industrial boiler re-tubing

A Quick Guide to Re-Tubing a Boiler

admin boiler maintenance, boiler repair, boilers

Many industries rely heavily on their boilers — however, too many neglect the standard maintenance tasks of these vital pieces of equipment. Checking the integrity of the tubing and scheduling needed re-tubing maintenance can prevent the complete failure of the boiler and save you the cost of buying a new appliance.

A service provider can restore a boiler’s operation by replacing corroded or scale-encrusted tubing. Though prevention of damage to tubes should remain a goal, re-tubing can help to extend the boiler’s life and prevent damage to the unit.

An industrial boiler is a crucial part of any business, and without proper boiler maintenance, it may fall victim to corrosion or deterioration, which can lead to a total halt in production. When your unit’s tubing has corroded, eroded or formed a large amount of scale, it can lead to total outage, loss of production and power generation loss. So, in keeping with routine maintenance, you’ll need to enlist re-tubing service from a certified R-Stamp holding company to keep it working efficiently.

What Is Boiler Re-Tubing?

Boiler re-tubing involves a series of steps that include inspecting and replacing the tubes in the boiler. This chore should happen when inspections of the unit indicate serious problems in the boiler’s tubing, such as pitting or scale buildup. In fact, damage to tubes ranks among the most common causes of boiler destruction.

With re-tubing and subsequent water treatment to protect the new tubes, a boiler can return to almost like-new operation. Restoring productivity and extending the boiler’s life are both valuable reasons to consider re-tubing as an alternative to boiler replacement.

When to Schedule Boiler Re-Tubing

Steam boiler re-tubing is an extensive process that replaces all the tubes in a boiler. Because it requires more time than standard repairs, you must carefully consider when to schedule the job. Conditions of the boiler’s tubing should dictate when you request this procedure because some circumstances will require more frequent servicing of the tubes.

For instance, having a boiler without treated water can cause corrosion buildup faster. Hard water may also cause more scale build-up on the water-side of the tubes. Boilers with properly balanced water may require re-tubing less frequently.

When you schedule your boiler re-tubing, you should also consider scheduling a boiler rental. This will allow you to have a functioning boiler in place while your primary boiler is being repaired.


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Why Do I Need Re-Tubing for My Boiler?

You may need to re-tube your boiler for several reasons, including:

1. Corrosion of Tubing

Corrosion in the tubing can cause pitting and a loss of integrity. This problem has several causes, such as too much oxygen in the water and improper storage of standby boilers.

Boiler water with a high oxygen level commonly causes corrosion, and a deaerator can effectively drop the corrosion rate of the boiler tubes. Lacking the means to remove oxygen and other gases or failing to keep up with the deaerator’s maintenance could hasten tubing corrosion and pitting.

Incorrectly storing standby boilers cools down the units. Under normal operation, the interior of the tubes does not absorb moisture when hot on the fireside. However, when the boiler cools, ash deposits in the tubes can hold onto moisture, resulting in pitting and corrosion at those spots. Keeping boilers hot during storage can prevent this cause of tubing corrosion.

2. Inability to Pass a Hydrostatic Test

The level of pitting in tubing may not severely impact a boiler’s operation. Because a visual inspection may not provide enough information, your boiler should have a hydrostatic test. Failure to stand up to a hydrostatic test indicates that you cannot put off re-tubing.

3. Scale Buildup

Untreated hard water can cause mineral deposits on the outside of the tubing. Over time, the buildup of minerals impedes heat transfer, preventing the water from properly cooling the tubing. When the temperature of the tubing gets too high, it can rupture or blowout.

How Much Does It Cost to Re-Tube a Boiler?

Of course, businesses must always look at the bottom line. The cost of re-tubing a boiler can vary, depending on a number of factors. However, re-tubing a boiler will almost always be less expensive than replacing it. Re-tubing will allow you to get more use out of your current boiler and restore its efficiency.

Benefits of Boiler Re-tubing with a close up of an industrial boiler

Benefits of Boiler Re-Tubing

Re-tubing a boiler restores the unit’s operation and makes it safer since the tubes do not have the risk of blowouts. Choosing to re-tube can save a significant amount of money, as the process represents a fraction of the cost of replacing the entire boiler. By choosing to rent an emergency boiler during the process, you don’t have to lose business because your boiler is out of service while it undergoes re-tubing.

How to Re-Tube a Boiler

The process of re-tubing a boiler varies among providers and boiler types. However, all re-tubing jobs start with an inspection of the unit to determine the scope of re-tubing required. This first step identifies where problems in the boiler’s tubes exist before removing those damaged parts for replacement. Depending on the findings, the technician may also conduct a hydrostatic test.

The remainder of the process includes removing the damaged tubes and replacing them. However, this does not complete the procedure. Due to the high temperatures and pressure boilers have, the completed repairs require inspection and approval before you can use your boiler again.

Things to Look for in Boiler Re-Tubing Services

Boiler re-tubing is never a process a boiler owner should attempt. This procedure requires expertise and testing to ensure the completed boiler meets code standards.

To ensure the safety of your workers and the integrity of the work, always have a professional, R-stamp certified company conduct the boiler re-tubing procedure. Organizations with this certification ensure their work maintains the high standards set forth in the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Valve Inspectors code.

Also, look for re-tubing services that provide rentals of boilers. This additional feature lets you work with a single company for the repairs and to get a temporary unit to prevent a decrease in production at your facility.

Lastly, find a boiler re-tubing service that has years of experience in the business. Company longevity indicates a business that provides quality repairs and works with their customers. Customers that trust their boiler repair services will return to that service provider when their units need fixing.

What R-Stamp Certified Means

“R-stamp certified” is a designation from the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Valve Inspectors. This certification indicates a repair, “R,” organization has all the requirements that show its expertise. Having a current agreement with an authorized inspection agency is one of the requisites. Another is creating a written Quality Control Procedure that outlines the scope of the repair activities it does. This Quality Control Procedure document must adhere to the National Board Inspection Code.

Those who have this mark have a high level of professionalism and expertise that will keep repairs strictly in line with safety and operation codes. When it comes to repairing pressurized boilers and their components, proof of ability to safely and correctly fix the unit according to code is critical.

Keeping Your Business Running While Having Your Boiler Re-Tubed

The process of boiler re-tubing takes time. During the repair time, you cannot use the boiler. However, even with your boiler out of service, you do not have to stop operations.

Renting a boiler to fill the gap in productivity during the re-tubing process on your boiler lets you keep your business running. Though renting a boiler will contribute to the total repair costs, it will prevent a loss of profits from stopping operations until your boiler repairs finish.

Boiler rentals include steam, thermal fluid and hot water models to most closely replace your boiler. The timespan for the rental will include the re-tubing process in addition to the inspection and clearance of the finished work. Discuss this time length with the technician because every re-tubing job has different requirements.

contact smith hughes for your industrial boiler needs

Contact R-Stamp Certified Smith Hughes to Re-Tube Your Industrial Boiler

Reach out to us at Smith Hughes Company for an R-stamp certified provider of boiler re-tubing services that has operated since 1946. All our technicians have OSHA certification to ensure they work safely at your site.

For industrial boiler services and turnkey solutions that include rental, installation and new parts, in the Cincinnati tri-state area, contact Smith Hughes.