Biomass Servicing – Safeguard Your Installation

Biomass is a great alternative to fossil fuel heating and can provide a great return on investment through the government backed incentive scheme – the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The boilers – which create heat through the burning of wood pellets, chips and logs – are considered to be a carbon neutral renewable energy and come with great benefits for the environment.

However, like many large household appliances, a lack of regular servicing and maintenance can affect the unit efficiencies and could effectively lose you money.

Signs your boiler may need a service

By keeping track of your boiler condition, you can often spot signs that your servicing visit is due. These can often just be visual checks of the system, or through experience – the longer you have the system installed, the more in tune you are with its operation.

Most of the servicing revolves around cleaning the boiler – unburnt fuel, soot and clinker (solidified ash) can begin to build up within the ash deposit and combustion chambers and cause problems when firing up the boiler. This can include a change in the flames during combustion – excessive black smoke or large yellow, wispy flames can be a sign you’re due for a service.

The primary areas affected by ash build up are the combustion chamber, heat exchanger and flues/chimneys. Most boilers have an automatic heat exchanger cleaning mechanism which cleans the surface of the exchanger to help aid efficiency – but this isn’t 100% fool proof and ash can still build up over time.

Excessive temperatures at the exit point of the boiler and fluctuations in O2 content are also signals to call your engineer.

Wood fuel quality

It’s fair to say that poor quality products are going to perform below your required standard. Using a low-quality wood fuel can have a significant impact on the reliability and performance of your biomass boiler, and use of contaminated fuel material can lead to long term damage to the boiler components.

By ensuring that your fuel supplier meets eligibility requirements for the RHI, you can avoid these poor fuel problems and prolong your biomass boiler efficiency. For more information, visit the Biomass Suppliers List (BSL) website.

Biomass boiler

Biomass buffer tank

How often should you service your biomass boiler?

This will vary depending on the manufacturer of your boiler, but typically stands at a minimum of one main service a year. By considering your boiler operation hours, you may find that you require two services a year (not necessarily every 6 months) or a service every 18 months.

For larger commercial boilers which have a greater number of safety systems, motors, fans and components etc. it’s key to consider having these serviced more regularly – perhaps quarterly.

Just because you get your boiler serviced regularly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t perform visual checks and adjustments when required. Between service maintenance, such as checking the fuel quality and consumption, cleaning and lubricating the regular components and understanding your boiler function will help prevent faults.