How to Clean a Steam Y Strainer

how to clean a y strainer

Steam y strainer – it’s the dark looking y to the left of the valve.

A couple months ago at work, we were having issues maintaining the proper pressure on one of the low pressure steam systems.  The cause, well one of the causes, ended up being due to a clogged steam y strainer.  Using some pics, this post is going to go over cleaning a steam y strainer.  There are a lot of factors actually in choosing how often to clean them, we probably aren’t going to get into that.  It’s just important that if you do operate a steam system with y strainers, keep it in the back of your head that you should do some preventative maintenance on them.

I’m not a home heating expert by any means but I believe I have seen y strainers on them as well, tiny little ones that look like sideways y’s.  Those should have preventative maintenance done as well.  They are easy. Read more

What Are Ball Valves Used For?

ball valves

Ball valve internals.

Ball valves are stop valves that use a ball to stop or start the flow of fluid.

We have talked about stop valves before, and how unlike throttle valves which regulate flow, they completely start and stop fluid flow. At least they should anyway, if you understand English and comprehend the sentence I just wrote, ball valves are not throttle valves and should not be used to regulate fluid flow.

Just like gate valves, if you use them to throttle flow, you will shorten their lifespan which ultimately means more work for you. Or me. Don’t let me catch you doing it.

Ball valves are used extensively in industrial applications because they are very versatile. They can support pressures up to 1000 bar, which is over 14,000 psi, and temperatures up to 752°F (500°C) depending on the ball valve design and construction material. Plus, they are super easy to repair and operate as you can see from the pics. What is there, like 6 pieces? Read more

Combustion In A Boiler

what is combustion in a boilerThis baby is going to be all about combustion. Mainly, this will be geared for combustion in a boiler but we are going to cover the definition, the different types of combustion such as perfect and incomplete, as well as the role that one of the boiler support systems, combustion air, plays.

Combustion sure seems like a simple thing to understand. What do you think of when you hear that word?

Something on fire or burning would probably pop into most peoples heads. Combustion is key to boiler operation and controlling the rate of combustion is just as important. First, let’s make sure we have a foundation to start from and define combustion. Read more

How Often Should You Bottom Blowdown Boilers?

boiler bottom blow down valves

The valves associated with a boiler bottom blowdown. This is also where you drain from. We’ve got that one circular handled valve, and then the two to the left with lever handles.

Easy question yeah?  Must be a standard for bottom blowdowns everyone here should be saying.  There is, sort of.  The number of bottom blowdowns actually required daily is a moving target.  There is not one set answer for every single boiler.

It is a simple answer though.

The quantity of bottom blowdowns required each day, for each boiler, ultimately depends on the conductivity of the boiler water.

Don’t forget that conductivity is merely a reading of the amount of solids, both dissolved and undissolved, floating around inside causing corrosion.

If that was the answer you came looking for, there you have it.  Below here, we are going to dive deeper into it.  Talk about why we are actually concerned with the frequency of bottom blowdowns, how to adjust and fine tune your own.

This is perhaps the most common question asked and debated about by building and stationary engineers. Read more

Water Treatment & Building Engineering

boiler water treatment

Conductivity and pH meter.

What is water treatment? Why do building engineers care about it? Is it really that important?

We’ll dive deep into water treatment and why we care about it throughout the post and yes, it really is that important.

It’s important as stationary engineers or boiler operators that we first, have a water treatment program, and second, actively monitor our water treatment. By actively monitor I mean frequent and routine sampling and testing and also using those results to determine actions or a plan of attack. Read more

Low Pressure Boilers Book Review

What are the 4 most basic books every building or stationary engineer should have? Of those four, how many do you think a regular homeowner should have?

This post is going to be a review of the book Low Pressure Boilers. It’s not going to be the garbage copy taken from Amazon but a real review from a building engineer.

The four books, imo, are:

  • Low Pressure Boilers
  • High Pressure Boilers
  • Modern Air Conditioning & Refrigeration
  • Uniform Mechanical Code

And I think every person that is taking care of their own home or families should know a little about engineering, trouble shooting, and repairs. But that’s just me and I’m not most people. Are you? How can people not be hungry to learn more? Read more

Gate Valves

what is a gate valve

Cutaway view of a gate valve. The yellow part is the gate.

Gate Valves – what they are & when to use them

There are too many types of valves to cover them all. An earlier post covered some valve basics, you can click here to start there if you like.

Basically there are valves that start and stop flow completely, or valves that throttle and control the flow of fluid. Valves are designed with their purposes in mind, if we need to shut off fluid flow completely, we will use a stop valve.

One of these stop valves is called a gate valve. We are going to briefly discuss gate valves, their design, and classification types. Read more

Indoor Air Quality – What it is & why you should care

indoor air qualityIndoor air quality has been around forever, but just like everything else us bonehead humans didn’t start paying attention to it until recently. Indoor air quality is technical, fickle, and in general a pain in the behind.

It is necessary. As a building engineer or homeowner, it’s important to at least have a handle on what’s going on both at home and at work. Are you like me and burn a lot of wood in a fireplace? Our indoor air quality is lower than someone that doesn’t. We need to take extra care in ventilating our
home. Feel me? Read more

How to Blow Down a Boiler

how to blow down a boilerYou know what’s going to happen when you open that last valve on the boiler for your blowdown, you’ll feel that high pressure steam go frothing and rumbling past the valve disc and seat. You know you’ll catch that familiar smell of the pipes and insulation heating up during those few steam filled seconds.

You don’t? Good thing you’re here then, today we are going to cover how to blowdown a boiler. Blowing down a boiler is easy, exciting, and there are reasons we do it as building engineers and maintenance people.

Bottom blowdowns involve periodically opening valves tied to the mud drum to allow boiler steam pressure to force accumulated sludge out of the boiler. Read more

4 Ways to Lower Your Air Conditioning Costs this Summer

ways to cut ac costs

The Goodman in my backyard.

Running your air conditioning unit can get kind of expensive these days, especially if you’re anywhere like me in the mid-south.  It hits about 100F in the summer but registers like 115F on the heat index.  When I was little I used to think air conditioners were basically luxuries, ceiling fans too lol.

We never had either one of them and the only time I ever saw a window air conditioner was when we visited my grandparents in Wisconsin.  Everyone made SUCH a huge deal when the air conditioner was on that I thought it must be made of gold and diamonds.  Did someone just move a curtain and let sunlight in?  You did not just inhale some of the just cooled air did you Steven?

Money is tight now anyways right?  It is for me.  I have mentioned my psycho-ness about how I maintain my home temperature and thermostat settings in other posts.  This is primarily way to save on energy consumption.  I am not this green composting save the Earth guy, I’m save as much money as possible guy.  But I do compost so hush your mouth.  That’s because I garden.  To save money and get outside.  You can buy a pack of literally 3 million seeds for .08 cents so you do the math. Read more

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