Basics of Boiler Gasket Kits and Seals

Boiler gaskets and boiler seals are made of a variety of materials, sizes, and shapes to meet different purposes and service demands of boilers. Using the right boiler gaskets and seals for your boiler is important for promoting boiler efficiency, reducing maintenance costs, and minimizing potential hazards. Here are some basic points of knowledge about boiler gaskets kits and seals to help you promote safety and cost-savings in the boiler room.

Gaskets for Boiler Doors

  1. It’s important that the boiler door gaskets meet the manufacturer’s specifications.
  2. Gasket type and selection for boiler doors depends on the design of the door. Some boiler doors have channels that run around the perimeter of the door, other boiler doors have flat steel faces, and still others have grooves and bolt holes (sometimes) for tadpole gaskets, which when looked at down the length of the gasket resemble the shape of a tadpole.
  3. In a Cleaver Brooks boiler door, it’s important to seal the edges of the boiler door, and also it is important to seal the tile baffle across the middle of the boiler door to prevent gas crossing the baffle barrier.

Boiler Fireside Gaskets and Seals

  1. Boiler gaskets and seals for the fireside are important for containing gases, thus preventing gas leaks. Therefore reusing boiler gaskets can be dangerous. At each annual inspection or after a boiler repair requiring opening of the fireside, replace all boiler fireside seals with new materials to ensure containment of gases.

Boiler Waterside Gaskets

  1. Waterside gaskets seal water under tremendous pressure.
  2. On the waterside gasket, the main considerations for gasket selection are all about pressure and temperature.
  3. Some people prefer Topog-E gaskets made of rubber, while others prefer metal flexatallic gaskets for their boiler.
  4. Once the pressure exceeds 600 psi or around 500 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll need a gasket that will accept a higher temperature.

We hope these tips help you better select and understand boiler gaskets and seals. If you need boiler gaskets, seals, fiberglass tape, tadpole gaskets, or boiler gasket kits for Cleaver Brooks Boiler, Hurst Boiler, Superior Boiler, Kewanee Boiler, or other major boiler lines, call Joe Moore & Company at (919) 832-1665.

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Steps to Recover Boiler System After Flood

With the widespread property damage and personal injuries caused recently by Mississippi River flooding, here are some basic guidelines for boiler operators and boiler owners to consider when recovering their boiler system after flood waters recede.

  • Flood waters may carry hazardous chemicals, oil and gasoline, bacteria, or raw sewage, so take precaution when returning to a boiler room and wear proper PPE or hire appropriate abatement services to mitigate any hazards that may be present.
  • Ensure that all equipment in the boiler room is effectively locked out and that all potential energy sources are isolated.
  • If electricity is still running to the boiler room, be cautious that standing water or soaked insulation could be electrified. On the other hand, if you return to your boiler room during a power outage, beware that power being suddenly restored to the electrical grid could cause accidental startup or reenergizing of boiler equipment if it is not properly locked out prior to inspection and repairs.
  • Visually inspect the entire boiler system both internally and externally, and make notes about obvious damage or repairs required. Take pictures to aid documentation. Contact your insurance agency to discuss claims.
  • Carefully examine the boiler setting and position to determine if the flood waters caused the boiler or boiler room building to shift. If either occurred, then piping and other equipment attached to the boiler or building could be adversely affected and may need replacement. Do not operate the boiler if the boiler foundation has been compromised.
  • Wet insulation will cause external corrosion on steel boilers, tanks, and pipes. If removal is necessary, thoroughly clean and dry equipment before applying new insulation. If asbestos is present in the old insulation, ensure that qualified asbestos abatement personnel contain and remove the asbestos.
  • Check all insulation and refractory inside the firebox and/or on the rear and front doors of the boiler. Check refractory and firebrick linings for deterioration, erosion, or loosening.
  • Thoroughly clean feedwater and condensate return systems of mud or debris left behind by the flood waters.
  • Inspect all inlet, outlet, drainage, and blow-off lines for blockage.
  • Inspect pressure relief devices for corrosion or damage that affects proper operation of the device. Replacement or professional repairs by a qualified service may be required.
  • Inspect all electrical controls and components.
  • All electric motors and wiring should be inspected closely to determine if repair or replacement is necessary.
  • Flame safeguards, ignition transformers, and safety shutoff valves on the fuel system should be replaced. Don’t take chances with these devices, as there is greater potential for explosion if any one is malfunctioning. Have the burner inspected by a qualified burner technician.
  • If the boiler system burns natural gas, beware that gas valves and controls are especially vulnerable to flood water damage. Even if appearing clean on the outside, the inside components may be critically damaged affecting the proper performance of the device.
  • Drain, clean, repair or replace other fuel system components.
  • Inspect air inlets and exhaust stacks for blockage, debris, or damage.
  • It is not recommended to run the boiler if properly treated feedwater is unavailable. Untreated water inside the boiler and tubes can quickly result in corrosion and pitting. If you must run the boiler with untreated water, follow manufacturer’s recommended blow down and cleaning procedures for doing so.

