Electrical Fundamentals Module #1 – The Groundwork

basic electricity

From askpins.com

You’ve probably been wondering when we were going to finally switch it up a little, get away from that nasty steam and HVAC stuff. We’ll get back to it soon enough as those are both huge parts of building engineering. Everyone has their strengths and electricity is not one of mine lol.

I discovered this electrical fundamentals book that lays out the basics first and then eventually gets into circuits, motors, and controls and more.

This first post for the fundamentals of electricity is going to set up our foundation of electrical terms,
definitions, and concepts. Having a good handle on these will only help us all later on when we get into
things like motor or circuit troubleshooting (really one of my weak points.)

Later we will lay out some basic definitions of electrical terms like voltage and resistance but first let’s
discuss what an electrical charge is. Read more

Boiler Classifications

boiler classificationThere you are, standing in the boiler room, or even worse, in a boiler room you’re not familiar with. The supervisor walks up and goes “Johnson, what type of boiler is this?” And instantly you’re on the spot. Do you know? Can you look at the boiler and tell? Don’t think I’d be able to without doing some leg work and poking around. Take a look in the peephole, see what’s going on inside.

It happens in the military and out in buildings and facilities with decent stationary engineer training programs, a little shaming. Some slight embarrassment at your expense if you will. That fear of being embarrassed should make you want to learn and have some answers beforehand yeah?

Well, we’re here to help out those seeking some quick answers on boiler classifications. We are going to briefly start at the top and then work our way into specific classes such as firetube or watertube boilers. For now, this will be more of an overview so everyone at least has some idea of what they’re looking at. Read more

First Set of Boiler Rounds – What You Should Look At

taking over a boiler operator shift

A Cleaver-Brooks boiler.

You can call it getting turn over from the previous stationary engineer, or taking over a boiler operator shift, here, let’s just say you are doing your first set of boiler rounds for the day.

If you are a building or stationary engineer, or boiler operator, one of the very first things you should do when getting to work is tour the boiler room. This is one of the first places I go through. By walking through here first, if I happen to notice anything I can ask the off going stationary engineer about it. Or, I can observe plant conditions and they can tell me why they have the plant operating that way.

What should you look at and check on the boilers? Is there anything you should be testing the operation of? There are a few things you should check as you take over the operation of the boilers for your shift, there are also a couple things to test as well. These don’t necessarily need to be performed during your first set of rounds but rather sometime during your shift at least.

There are tasks that should be performed hourly like checking the operation of the feed pumps; there are also tasks that should be performed every 20 minutes like checking the water level inside the boiler. Let’s not focus right now on the time requirements but just the task. This post started out with just a handful of items to look at. Even now, typing this, it has grown.

Out of this entire list I’ve scratched out on a post-it note, I would say there are 2 more important than the others. Can you name them without reading ahead? I bet you could name at least one. Read more

Positive Displacement Pumps – what they are & how they differ from centrifugal pumps

positive displacement pump book

Course book from Amazon

More engineering training people, this time on positive displacement pumps. There are basically two types of pumps, centrifugal and positive displacement.

In one of the first posts to the site, we began with centrifugal pumps and some of their characteristics. This post will deal with the other half of those pump classes – positive displacement.

It’s important that you know the differences between the two classes, mainly because the type of pump you choose, or that should be installed on that system, will be dictated by the fluid being pumped and the purpose of the system.

A building or stationary engineer should be able to look at a pump and be able to give out at least some rough classification characteristics like if it’s a positive displacement type or centrifugal. You should also be able to determine what type of pump SHOULD BE installed based upon the system and purpose. How do you tell? No idea, but the information below just may help. Read more

Basic Boiler Steam Cycle Drawing w/ Explanation

After the novel yesterday, anything less should be easy yeah?  Figured this post we could write a little but include a very simple one line drawing of a basic steam cycle in the life of a water molecule in a boiler system.

For whatever reason, Paint, yes MS Paint, used to be basic, rudimentary, and kind of intimidating. You felt like you couldn’t really do anything, like Notepad (which I use every day now lol,) and whatever you could draw, looked like crap a few clicks later.

Paint is perfect for engineering drawing though. Basic shapes, straight line tools. I’m sure there are way better but for throwing together basic stuff for a knucklehead audience, it’s perfect.

The refrigeration cycle drawing is up, but that is it. We should do more posts with drawings and schematics and we will. It helps with the explanation, they are fun to make, and a person can visually comprehend what is going on as they read. Read more

Basic Steam Cycle – Generation

basic steam cycle steam generation

Typical boiler doing work.

To make it easier to understand steam production or generation, you should know what happens to the steam both inside, and after it, leaves the boiler. There are basically four phases or sections of steam production. These four phases of a main steam system are generation, expansion, condensation, and feed. Over time, we will discuss them all.

This post will cover the first in that list of four – steam generation.

As you go through, do your best to try and tie in the other concepts and ideas we’ve talked about – heat and energy transfers, the laws of the conservation of energy, the laws of gases, etc. It’s all related.

Probably the best way to learn how the steam plant or system in your building, facility, or home operates is to trace the path of steam and water throughout its entire cycle of operation. In each phase of a basic steam cycle, the water and steam flow through the entire system without any exposure to the atmosphere. Read more

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

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