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How Does A Commercial Boiler Work?

A commercial boiler is one of the most important features of the infrastructure of a business. Even if the organisation simply runs an office, the boiler is integral to basic health and safety duties of providing heat and hot water for welfare facilities. However, in a school or hospital this need is magnified, and in a leisure centre the need for hot water for showers, for example, is constant. Other businesses in the manufacturing sector may need a constant supply of water for their production processes.

That’s why businesses need a commercial boiler to be reliable, because it is running for a long period of time and is needed for all that time. And for that reason the boiler has to run cost-effectively because this becomes a big operational cost to the business.

What is a commercial boiler?

The biggest difference between a commercial boiler and a boiler that we may have at home is essentially size and power. A commercial boiler needs to be much bigger, because it needs to disperse heat in a far larger environment and therefore, the demands on it are far more than for a domestic boiler. Also, a commercial boiler may be running 24 hours a day, so cost and reliability are very important and this needs to be built into the design.

Commercial boilers can differ in design, but in general, they are a pressurised system which uses a variety of different fuel sources to create hot water. This fuel source can be electricity, gas or a sustainable fuel such as wood. The fuel source is burned to create the hot water, which is then transported to all necessary points via a system of pipes. How the boiler operates and how much heat is generated, can be controlled by the user.

Inside a commercial boiler

Heat is created to provide hot water by a series of components inside the boiler:

  • Fuel burner: this produces the heat needed to heat the water, it can also be an electric coil.
  • Heat exchanger: this is a component which allows energy to be exchanged between two fluids or substances to create heat.
  • Combustion chamber: this is an enclosed chamber where the fuel is burnt and converted into heat, it is a safe and secure area that needs to be heavy duty and hence is usually made from steel, copper or cast iron.
  • Exhaust stack: this is pipework and a vent, which transports natural gases from inside the building to the outside, this is an essential safety feature because these can be toxic gases.
  • Controls: a commercial boiler will have controls to manage internal pressure, water temperature, fuel supply mixtures and ignition. These are important in the everyday running of the boiler, and also in managing use and therefore cost.

Maintaining a commercial boiler

Where fuel combustion is used, the burners provide flames to heat the water, and this flames needs to be strong, consistent and efficient, otherwise heat can be lost and the boiler won’t fulfill its basic function. This can be extremely damaging to any commercial organisation.

Maintaining a consistent flame can be achieved through a regular service and maintenance programme. An important feature of this is cleaning the inside. The flame burning so regularly produces a build-up of debris inside the boiler, this can become problematic if left as it can affect the consistency of the flame and block pipework and vents, meaning the flame has to burn more to create the same heat energy. This can lead to safety and efficiency problems. You also need to insulate pipework and valves to reduce heat loss, this is another factor in saving money and running the boiler efficiently. These maintenance measures also contribute to the quality of the water produced.

Advice on commercial boilers

Robinsons Facilities Services have many years of experience in the repair and servicing of commercial boilers in organisations operating in many different commercial sectors.

Our experience has shown us that many businesses are looking at more sustainable fuels as an alternative to traditional electricity, oil and natural gas. These include wood fuel used in biomass boilers and hydrotreated vegetable oil, a form of renewable diesel.

Some of these are developing technologies, but we can assess your system and operations and advise on the most practical and cost-effective fuel source for your commercial boiler, and our structured maintenance programme will ensure you have an efficient and reliable commercial boiler for years to come. Contact us today for expert boiler advice.

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