Restoring a boiler after a flood requires caution and careful work. Keep safety a priority. The above list is not an exhaustive checklist for returning a boiler room to operation, but it is a basic framework for developing your recovery plan. For complete recommendations on cleaning, repairing, and caring for your boiler equipment and parts, consult the manufacturer’s recommendation, or contact Joe Moore & Company at (919) 832-1665. We have decades of experience and relationships with various boiler and boiler parts manufacturers, and we can help you get answers.

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Five Common Reasons for Refractory Lining Wear

Erosion, glassing, and evidence of gas penetration

Corroded and worn refractory firebrick.

The primary needs for refractories as protective linings are destructive process environments. As a result of harsh environments, refractory linings will wear down over time, requiring periodic maintenance and eventual replacement. In any process environment, refractories are potentially continuously under attack from a number of destructive processes. Here’s a list of common conditions that wear down refractories.

  1. Thermal Cycling: As refractory linings undergo the heating and cooling cycles of a process, the lining expands and contracts, eventually weakening and wearing down the lining. If a refractory lining experiences a rapid change in temperature, a.k.a Thermal Shock, the lining can experience immediate damage.
  2. refractory firebruck failure

    Glassing on refractory firebrick.

    Abrasion: Abrasive media, including fuel, ash, and other particles, can wear away a refractory lining over time, much like sandblasting.

  3. Corrosion: Materials and byproducts of the process can chemically react with the refractory lining, potentially causing glassing or softening of the refractories.
  4. Mechanical Wear: Moving parts and equipment within a process can wear against the refractory lining, jeopardizing the structural integrity of the refractory lining.
  5. Erosion: Linings can be worn away over time from the washing action of moving liquids, such as molten metals or slags. Erosion further exposes refractory to destruction by corrosive or abrasive elements.

These are just a few of of the common conditions that wear down refractories. The effects of many of these conditions can be mitigated or minimized by selecting the right refractories to withstand the destructive conditions present in your process. Joe Moore & Company has decades of experience selecting refractories and engineering refractories solutions. If you are experiencing problems with your refractory, please give us a call at (919) 832-1665.

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Where to find the North Carolina boiler code online

If you manage the operation and maintenance of boilers and pressure vessels, you may find it helpful to know where you can find additional information about the North Carolina Boiler Safety Bureau and the Boiler Code.

What is the North Carolina Boiler Code?

According to the NC Department of Labor website, the North Carolina Boiler Safety Bureau, a division of the NCDOL, “is responsible for establishing and enforcing minimum safety standards for boilers and pressure vessels”. These minimum safety standards are outlined in the UNIFORM BOILER AND PRESSURE VESSEL ACT OF NORTH CAROLINA (Chapter 95, Article 7A of the N.C. General Statutes enacted by the General Assembly in 1975), and are more commonly referred to as the North Carolina Boiler Code. The boiler bureau’s website along with a full copy of the boiler code can be accessed through the NC Labor home page.

Here are the steps to find the NC Boiler Code online:

nc boiler code information

Location of more NC Boiler Code Information

  1. Go to www.nclabor.com
  2. On the left of the home page, click “Boiler Safety” under Standards and Inspections.
  3. On the left of the Boiler Safety page, under Boiler Safety Quicklinks, click Boiler Safety Laws and Regulations. A PDF of the North Carolina boiler code will open.

If you have any questions about the North Carolina boiler and pressure vessel code, we at Joe Moore & Company can help you with answers. Just give us a call at (919) 832-1665 and ask for Kathy, our Boiler Division Manager and Code Welding QCM.

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Why Refractory Dry-in Schedules are Important

refractotory lining ready for dry-in in north carolina

Refractory castable and plastic linings (as pictured) must be dried-in.

