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    How to Maintain Your Vaporizer

    Written by Rick Gladding

    There has been a brisk market for vaporizers and large equipment this year. There has been some vaporizer maintenance issues as well. Whenever faced with a vaporizer question, I always ask the customer or service tech the same question: When was this unit serviced last? Unfortunately, I am hearing from folks that they have never serviced their unit. This holds true for both the smaller direct fired units and the larger water bath units. We can’t start this equipment up and just walk away folks!! The owner of a vaporizer must provide some yearly TLC to keep his/her unit in top operating condition. A basic yearly service on a direct fired unit of 120 GPH or less must consist of the following:

    You must open the cabinet and visually inspect the burners and heat exchanger for soot, corrosion, debris and proper burning characteristics. Pull out the vacuum if needed and clean these units. Check the pilot and thermocouple for corrosion and test it at the same time as well. If the unit has a battery relight system, change the battery. If it is a 110 volt system, check to see if it is operating. With both types of re-igniter systems blow out the pilot and see if the spark module kicks in and observe for a spark jumping from the igniter tip to the pilot. The pilot should relight before the safety magnet drops out. Now, you must go and check for heavy ends. Under the regulator you will find a drip leg. Uncap the drip leg and place a container under the open end and slowly open the valve and observe what comes out. If there is nothing you are in the clear. If, however, you get oils out, you now have to put your Sherlock Holmes hat on and go investigate to see if oil got into the temperature control.

    Disconnect the pilot tubing and see if you notice traces of oil in the lines. Same goes for the burner tubes as well. If you notice oil, it is time to replace the temperature controls, regulator and pilot assembly as well as burner tips. If all goes well, you now want to start working your way towards the back of the vaporizer. Take your pressure gauges and check the outlet pressures on the regulator and make sure it is putting out 11” WC (water column). Check your lockup pressure as well; it should be in the neighborhood of 13.2” WC. If it doesn’t pass muster, it must be replaced! Also inspect the relief valve for debris, bugs and corrosion. One manufacturer recommends replacing the relief valve every 5 years.

    Now we must give the vaporizer inlet valve and outlet valve some much needed attention. Contrary to popular belief these valves must be rebuilt every one to two years per the manufacturer’s instructions. Verify the model number of the unit and get the correct rebuild kit and get ‘er done. This simple procedure will save you in the heartache and headache dept. Plus, we don’t want to run liquid into the building if they fail. Lastly you will want to pull the inlet strainer and clean and inspect the element as well as check the heavy ends separator to see if it has done its job and captured any heavy ends. I recommend also checking the separator weekly if this is a new unit to make sure you are not producing too much oil. This will tell you how often you need to drain this during the season.

    After you have done these procedures it is now time to put the vaporizer online and watch its operation. Given a little maintenance this unit should provide years of trouble free service. My last recommendation is to take a few minutes and read the manual for the particular unit and become familiar with its operation and maintenance needs. If you need a manual for a particular unit we can provide this for your maintenance library. Stay safe and practice good service techniques.


    Salesman Rick Gladding

    Rick Gladding

    Read Rick's Bio

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