Boilers are fuel-burning appliances that produce either hot water or steam that gets circulated through piping for heating or process uses. Boiler systems are major financial investments, yet the methods for protecting these investments vary widely. Proper maintenance and operation of boiler systems is important with regard to efficiency and reliability. Without this attention, boilers can be very dangerous.
Fire-tube boilers rely on hot gases circulating through the boiler inside tubes that are submerged in water. These gases usually make several passes through the tubes, thereby transferring their heat through the tube walls and causing the water to boil on the other side.
Fire-tube boilers are generally available in the range of 20 through 800 boiler horsepower (bhp) and in pressures up to 150 psi.
Most high-pressure and large boilers are of this type. It is important to note that the small tubes in the water-tube boiler can withstand high pressure better than the large vessels of a fire-tube boiler. In the water-tube boiler, gases flow over water-filled tubes. These water-filled tubes are in turn connected to large containers called drums.