“Drying-In” refractory castables after installation or repair is critical to increase the effectiveness and lifespan of a new refractory lining, but many end users shortcut the manufacturer’s recommended dry-in schedule because of the cost and time involved. Proper refractory dry-in often requires a minimum of twenty-four hours, and speeding up the process can be tempting when production is at stake. However, short-cutting the dry-in process carries risks, as shortcuts can cause catastrophic refractory lining failure due to high steam pressure building up inside the lining.

Why Do Refractories Need to be Dried-in?

Refractory castables are designed to be mixed with water and installed in a fluid state, similar to cement, and they must be cured at ambient temperature after installation. Following curing, some of the water used in the installation process is trapped inside the refractory lining, so the refractory must be “dried-in”, or slowly heated up beyond 212F to operating temperature, to allow the moisture within the lining to gradually escape as vapor through the pores in the lining.

Potential Refractory Failure: Spalling from High Pressure Steam

Refractory installation projects require significant time and costs. By the time the end user has their boiler or furnace back, they are often eager to get the equipment online. End users commonly shorten the refractory dry-in process in order to more quickly reach full operating capacity. However, heating up refractories too quickly poses the most significant risk of failure.

As the water in the lining exceeds boiling temperature and turns to steam, it expands volume over 1600 times. The manufacturer’s recommended dry-in schedule allows ample time for expanding steam vapor to escape gradually from the castable. If the castable is heated too rapidly due to an abbreviated dry-in schedule, then there is serious risk of high pressure steam building within the refractory lining as the steam rapidly expands, causing the refractory to rupture and spall. Thus, shortening the dry-in cycle may not necessarily save time and money, it could result in another shutdown to tear out the damaged lining and reinstall refractories.

Who Can Help with Refractory Dry-in?

Joe Moore & Company is an authorized contractor installer and distributor for major refractory manufacturers. We are trained by the refractories manufacturers to select, install, and dry-in refractories in a variety of applications, including boilers, furnaces, incinerators, and stacks. Call us today at (919) 832-1665 if you need assistance with refractory selection or refractory repairs.

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A Brief Overview of Refractories

refractory lining

Refractories are used as protective linings in destructive process environments.

Refractories serve as protective linings in destructive process environments to protect from heat, corrosion, and abrasion. Refractories can be found in boilers, incinerators, furnaces, and other process units, and they play a critical role in the safe and efficient operation of power plants, steel mills, refineries, manufacturing facilities, and wood and paper mills. Often, a major refractory failure inside a process can bring production to a halt.

The manufacture of refractories

Refractories are manufactured from hundreds of raw materials that are mined from a variety of locations around the world. While the majority of raw materials is sourced from Asia, South America, and Africa, American mines supply some raw materials, such as clays, alumina, and special silicas, to refractories manufacturers.

The classification of refractories

Refractories have many classifications. They are classified by raw material composition, such as alumina-silica or basic, by properties, and by form. The properties of refractories include density, bonding chemistry, strength, service temperature, insulating value, thermal shock resistance, and abrasion and corrosion resistance. In general, the properties of a refractory are dependent upon the quality of raw materials used in the manufacturing process.

Refractories are further classified by their form after manufacture, either brick or monolithic. Brick encompasses firebrick, insulating firebrick, and other fired shapes, while the monolithic class includes castables, plastics, and gun mixes.

Choosing the right refractories

Choosing the right refractory for a specific application is both a science and an art. While refractories engineers design refractories to withstand certain destructive processes, environmental conditions differ from one process to the next. Therefore, previous experience in the field plays a major part in proper refractories selection and installation. The most important considerations are the destructive processes that will be attacking your refractory linings, but that is just the start. A variety of other factors play into the decision making, such as construction methods, process efficiencies, and budget.

If you have questions about refractories, contact Joe Moore & Company today at (919) 832-1665. We have installed refractories since 1957, and we have the experience and knowledge to help you choose the right refractories for your process.

