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Boiler Basics 101: Types of Boilers

When we think about boilers, there are a two types that typically come to mind; firetube, or scotch marine, and watertube boilers. These types of boilers can be classified as hot water, steam, high pressure, and low pressure. In today’s blog post we will be answering the question: what are the basic differences between the different types of boilers?

Although their final function is the same, the main difference between a firetube and watertube boiler is the construction and design of each system. In a firetube boiler, water inside a vessel is surrounded by tubes that contain combustion gases. In other words, the ‘fire’ is inside the tubes, making it a ‘firetube’. Watertube boilers are essentially the opposite in design. Combustion gases surround a series of tubes that contain water, coining the name, watertube.

By definition, high pressure boilers are built to a maximum allowable working pressure (MAWP) above 15 psig, while low pressure boilers are designed for operation at 15 psig or below. Low pressure boilers are most commonly utilized in heating applications and require less maintenance than that of a high pressure unit. Furthermore, firetube boilers can be built for both low and high pressure applications, while watertube boilers are typically built for high pressure needs.

Some may think that firetube and watertube boilers are in the same category as hot water and steam boilers. However, steam and hot water boilers are actually a classification, and can be considered a subcategory to firetube & watertube boilers.

Hot water and steam boilers operate in a very similar manner, but hot water boilers don’t actually produce steam. In reality, a hot water boiler is just a fuel fired hot water heater, in which heat is added to increase the temperature to a level below the boiling point. Hot water boilers are not as powerful as steam boilers, which is why they are more commonly used in heating applications providing hot water at 120 – 220F.

Steam boilers heat water to levels that are above boiling point, in order to produce steam. They are much more powerful and are utilized in more industrial and heavy-commercial applications. Steam boilers can be designed to produce either saturated or superheated steam, which we will discuss further on in a future post.  

Be it a firetube, watertube, hot water, or steam boiler, they are all effective and efficient in their own unique ways. To learn in more detail about the differences between boiler types, visit the section on our website, “What Boiler Is Best For You”.
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Protect Your Boiler from Freeze Damage this Winter

When winter comes along, freeze protection should be a major consideration for any boiler owner or renter. Protecting your boiler from freeze damage is simple: enclose, insulate, and/or heat trace. If you continue operations as usual and allow your boiler to be exposed to near or below freezing temperatures, you will have a high probability of costly damage and system failures.

Below are a few reminders on the proper steps to take when it comes time to protect your temporary or permanent boiler system from the cold climate.

  - Enclose both the front and rear of the boiler, or build a full temporary enclosure, and utilize an external heating source.
  - Install the proper heat tracing (steam or electronic) and insulation to all of your main lines and piping components, regardless of if the
    boiler is in operation or not. This includes the following lines:
          - Sensing lines
          - Auxiliary low-water cut-off
          - Water column
          - Level control blowdown
          - Main and continuous blowdown, depending on length of piping runs
  - During non-operation times, drain and fill all sensing lines with a 50/50 water/glycol solution, making sure to re-connect each line.
  - When an extended downtime is expected, completely drain the boiler and all stagnant water lines.

In addition to the recommendations above, use sound engineering calls when it comes to deciding the correct freeze protection measures. And if you happen to have damage this winter, we have your back with a rental boiler to get you by during the repairs!

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Never Forget 9-11

Two Rental Boilers & One Feedwater Van at Ground Zero After 9-11
We will always remember those who risked their lives and those who lost their lives on this tragic day in history.

We are grateful today and always.

2018 9 11 Remembrance

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First of Three 200,000 lb/hr Boilers Headed to the Middle East

First 200,000pph Boiler Ready to Load the Ship at the Port of Houston

Nationwide Boiler is pleased to announce that we recently secured our largest rental project in our fifty one year history! This long-term rental includes three (3) 200,000 lb/hr, 750 psi / 750F superheated steam, skid-mounted package Babcock & Wilcox watertube boilers. We are also supplying a plant master work station and one (1) deaerator with pumps for the duration of the rental. The equipment will support the start-up of Saudi-Aramco's 106-square-kilometer refinery and terminal in Jizan, Saudi Arabia.

The first boiler was loaded at the Port of Houston over this past weekend, beginning a six week journey to the Port of Jizan. The other two boilers, along with additional equipment, will be coordinated in a phased shipment process.

Take a look at the time lapse video below to see the first boiler being loaded on the ship, and read our press release for additional details on this major rental project.

Great job to all involved and we look forward to a successful project!

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