As HVAC professionals begin getting their sleepy boilers ready for the upcoming heating season, they know that the first few weeks of heating season can be hectic, as dormant boilers are lit and unexpected startup problems pop up all over. It’s typically a time with some long days and a steady stream of calls from residents and building operators.
Professionals who’ve been doing this for a while, know that even if a boiler has been professionally inspected and serviced during the summer months, idle heating systems are still susceptible to both sediment and corrosion. Sediment settles out of the cold motionless water and compacts in pumps and valves, and of course as Mr. Young famously said, “rust never sleeps.”
The physics of heating system inactivity conspires to create a rich set of winter startup problems for commercial heating professionals. As a premiere manufacturer of advanced heating control systems, the experts at Heat-Timer® have seen their share of these startup problems, and taught building managers a few tricks for using our controls and room sensors to diagnose these issues.
1. Preventing Pump Problems. Because of this summer’s accumulation of sediment and rust, pumps are one of the first things that a technician checks when they turn on the boiler. Often a pump won’t start because the impeller is embedded in sediment. If the pump does start, it may leak through dried out seals. This often leads to a pump disassembly, cleaning and rebuild, or full pump replacement.
This expensive fall pump ritual can be prevented with a little exercise. A pump lead lag controller like the Heat-Timer® PLL can exercise boiler pumps by running them for a short period every week during the off-season, keeping seals wet and flushing out sediment. The Heat Timer® PLL also has low flow alarms which when interfaced to a Platinum series controller, can alert the boiler service company or building manager that there is a pump failure at any time during the heating season. Often these problems can be diagnosed and resolved without a visit to the boiler room, thanks to our BuildingNet® interface or mobile phone app.
2. Oil Fired Boilers – For oil fired boilers, clogged fuel filters can be another start-up problem as a summer’s accumulation of black sludge is stirred up and sucked into the filter when the oil tank is filled in the fall. This can cause hard to diagnose boiler lockouts as the burner is intermittently starved for fuel unless that oil filter is monitored with a vacuum sensor like Heat Timer’s Oil Filter Monitoring Kit. An oil filter monitor connected to a Platinum controller can give a building manager plenty of warning that a fuel filter needs to be replaced, so that it can be changed at the next regular boiler service, rather than during a late-night emergency call after a boiler lock-out.
3. Plumbing Decay – While pumps and filters are the obvious problem areas during boiler start up because they are right there out in the open, there are invisible problems in the boiler room too. Pipes, condensate tanks and the boilers are eternally and invisibly rusting from the inside out. Boiler tube leaks are common start-up problems on older boilers. Iron pipes can suddenly develop pinhole leaks. Steam traps can fail to close properly. Even when these leaks are as obvious as a puddle on the floor, it can be days before someone goes into the boiler room and notices it. On the other hand a leak from a steam line or steam trap can be hard to see even if a service technician is looking for it, and water leaking from inside the boiler may evaporate and go up the stack, but not before causing further corrosion problems in the burner and the flue ducting.
Fortunately, the days (and nights) of discovering water leaks only after the sump pump alarm goes off are long gone. Sensitive boiler feedwater meters connected to BuildingNet® through a Platinum controller continuously measure boiler make-up water usage. Building managers can use BuildingNet’s trending tools to visualize long term changes in boiler water usage week to week or season to season, helping identify water leaks while they are still small and inexpensive to fix rather than after they have flooded the boiler room, shutting down the boiler and damaging equipment.
Heat-Timer® Controls Save Money and Maintenance Headaches
There is a lot to keep an eye on in those first few weeks of boiler operation, especially if you are responsible for multiple buildings. Knowing that your boiler controller has your back, monitoring everything going on in the boiler room can make waking up the boilers a lot less stressful. Heat-Timer® has been helping boiler service professionals wake up the boilers for over 80 years with a deep toolkit of controllers, sensors and alarms.
If waking up the boilers is keeping you awake at night, consider upgrading to Heat-Timer’s Platinum controller with a BuildingNet® remote interface.
Original content posted on https://www.heat-timer.com/its-fall-time-to-wake-the-boilers/
BuildingNet® New Alarm Features
Remote boiler controls like Heat-Timer® Platinum Series under control of web-based interfaces like BuildingNet®, have given building managers and heating contractors the convenience of managing all their buildings, and boilers remotely. Perhaps one of the most useful features of this system is the programmable, automated alerts that can be sent. With properly configured alerts, the right person is notified as soon as there is a problem, meaning boiler lock-out or water leaks may often be fixed before the tenants even know there is a problem. With such a system, the days of midnight runs to the boiler room to find oneself knee deep in brackish water, maybe all but over. The key to solving this problem correctly is the flexibility and ease of configuration of the remote alarm sensors and alerts that are configurable in your system.
As is the case with many complex systems, however, there is having the cool features, and then actually using them. Ease of use and configuration complexity is an issue for everyone, no matter how well trained the HVAC technician or building super is…
Some heating system control software offers so many choices of alert levels and recipient groups that it becomes difficult to tell who is going to get what alarm. The result is that critical alarms get ignored because of alarm fatigue, responders don’t receive critical alarms and trivial alerts cry wolf constantly, defeating the purpose.