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Pressure Relief Valve Basics for Boilers and Pressure Vessels

Pressure relief devices vent excess pressure which could rupture a boiler or pressure vessel. If all other safety devices or operating controls fail, the pressure relief device must be capable of venting excess pressure. The most common types of pressure relief devices are:
  • Safety Valve – Typically used for steam, it operates automatically with a full-opening pop action and recloses when the pressure drops to a value consistent with the blowdown requirements prescribed by the applicable code.
  • Relief Valve – Typically used for liquids, it operates automatically by opening farther as the pressure increases beyond the initial opening pressure and recloses when the pressure drops below the opening pressure.
  • Safety Relief Valve – Includes the operating characteristics of both a safety valve and a relief valve and may be used in either application.
  • Temperature and Pressure Safety Relief Valve – Typically used on potable water tanks, the valve has pressure-relief function as well as a temperature-sensing element which causes the device to open at a predetermined temperature regardless of pressure.

Pressure relief devices must operate as designed in order to perform as required. Different types of problems can prevent normal operation:

  • Constant leakage of the device can cause a build-up of scale or sediment around the discharge opening, which can prevent proper operation.
  • The inlet piping connected to the device must not be smaller in diameter than the inlet opening of the device.
  • The discharge piping connected to the device must be no smaller than the discharge opening of the device because pressure could develop on the discharge side of the device while operating.
  • If multiple pressure relief devices discharge into a header, the header must be properly sized to prevent subjecting the devices to pressure on the discharge side of the device while operating. Even a small amount of pressure in the header could affect the operation of the device.
  • Discharge piping connected to the device must be supported so as not to impart any load on the device body because the load could affect the proper operation of the device. If the discharge pipe arrangement allows for expansion as the boiler heats and cools, it must allow for full range of movement to prevent load on the device body.
  • Drain holes in the device body must be open to allow drainage of liquids from over the device disk on spring loaded valves. Any liquid allowed to remain on top of the device disk can adversely affect the operating characteristics of the device.

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Joe Moore & Co. Welding QCM to Represent R Stamp Holders to National Board

Ms. Kathy Moore, Welding Quality Control Manager for Joe Moore & Company in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been appointed to the Advisory Committee of the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors to represent R Stamp Holders to the board. Kathy has managed Joe Moore & Company’s NBIC R-stamp and ASME S-Stamp program since the 90′s, during which time she has overseen countless boiler repair and pressure vessel repair, fabrication, and installation projects.

Congratulations, Kathy, on your accomplishment. We know you will represent well the interests of R-Stamp Holders across the nation.

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LWCO maintenance can prevent catastrophic boiler failure

boiler explosion

A steam explosion launched this boiler out of the building and into the parking lot.

According to the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors, low water conditions are the cause for 50% of all boiler related accidents. Low water conditions exist when water falls below a certain level recommended by the manufacturer for safe boiler operation. If water drops below the furnace level, the metal overheats and can rupture the furnace and tube sheet causing a steam explosion. The rapidly expanding steam has the potential to launch a boiler out of the building, as seen in the picture above.

Low water occurrences often result from a malfunction in the Low Water Cutoff (LWCO) control device, which fails to recognize a low water condition and shut off the fuel to the boiler.

Boiler LWCO

Clogged Boiler Low Water Cutoff (LWCO)

In the picture to the left, notice the sludge that has accumulated in the LWCO.  This sludge can develop quite rapidly, rendering this safety device ineffective. If the water level in the boiler were to drop below the predetermined level, this device would not call for more water nor would it signal the boiler system to cut off the fuel. By setting up a schedule for regular and thorough boiler maintenance and inspection, dangerous hazards like these can be avoided, making your boiler room a safer place to work.

Here’s a procedure that Joe Moore & Company service techs use to check LWCOs:

  1. Blow down the water column and observe that the water level in the sight glass returns quickly.
  2. Confirm that the shunt switches are working properly.
  3. Place the boiler control in manual and set the firing rate at a minimum.
  4. Observe the water level in the sight glass.
  5. Close the feedwater valve to the boiler in order to generate a slow drain condition.
  6. Confirm that the feedwater pump re-circulation line is in place and operational, so that the pump will not dead head.
  7. While the boiler is operating, observe the water in the sight glass noting where the first LWCO shuts the boiler off. Make sure the water level does not leave the sight glass.
  8. Open the feedwater valve to the boiler in order to establish a normal operating condition.
  9. Again, observe the water level in the sight glass.
  10. Override the first LWCO, take note of the water level in the sight glass, and operate until the second LWCO shuts the boiler off. Remember; do not let the water level leave the sight glass.
  11. Open the feedwater valve to the boiler in order to establish a normal operating condition.
  12. Reset the second LWCO.
  13. We also replace the low water cut-off gaskets as part of our standard maintenance procedure.

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