In North Carolina, the rules, regulations, and laws governing boilers are primarily overseen by the North Carolina Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Division. This post explores the different laws that are important to know about if you own or manage a commercial or residential building that relies on a boiler for heat.
Why are Boiler Regulations Important?
Boilers can be dangerous if they are not installed, operated, and maintained properly. Boilers are designed to generate heat and transfer that heat into water, generating steam or hot water. They use a variety of fuels to produce this heat, including natural gas, oil, coal, and wood.
If a boiler is not properly maintained, they can experience mechanical defects such as developing leaks and cracks. Infrequent professional inspections/testing can leave control system faults undiagnosed leading to serious problems such as a malfunctioning low water cutoff, which puts the boiler at risk in the event of a low water condition, or combustion control problems, which can lead to incomplete combustion and the production of carbon monoxide (CO).
Combined with the aforementioned mechanical defects, the CO could be released into the boiler space which is a serious health & safety concern. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause serious health problems or even death if it is inhaled in high concentrations.
In addition, if a boiler is not properly installed or operated, it can cause other risks such as:
- scalding (due to relief valves not being properly vented, or blowdown piping not being properly routed to drains)
- slips/falls (wet floors due to inadequate drainage)
- explosions or fires that can result in property damage, serious injury, or death
These types of accidents can occur if the boiler is not vented properly, if the fuel source is not installed or regulated correctly, or if the pressure inside the boiler exceeds safe levels.
This can all sound intense, but it’s important to note that modern boilers are designed with safety features and are subject to strict regulations and inspections to ensure their safe operation. Regular maintenance and inspections by professionals can help identify potential issues before they become dangerous, and proper training and education can help ensure that boilers are operated safely. Similarly, following the laws in your particular state are crucial to ensure safety. Below is the information you need to know in North Carolina.
Key NC Regulations to be Aware of:
Boiler Safety Act
This act sets the minimum safety standards for boilers and pressure vessels in North Carolina. It requires that all boilers be inspected and certified by an authorized inspector before being placed in operation. See the full NCDOL Uniform Boiler and Pressure Vessel Act.
Boiler and Pressure Vessel Rules
These rules provide specific guidelines for the construction, installation, operation, and maintenance of boilers and pressure vessels in North Carolina. They also outline the qualifications for boiler inspectors and establish procedures for the inspection and certification of boilers. See the NCDOL, Boiler and Pressure Vessel Safety website for more information.
National Board Inspection Code
North Carolina has adopted the National Board Inspection Code (NBIC) as its standard for the inspection, repair, and alteration of boilers and pressure vessels. All boilers in North Carolina must comply with the NBIC requirements.
ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code is also recognized as a standard in North Carolina. It provides guidelines for the design, construction, inspection, testing, and certification of boilers and pressure vessels.
Other Codes to be Aware of
The North Carolina Gas and Mechanical Codes have sections that are pertinent in boiler rooms as they deal with proper (required) means and methods of boiler room installation and constructions. Beyond these additional codes, you need to be aware that Local Authorities have jurisdiction, and may impose additional codes/requirements that need to be taken into account – these can be requirements of different counties or cities, for example.
Before a boiler can be installed or operated in North Carolina, permits must be obtained. This typically involves construction permitting, for example mechanical, plumbing, electrical permits, initially. The permit application process involves submitting detailed plans and specifications for the construction, including for equipment information on the boiler, and other equipment being installed. After installation and Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing inspections have been completed, but before the boiler is put into useful service, the NCDOL will conduct an inspection and issue a DOL permit for the boiler. This inspection/permit application process involves submitting you facility’s location and contact information, as well as information about the boiler installer, the boiler’s design/construction, along with proof of insurance and payment of fees, on the DOL inspection request form..
Boilers in North Carolina must be inspected regularly by an authorized inspector. The frequency of inspections depends on the type of boiler and its intended use. Inspections are designed to ensure that boilers are operating safely and in compliance with all regulations.
For other general information about regulations related to boilers, check out the NC Department of Labor for a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions. You can view the Boiler or Pressure Vessel Inspection Request form on their website here.
Wrapping It All Up
These are some of the key rules, regulations, and laws for boilers in North Carolina. It’s important to consult with the North Carolina Department of Labor for the most up-to-date information and to ensure that your boiler is in compliance with all applicable regulations.
As a building owner or facilities manager, you likely have a lot to do! Our boiler experts will keep you informed and compliant with North Carolina boiler laws. For all your boiler maintenance needs, contact W.C. Rouse today.