How Much Does it Cost to Service a Commercial Boiler in 2024?

How Much Does it Cost to Service a Commercial Boiler

Introduction

A boiler is an integral part of any building’s heating system. Boilers are responsible for providing hot water, steam, or heat to the rest of the building. Because they are such an important part of a building’s functioning, it’s crucial that you have them checked regularly. Boiler service technicians will ensure that your equipment is operating at maximum efficiency and that parts are replaced as needed to prevent costly repairs down the road. This post explores the need-to-know information about servicing a boiler so you can be prepared.

What are the Benefits of Servicing Your Boiler?

If you want to get the most out of your boiler, then it’s essential that you service it regularly. This will reduce the risk of breakdowns and increase efficiency, which can have a positive impact on your building’s overall comfort level. Furthermore, it will also improve heat output as well as reduce fuel bills and emissions.

Maintaining boiler efficiency ensures you meet standards set by the Department of Energy (DOE). As of January 10th of 2024, all commercial packaged boilers are required to meet updated standards. If you haven’t had your system serviced recently, now’s the time to have someone come out and take a look.

How Often Should You Service Your Boiler?

First, let’s discuss the types of boiler services available. Routine boiler service breaks down into two main categories; internal inspections (or annual inspections) and preventive maintenance (PM). There are also seasonal shutdown and startup services for boilers that are taken out of service for parts of the year.

Annual inspections (AI) typically involve a comprehensive inspection of oilers or pressure vessels as required by state and/ or local authority pressure vessel codes and laws. These sorts of inspections are typically required annually for high-pressure steam and high-temperature hot-water boilers. AI’s involve draining the boiler, opening, washing out the waterside, and cleaning the fireside so it is ready for review by the state inspection, then closing and refilling the boiler – boilers must be off and allowed cool to be safely drained.

Preventive maintenance is an external inspection of the boiler. They may involve some “internal” work, for example replacing an ignition electrode as part of the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance.

Both annual inspections and preventative maintenance should finish with a combustion tuneup where stack gas is analyzed and combustion is set for safety, efficiency, and reliability.

Your boiler’s operations and maintenance manual should be consulted for the manufacturer’s minimum recommended services and intervals. The frequency of these services varies depending on the type of equipment, equipment age, and needs of each facility. If your boiler is more than 10 years old (or has been serviced very infrequently), consider having it inspected every 3 months instead of annually to avoid problems down the road.

In the past, we’ve had clients start with a monthly preventative maintenance schedule after taking over a facility with a history of poor maintenance. When the boiler room equipment was back in good shape (after about a year), we settled into a quarterly schedule that works for their facility.

For larger industrial, commercial, and institutional boiler installations, we recommend a quarterly schedule with services every 3 months, coinciding with seasonal changes. This breaks down into three PM visits, and one AI. The combustion tuning coinciding with seasonal changes can further improve efficiency and reduce energy costs.

Alternatively, you could also schedule services biannually, if that better fits your facility’s needs. For example, if you “lay up” your boiler, which is when you temporarily shut it down during warmer months when it is not needed, it’s a good idea to have it inspected when you’re restarting your boiler – one seasonal shutdown with inspection (any repairs can be completed while the boiler is offline and one startup with combustion tuning.

A qualified boiler service company will be able to preload your custom service schedule into their dispatch software, so they can keep up with your boiler room’s maintenance schedule, allowing you more time to focus on other areas of your facility.

When and With Whom to Book Your Boiler Service

Boilers are complicated machines that warrant being serviced by the expert hands and eyes of a professional. With large gaps between service appointments, it’s easy to forget about your boiler’s needs. Scheduling future service appointments during your current one will help you stay proactive with maintenance.

If you haven’t had your boiler serviced in over a year, reach out to a qualified boiler service company to have the unit serviced ASAP. A lot can happen in a year, and the system could be losing efficiency, which will cost you money.

When you’re researching a company to book for your boiler service, be sure to find one with a good reputation. You’ll want to make sure they can service the type of boiler (and its controls) in your building.

What does a boiler service include?

What Does a Boiler Service Include?

