Industrial steam boilers are imperative for seamless process operations in manufacturing facilities. Operating personnel take every effort to ensure that the boiler system is efficiently operating and immediate action is taken after detecting any issue. Although various components of the steam boiler help in preventing any damage, the sight glass or gauge glass is vital in detecting an issue in the first place. It is crucial to maintain a proper water level to ensure the proper functioning of the boiler system. But, it is not possible to peek inside the system while it is operating. Sight glass in steam boilers is an effective method for checking the water level of the system.
What is Sight Glass in Steam Boilers?
Sight glass in steam boilers, also referred to as gauge glass, is a small and simple component that plays a vital role in the operation of the steam boiler system. Sight glass offers an easy-to-understand visual readout of the water level in the steam boiler and effectively prevents hazardous overheating incidents that occur as the water levels fall too low and heating elements become exposed. Therefore, it is essential to take good care of the sight glass in the steam boiler so that the system can continue to operate safely and efficiently.
The objective of sight glass is to allow the plant personnel and engineers to examine the internals of the boiler systems without hindering the environment within. Often referred to as gauge glasses, it enables a way to see the levels of fluids or gasses passing through a critical point of the system design, monitor pressure changes, and overall anything else that the sight glass windows could allow to observe.
Design and Material of Sight Glass in Steam Boilers:
Sight glass in steam boilers is usually simple in design. Earlier, it consisted of a glass tube that is linked to an important part of the boiler system, like a tank or a gas inlet. However, modern industrial sight glasses are manufactured from a glass disk held securely by bolts and gaskets between two metal frames to maintain the standards of sanitary fittings. The glass used is usually soda-lime glass or borosilicate glass. Stainless steel is the ideal choice for metal because of its superior strength and abrasion resistance.
Sight glass must withstand every type of material and fluids that come into contact with it to avoid the tarnishing or degrading of the sight glass, restricting the ability to use it for system monitoring. While examining through a sight glass, the level of fluid observed against the glass indicates the level of fluid at that point in the steam boiler system. Bubbles against the glass are a sign of a liquid/vapor mix. If observed through a clear sight glass while the boiler system is operating, it indicates a full line of liquid or entirely lack thereof.
Sight glass is particularly important for equipment like steam boilers as it requires maintaining boiler water levels within a specific range to maintain operations and prevent boiler system failure. Fortunately, as the water pressure below and the steam above is equal, we can use a sight glass to observe any change in the steam boiler water level. A sight glass in a steam boiler usually includes two different index marks, i.e., a low-water threshold and a high-water threshold. Reaching a point much above the top mark leads to the risk of overfilling the boiler, which can prevent steam from rising into the boiler system. Reaching below the lower threshold without shutting the steam boiler down leads to the risk of damaging the equipment from the heat could also lead to a dangerous fire or explosion.
Maintenance of Sight Glass in Steam Boilers:
Maintaining a proper water level is a requirement for seamless operation of a steam boiler. If the water level is too low, the fire tubes in the system become exposed. Without water to cool it, the metal of the tubes can overheat, warp, and crack, leading to leaks and ruptures. If the water level is too high, the boiler cannot produce enough pure steam to generate heat, reducing performance and increasing fuel use as the boiler system compensates with more flame.
The sight glass offers the function of allowing the operators to monitor the condition of the water and its level. As the water in the sight glass is the same in the steam boiler, a cloudy sight glass is the sign of contaminants in the boiler that should be addressed. Foam in the sight glass is also an indicator of water contamination. But not only the water inside requires it to be kept clear. The outside of the sight glass should be regularly cleaned to ensure that the water level and level markings are visible.
Since its formation in 1983, Rakhoh Boilers strives to enhance and improve the safety of the boiler operations by manufacturing and installing steam boilers of the highest quality to ensure the safety of the process plants and prevent any fatal accidents or injuries to the staff working and operating the plant.
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