Each year hundreds of accidents are reported throughout our country that involves steam Boilers. Most of these accidents are due to low-water cutoff malfunctions. Properly functioning safety devices are very important for the safe operation of any type of boiler. This is especially true in the home systems in which we use. In order to know that each piece of equipment that controls our systems regular maintenance is required. This is even more important when it comes to the safety valves, gauges and other parts of the system that are include for the safe operation of a boiler.
In order to prevent a heating boiler explosion due to water loss, the low water cutoff is designed to shut off unsafe heating equipment by turning off electrical power to the oil or gas burner. This will occur when the water level or pressure in the heating system begins to fall below a safe level. This is one of the nesseccary precautions that should be taken with any type of boiler system. The LWCO (low water cutoff) safety device contains a mechanical or electronic sensor that will monitor the water level in the boiler. LWCO’s are installed on many modern residential heater boilers.
Original LWCO’s were mounted on the face of the boiler and used a mechanical float which operated on the same principle as a float arm in the tank of a toilet. As the water levels drops the arm moves down and eventually if it travels down far enough it will trip an electrical switch that will turn the heating system off. You will need to check the float mechanism on a regular basis and clean the sludge buildup from around the float and float arm to keep it working freely.
Newer electronic LWCO controls have replaced the mechanical controls. This control is a type of sensor that is more accurate and it does away with the mechanical control mechanism. By monitoring the water level in the boiler system the LWCO and cutting off the oil, gas, or electrical heat source to the system when the water level falls below a safe level will prevent damage to the boiler. Not only will it prevent damage to the boiler it will also protect your home from possible damage as well.
Be sure to check your system to be sure that a low water cutoff is
installed. It is crucial to your safety that one is installed. Low boiler water
level can lead to very costly damage. Ask your heating technician to install
one if there is none present. Remember if there is one present regular
maintenance will need to be performed to keep the LWCO in complete working
order. Now is a great time of the year to have your system inspected and to make
sure that your system is up to code. Not only will it keep you safe it will
also help you to save money by cutting your heating fuel costs.