Other building control software claim to be easy to configure, but it is only easy to configure because it has limited functionality. It does not give enough choice of alarms and alarm recipients to be useful, except for managing a small single building.
With the September 2020 update of BuildingNet®, building managers have even more powerful tools that allow the right alarms go to the right people easily – whether they manage a single building or a large portfolio of buildings. The alarms are easy to configure, exceptionally reliable, and the average user can configure the software themselves without reading the manual even or spending hours on the phone with technical support.
Why Heat-Timer’s BuildingNet® Stays Ahead of the Competition
BuildingNet® is easy to use, scalable and has the features that building managers and HVAC professionals depend on because Heat-Timer® has listened to its customers and added the features that matter most to them. In this update, BuildingNet® is introducing three new alarm features.
Temporarily suspend alerts
Configuring alarms for multiple sensors in multiple buildings can be time consuming, even with a good configuration interface. Then once the alarms are configured, no one wants to completely delete an alarm just to keep it from sending alerts during scheduled maintenance or during the off-season. Now available with BuildingNet® is a new temporary alarm suspension feature. The user can temporarily suspend specific alarms to handle situations where equipment or sensors are offline during repair, maintenance, or off-season. The user only receives the alarms they need and does not have to delete alarms and then reconfigure them every fall.
For a manager, it can be annoying when employees copy you on every single email, flooding your inbox and burying the important emails that need your attention. Some building management software is like that, flooding you with alerts that can easily be handled by the technicians on duty, and burying that critical alert that needs answering.
The new BuildingNet® multi-tier alarm eliminates alarm overload. This new feature allows the user to set alarms to be escalated to supervisors first, and then to managers only if the problem is not taken care of within a set duration of time. The alarms can go first to the technicians on call. The technicians have the information they need to respond and fix the problem, yet Heat-Timer’s alarm escalation indicates that supervisors and managers are still on top of the situation, knowing that they will be alerted and can respond if an issue is not fixed within a set time.
Executive summary portfolio wide alarm report
Coupled with the multi-tier alarms is a new executive summary report. This allows managers to view the full alarm activity on the customer portfolio every morning, even if they are no longer receiving every alert thanks to the new multi-tier alarm feature. This summary report will be a valuable tool to identify problem areas, plan staffing levels and make upgrade decisions.
To ensure that these new features are utilized, Heat-Timer® has listened to its customers again. At the same time, Heat-Timer® is introducing these new alarm features and streamlining the configuration interface to make BuildingNet® even easier to configure and administer.
Three step sensor set up and alarm configuration
The new sensor set up and alarm configuration makes configuring the sensors and alarms in a building easier than ever. The software guides you through the three-step process making it easy to set the right alarms for each Platinum controller, and to also ensure that those alarms go to the right people.
In the first step, every wireless and wired sensor in a building or Platinum series control panel is named and configured using intuitively designed tables. The user simply needs to move down the rows showing the available sensors and fill out the information. Once the sensors have all been configured, the user can then configure the alarm alerts in step 2.
The Platinum controller alarms, and the wireless and wired sensor alarms are configured using the same intuitive tables used in step 1. The user can quickly go through the rows of alarms, setting alarm parameters. The allowed settings for each alarm are clearly displayed in the row.
Once the sensors and alarms are configured, the last task is to define the recipients for those alarms and determine how those alarms are escalated. A single pop-up box for each alarm allows you to select a recipient, specify if they are to receive an email or text alert, and then set the tier level. The tier level setting defines the order that recipients will be notified of an alarm, so that the alarms initially go to the person first in line to respond and then are progressively escalated up the tiers if an alarm is not cleared after a set time period.
Easy configuration of email/text alerts
Sending an urgent alarm to someone who left the company six months ago does not help you maintain tenant satisfaction. BuildingNet’s new interface makes it easy to maintain the list of alarm recipients in the database, and to keep their email addresses and phone numbers up to date. Coupled with the new alarm configuration menu, BuildingNet® makes it easy to ensure that the right alarms go to the right people, every time.
Your Remote Capabilities are Only as Good as Your Underlying Control
While many heating control manufacturers boast about their remote capabilities, the real purpose of remote boiler management software is to manage real boilers in real buildings. Only Heat-Timer® offers best in class Platinum controllers for steam, and hydronic and DHW systems, whether it is one boiler or multiple boilers. While building managers and HVAC professionals are enjoying the benefits of the powerful and easy to use BuildingNet® software, Heat-Timer’s Platinum controllers are in the boiler room 24/7 reducing fuel costs and providing reliable heat to building tenants.
Original content posted on https://www.heat-timer.com/buildingnet-new-alarm-features/
Heat-Timer® corporate office and manufacturing facility is conveniently located in Fairfield, NJ. Here, Heat-Timer® manufactures its electronic controls, sensors, valves and actuator products using specialized computer controlled equipment and automated testing systems.