If you are an engineer or facilities manager maintaining steam boilers, you will no doubt have asked
Why does water treatment cost so much?
Here’s a quick breakdown of what you are paying for (and how to get more for your money)
COST No1 – CHEMICALS
Usually, chemical dosing programmes consist of:
- Oxygen scavenger
- Precipitant / Polymer
- Alkalinity Builder
You may also use a chemical to protect your condensate system
Your biggest spend (and opportunity for saving) is likely to be on oxygen scavenger.
Oxygen scavengers remove oxygen from the feedwater before it gets to the boiler, this prevents corrosion as corrosion needs oxygen in order to take place. So, if you can remove more of the oxygen by other means, you need less oxygen scavenger – and you could make a significant saving.
See our article on corrosion in steam boilers to see how to do this.
We recommend that you review the water treatment chemicals you use and see if there are better alternatives.
Also – review the volumes of chemicals you use; are you using more than you should be? And check your £spend – are you getting everything you are paying for?
COST No2. SERVICE
This usually includes a service engineer coming to site and carrying out water tests with a kit – the results of these tests will guide your entire programme, so they are important. Make sure you get good, clear advice about what the results mean and what you need to do. Getting this wrong can result in major problems and serious costs.
You could save money by opting for a cheaper service provider, but beware – this is usually false economy. Good water chemistry saves you water, fuel and avoids problems like downtime and repairs.
Good service providers will ‘go the extra mile’ by
- attending boiler inspections and regularly reviewing your programme
- addressing problems before they escalate
- identifying improvements and helping you implement them
You can also reduce your spend (and improve your water chemistry) by carrying out some tests in-house. By investing in training and a basic test kit, you could make significant improvements to your water treatment and benefit from reduced fuel, water and chemical usage.
Part of the cost of your programme is for your provider to produce reports showing test results, summary reports, recommendations etc, and for a system to keep the records in. This should be user-friendly – you need to be able to access this information to manage the system, and you may need to call upon it as evidence of your compliance.
If you are paying for a comprehensive record keeping system – make sure you understand it and can make use of it, otherwise consider a simpler more cost-effective system.
IN SUMMARY, OUR SUGGESTIONS ARE
- Make sure you understand your costs – get a breakdown from your service provider
- Review your programme – do you need everything you are paying for?
- Track chemical usages and review often – are you using more than you need to?
- Congratulate yourself and enjoy the peace of mind!