Clean Your Linkage! - From the Grime Newsletter

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  • 10/8/2013 |
  • 10:00 am
Clean Your Linkage! - From the Grime Newsletter
Just like the engine in your car, boilers have need of a certain fuel-to-air ratio for proper

combustion. Too little air results in incomplete combustion, but too much creates wastefully heated air

that gets exhausted through the flue. Since changing factors such as ambient temperature, pressure,

and humidity can cause variations in air quality, it is prudent to add an excess amount of air to account

for these variations. To add the proper amount of air to mix with the fuel, controls are used to introduce

air to the system at the burner. Of the boilers currently in use in the United States, many older models

utilize a simple control called a mechanical jackshaft for their modulating burner control. These are also

known as single-point controls due to their use of only one mechanical linkage assembly to control the

flow of both air and fuel for the burner.

The whole point of utilizing these controls is to ÒtuneÓ the boiler in order to achieve complete

combustion. With that in mind, anything that prevents mechanical controls from operating to their full

range limits the amount of air that can enter the burner, thereby jeopardizing the combustion and

efficiency of the boiler. One of the most common mistakes made that impairs the controls is painting

the linkage or failing to keep it clean; this leads to what is known as Òsloppy linkage.Ó Paint or grime

covering the linkage will prevent the controls from allowing fine adjustments, hindering an operatorÕs

ability to regulate the air being added. During the inefficient operation that inevitably results, expensive

fuel can be wasted, and the rated steam output of the boiler is harder to deliver.

There are also significant long-term consequences to sloppy linkage; for example, depending on

how filthy or covered the linkage is, the valves can eventually stick or bind, which is going to require

otherwise unnecessary maintenance to repair. If the valves are out of position and air is improperly

mixed with fuel, excess soot may build up in the boiler and flue, which may necessitate a premature

shutdown of the system for cleaning or repair. WareÕs own Gary Seltz notes that Òone of the most

common issues we see is bent linkage that people have accidentally kicked.Ó Care should be taken

around the jackshaft, as not all equipment in a boiler room is as robust as the boiler itself. It is estimated

that damaged linkage can be replaced in about four hours, so depending on when that changeover must

be performed, it could mean more downtime and less steam generation for your company.

When a boiler is not being operated properly, you may be liable for any repairs due to

negligence. By taking some simple steps to ensure that equipment is properly maintained, you can avoid

costly and time-consuming repairs. It is recommended that the controls be checked at least twice per

year (though quarterly would be ideal) to see if seasonal adjustment or tuning is needed. Make no

mistake, linkage can be marked upon, but fully covering the assembly with paint or allowing it to get

filthy only serves to create long-term problems that are easily avoidable. Maintaining efficiency with

your boiler prolongs its life, avoids down-time for repairs, and reduces operation and maintenance

costs. So remember: keep your linkage cleanÑitÕs easy and will save time and money!

**WARE Grime Newsletter. Pentad Associates does not take any credit for what has been stated above.
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