A boiler service is a thorough inspection of your boiler and all of its components. A trained technician will check the following:

Isolate Boiler (Annual – Internal)

  • Electrical 3‐phase and single phase
  • Fuel(s)
  • Steam
  • Feed Water

Open Fireside and Waterside (as applicable) (Annual – Internal)

  • Fireside
    • Front Doors
    • Rear Doors
    • Rear Access Plug
    • Brush Flues
    • Vacuum all surfaces
    • Wash coat refractory and surfaces
    • Replace all gaskets and close unit
  • Waterside
    • Remove low water cut offs and clean
    • Remove conductivity probe and clean, if applicable
    • Remove and replace gauge glass and gaskets
    • Remove equalizer plug
    • Flush boiler
    • Replace all gaskets and refill with water
    • Torque door bolts & waterside plates to customer specs

Complete Boiler Safety Check List, including but not limited to; (AI and PM)

  • Inspection of;
    • External Boiler Condition
    • Review of blowdown, feedwater, steam header piping conditions
    • Review of instrumentation, control piping and trim conditions
    • Blowdown Valve Operation
  • Safety Checks for Flame Safe Guard, FSG Components and Safety‐Related Trim, including but not limited to; (if equipped)
    • Operational blowdown testing for LWCO, ALWCO and Low Water Alarms
    • Scanner/Flame Detector
    • Operating Control
    • Limit Control
    • Modulating Control
    • Water Level Control System
    • Gas Pressure Switches
    • Oil Pressure Switches
    • Air Flow Switch
    • Atomizing Air Switch
    • Gas Vent Valves
    • Operation of Solenoid and Motorized Gas Valves
    • Proof of Closure
    • Travel Switches in Mod Motor
    • Visual Relief Valve Check

Testing of and combustion tuning on all fuels specified on contact/quote/order form (AI and PM)

  • Test and tune burner at Low, Mid and High Fire Positions
  • Stack Gas Analysis at Low, Mid and High Fire Positions
  • Operational Check for Smooth Light off
  • Operational Check for Low‐Fire Shut Down
  • Operational Test of Flame Signal for Main and Pilot
  • Confirm draft requirements meet manufacturer requirements
  • Operational Test for Smooth Operation of Control Valves/Dampers
  • Test Current Draw Motors, vs Manufacturer Recommendations

Re‐tighten all Waterside and Fireside bolts, once boilers is up to pressure, per torque spec (Annual – Internal)

Inspect burner components and clean as needed, including but not limited to; (AI and PM)

  • Air Inlets
  • Damper Blades
  • Blower Wheel
  • Remove and Clean Pilot Assembly
  • Oil Nozzle
  • Diffuser

Written documentation of deficiencies, including photos and recommendations for corrective action, if any are found.

How Much Does it Cost to Service a Boiler?

The cost of a boiler service depends on age, condition, efficiency, type of boiler, type(s) of fuel it is firing, controls used, and more. Other factors such as the type of service, your location, and the length of time since your last service all play a role in the total cost. These factors can vary, making it hard to give a good estimate without seeing the boiler room equipment in question.

The best way to determine the cost to service your boiler is to have a qualified service company come to your facility, review all of the boiler room equipment and provide a detailed estimate.

In general, the larger the boiler, the more expensive the inspection will be (some types of boilers can be inspected by a single technician, while others require two or more techs on site). The types and quantity of gaskets needed and other manufacturer-required components also affect the total cost. Industrial Water Tubes are generally more expensive to service versus a smaller or even similarly sized fire tube (scotch marine) boiler.

The type of fuel used can also affect the cost of regularly servicing boiler systems. Boilers that fire multiple fuels cost more to tune up as each fuel requires its own stack gas analysis and tuning time.  If the oil system was not tested routinely by the facility in between services, there could be additional costs to sort out any undiagnosed problems with the oil delivery and combustion components. 

Boiler Service and Repair: What’s Your Best Option?

Servicing a boiler is essential to maintaining the system. Without preventative maintenance, boilers will become more expensive to run, minor repairs will spiral into costly replacements, and the system could fail at inopportune times. Working with professionals to stay on top of boiler servicing will reduce future complications and keep you prepared if things go wrong.

If you have any questions, you can rely on WC Rouse’s expert technicians to provide high-quality customer care with boiler installation, servicing, and 24/7 emergency repair.

Jeff Lawley

President
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.