50-Point Boiler Safety Check List and photos of deficiencies

Who carries out the inspection? 

The boiler inspector will perform the inspection portion, it is the owner’s obligation to prepare the boiler for inspection, make any boiler repairs and place the boiler back in service.

An inspection certificate is issued, after inspection.  This is documented evidence that the boiler or pressure vessel has been inspected and is safe to operate under the conditions noted on the certificate.  Per North Carolina Law, no boiler may be operated without a current inspection certificate.

The boiler’s owner is responsible for;

  • Obtaining the periodic inspections provided by commissioned inspectors
  • Paying the required fees for the certificate of inspection
  • Maintaining a copy of the valid certificate of inspection on the premises
  • Obtaining proper repairs and involving the commissioned inspector in all repairs
  • Notifying the Boiler Safety Bureau in the event of an incident

What do I do about boiler repairs?

When a boiler is found to be in need of a repair, the work must be done in accordance with ASME code, by a licensed “R” stamp holder.  All required “R” reports must be filled out and submitted to the chief boiler inspector within 60 days of the completion of work conducted.

A thorough boiler inspection includes many steps and is a necessary part of owning and operating a boiler at the highest efficiency, longest life and most importantly as safely as possible – we can help! 

Call us at 877-927-6873 or contact us by clicking here, for your next boiler inspection, put our expert service technicians to work for you – available 24/7/365!  Offices near you in Greensboro, Charlotte, Wilmington, and Columbia South Carolina.

Jeff Lawley

After graduating from Florida State University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Jeff Lawley headed up the engineering department at Schaefer Interstate Railing. A few years later, he took an Engineering Sales position here at W.C. Rouse & Son, and over the next 8 years, he worked his way up to the position of President of the company.