What Are the Most Common Industrial & Commercial Boiler Problems

What Are the Most Common Industrial & Commercial Boiler Problems

Whether your facility uses it’s boiler for pharmaceutical processing, brewing beer, or for food processing capabilities; boiler problems that lead to breakdowns are virtually every industrial and commercial organization's most intense nightmare. The ability of the boiler to meet steam processing demands and or heating demands is critical to the functioning of your facility. And when boiler problems occur, it's almost always at the worst possible time. 

The most common boiler problems can range from missing insulation to blockages. Although some boiler problems may offer noticeable, visible signs; other problems will require a closer inspection and investigation to actually determine the cause. If you're concerned about the system any time your boiler is having problems, you should never chance it. 

It's best to contact an expert who can provide repairs and assure you of the safety of your system. Unfortunately, boiler problems will never fix themselves and tend worsen over time if left unattended. Let's take a closer look a some of the most common industrial and commercial boiler problems. 

Missing Insulation

If your system is missing insulation, it will have reduced efficiency. The insulation on your boiler works to contain heat in the system. Whenever the heat can easily dissipate and isn't contained in the system, it will require more fuel to maintain the proper pressure and temperature. 

Missing insulation is rarely visible. And the most effective way to detect this common boiler problem is with a thermal imager, but most facilities do not have access to a thermal imager. You may potentially detect a missing insulation problem by noticing increasing energy costs without an increase in the use of the boiler. If you suspect you have missing insulation, the best step is to contact an experienced boiler maintenance professional for an inspection. 

Irregular or Infrequent Maintenance

Regardless of the physical manifestation, irregular maintenance is usually at the heart of every boiler problem. Every boiler should have regularly scheduled maintenance based on the regularity the boiler is used. Failing to conduct regularly scheduled maintenance on your boiler may initially lead to minor problems being overlooked, which turns into much more serious issues and even potentially injuries. 

In the worst case scenario, not checking your boiler can cause a catastrophic boiler explosion from combusting fuel, water levels dropping too low, failed trip switches, and more. Regular inspections can identify and correct faults before they become major problems. 

The cost of maintenance will always pale in comparison to the potential catastrophic outcomes, downtime from broken boilers, and loss of productivity. Avoid overlooking maintenance and make sure to schedule regular maintenance. There are even several visual inspections you can conduct yourself

Water Leaks

If you operate a steam or hot water boiler, leaks can occur virtually anywhere in the system. While you may be able to spot visible dripping around the pipes or tank, leaks are not always visible, such as with water leaking through your air vents. Hidden leaks make accurately identifying the problem much more problematic and require the use of a water meter. 

A water meter can detect hidden leaks by determining whether you're losing water in a closed system. Over time a leak in a closed system will result in a drop in the available water level, which eventually will cause the system to shut down. 

If your system leaks but the water level doesn't significantly drop, atmospheric moisture is probably entering your boiler system. Since atmospheric moisture is untreated water, it can help expedite the wear on your boiler investment. 

If you have a leak in your system, it may be more cost effective to remove leaking parts and replace other components all at once. This is because of the labor required to remove leaking parts of your boiler in hard-to-reach places. However, under no circumstance should you ever try to fix a leak yourself. 


Pressure-related industrial boiler problems can include a range of different conditions and are directly related to boiler safety issues. Let's look at a few of the most common pressure-related boiler problems. 


Problems with a lack of pressure are directly related to a leak somewhere in the system. Whenever a steam pipe leaks, the boiler loses the ability to generate the required interior force. You can visibly check your boiler for leaks by starting with a check of the valves because these are the usual suspects when it comes to small holes affecting pressure. 

Exterior Tank Leaks 

The exterior of the tank is another common location where leaks can prevent an increase in pressure. Open boiler systems with fresh water tanks can have water that boils away at the water line, which results in a hole in the cast iron jacket. If you can't visibly see a hole, it's best to contact an experienced professional to fix the gap or leak. 

On-Off Water Feeds

Pressure-related problems can also occur whenever boiler tanks have an on-off type water feed. Although new water is heated whenever it enters the tank, it's still colder than the water already in the boiler. 

The variance in temperatures causes the steam production to decrease until the cooler fresh water warms up. Lower steam production can temporarily cause the pressure in the boiler to drop. However, a continuous feedwater system may be the ideal solution to remedy this problem. 

Undersized Heating Elements

In addition, an undersized heating element can be the culprit of pressure-related problems. If your element is too small, it will not sufficiently heat and boil the water in the tank, which will cause it to fail to generate enough steam. 

As long as your boiler was installed by a professional, this will hardly ever be the problem. Yet, if your boiler system wasn't designed and installed by an experienced professional, this may be the cause of your boiler problem. 

Scale Buildup & Blockages

Poor water quality can have a significantly negative effect on your boiler system. Calcium and other minerals can accumulate on your pipes and boiler as deposits of scale, which will slow the flow of steam and ultimately block it entirely. Deposits in your system will bolster the amount of fuel required to achieve the same output. 

As a result, it's imperative to have a water treatment system for your boiler. If you don't already have a water treatment system, you should consider one immediately. For example, Marlo, Inc.'s water treatment equipment works to prevent buildup and other problems caused by water minerals. 

Contact Applied Technologies of New York 

At ATI of New York, we are the boiler room and combustion product experts. We offer state-of-the-art equipment from the leading manufacturers in the world. In addition, we bring decades of experience providing customized cutting-edge solutions across a variety of industries, including:

Contact ATI of New York today.

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