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Boiler Programming Controls

Learning Outcome
When you complete this module you will be able to:
Describe the operation of programming controls and discuss the proper testing
and maintenance procedures.

Learning Objectives
Here is what you will be able to do when you complete each objective:
1. Describe the operation of equipment that is used to automatically start-up and
shut-down boilers.
2. Interpret operating sequence bar graphs and provide a typical sequence of
start-up and shut-down events.
3. Apply a boiler start-up and shut-down programmer troubleshooting guide.

INST 6002

BE_6_0_1. especially those used in building heating systems. fuel pressure. Thus. BE_6_0_3.jpg P PROGRAMMING CONTROLS Boilers.and oilfired heating boilers with either natural or forced draft. is illustrated in Fig. The start-up programmer is the device that coordinates these checks and the ignition sequence. equipped with interrupted pilots or with direct spark ignition. In on-off and multi-range control the fuel and air for combustion are either flowing at full rate (or in multi-range at one of several set rates. require controls that will provide proper order of operation. each time the boiler starts up. Figure 1 Programming Control 2 INST 6002 . On-off control is common in small packaged boilers. it has to go through the standard checks associated with a safe start-up procedure. during start-up or shutdown. or sequencing of combustion controls. medium or high) or completely shut off. Such a control system must also insure that proper operating conditions..INTRODUCTION Boiler combustion control is of two types: on-off (or multi-range) and modulating. such as water level. 1. etc. exist for safe boiler operation. such as low.jpg P Programmed Start-Up of Boilers with Natural Draft A common type of controller or programming relay system used on gas.

pilot. 3 INST 6002 . At this time. 2. The main gas valve opens and the burner is ignited by the pilot flame. fuel oil shut-off valve. if an interrupted pilot is used. The load relay of the programming control closes its electrical contacts and energizes the ignition transformer and pilot gas valve to light the pilot flame. When the main flame is established by the pilot flame. The programming control system is now ready to be started again when the boiler steam pressure or water temperature drops to the lower desired value. the operation of this control system is as follows: 1. or if the pilot does go on. and main gas valve so the start-up sequence will be stopped until the operator resets the control by pushing the reset button. Some control systems may permit a second attempt to light the pilot and main burner after a false start before the control has to be reset. When the pilot flame is established. The programming control will keep the main burner in operation until the desired preset operating steam pressure or water temperature is reached. the flame detector senses the flame and causes the programming control to close the electrical circuit to the main gas valve. 5. 4. This energizes the ignition transformer. The operating control may be similar to the on-off controller with a glass tube mercury switch described in a previous module. The load relay of the programming control will close its electrical contacts. the ignition transformer and pilot gas valve are de-energized and closed. the operating control will open the switch causing the load and flame relay of the programming control to also open and close the main fuel valve. The operating control initiates a start-up and closes the switch. Programmed Start-Up of Oil-Fired Boiler With No Pilot 1. Sometimes during start-up. a lockout switch will be energized after a short trial period of 15 to 30 seconds from the time of start-up.When used on gas-fired boilers with natural draft. The operating control will close a switch when the boiler pressure or water temperature drops to a preset desired value. This switch will open the electrical circuit to the ignitor. The control must also be reset if the main burner should fail. the gas burner may fail to ignite. and motor driving the air fan or blower and fuel pump. 2. 3. In either case. the pilot burner may fail to ignite.

jpg P 2. In case of ignition failure during boiler start-up or main burner failure during operation. It monitors both the pilot and main flames. The programming control also includes safety features related to boiler start-up. It also de-energizes the electrical circuit to the fuel valve within 1 to 4 seconds upon loss of flame. If any part of the starting sequence is not properly completed. The purpose of purging is to remove any combustible gases that may have collected in the furnace while the burner is not in operation. and control system in a proper sequence. It programs the operation of the forced draft fan or blower. is very similar. BE_6_0_5. Purging a furnace means forcing a flow of air through a furnace for a set period of time when the burner is not in operation. This control serves two primary functions: 1. however. The ignition transformer is then de-energized. ignition system. The spark from the ignition transformer ignites the main burner. fuel valves. This includes a suitable purge period before ignition and after burner shut down. and operating controls may be used. 4. 4 INST 6002 .jpg P A fully automatic packaged firetube heating boiler has a highly sophisticated programming control which includes one or more timers and several relays. especially in the timing of the programming sequence as different types of burners. the control will lock out. and does not allow the electrical circuit to the main fuel valve to be energized unless the pilot flame has been established and proven. The flame detector (photocell) senses the flame and causes the flame relay to close. The operator must correct the problem and reset the control before the ignition sequence can start again. Programming controls used on packaged firetube boilers will vary in their operation. Programmed Control Sequence of Automatic Boilers BE_6_0_2. 5.3. The principle of operation for each of these controls. and which could cause a furnace explosion when the pilot is lit again. methods of ignition. it terminates the start-up sequence and purges the furnace.

2 is necessary in order to understand the general operating principles of a programming control system. A careful study of the electrical diagram of a burner circuit shown in Fig. Figure 2 Basic Packaged Boiler Control Circuit This diagram shows how the various components of the combustion equipment for a gas-fired boiler are controlled by the programmer. Any person who requires specific information about a particular boiler should consult the manufacturer’s operations manual supplied with the boiler. the following points should be observed: 1.Since it is impossible to give a detailed description of the operation of every type of programming control used on heating boilers. Before describing the actual operation. The timer motor operates the “T” switches by means of cams located on its shaft. 5 INST 6002 . The operation of the timer motor is controlled by the master relay through contacts A and B. 2. only a general description of operation of a typical programming control will be described.

All manually operated valves in the fuel lines to the pilot and main burner must also be open. 4. 6 INST 6002 . The switch for the high limit control (3) will also be closed. the fuel supply pressure to the burner valves must be above the cutout point of the low gas pressure cutoff (4) so this switch can be closed. Power is supplied to the master relay and switches T2. (d) The main power switch or breaker must be closed so the electronic circuit in the programming control panel is energized. If the boiler is oil-fired. 1. and power is available to the motor starting relays. The flame failure relay in the control circuit of the main fuel valve is closed only when the scanner sights the flame of either the pilot or the main burner. the operating control (2) will start the firing sequence when the pressure drops to the minimum desired value. the fuel lines and oil pump must be properly primed to assure uninterrupted fuel supply to the burner control valve(s). Either the starting switch (1) or the operating control (2) is open depending on whether the boiler is started manually or automatically.3. Once the manual switch (1) is closed on initial boiler start up after maintenance. Manually operated valves in these lines must also be open. and T4 only when all the limit switches are closed. (c) If the boiler is gas-fired. Start-Up Conditions Before a steam or hot water boiler can be started by a programming control.. T3. inspection. All the operating and limit switches (1-6) are placed in series. etc. (b) The steam pressure or water temperature must be at or below the cut-in setting of the operating control so its switch (2) is closed. the following conditions must be fulfilled: (a) The water in the boiler drum must be above the cutoff point of the low-water fuel cutoff (or two cutoffs if two are required as shown in the diagram) so its switch is closed (5 and 6 in the diagram).

closes the A contacts. the power to the timing motor is shut off. Since the circuit that is connected to T5 is open.2. The cam on the timer motor shaft closes switch T1 immediately to start the fan motor. This energizes the master relay which opens its B contacts and. 7 INST 6002 . When the air flow to the burner is established. the timer closes switch T2. Start-Up Sequence (a) Boiler ignition sequence is initiated when the starting switch or operating control is closed. (d) The flame detector will sense the pilot flame immediately and its signal is amplified by the electronic circuit to close the flame failure relay. the timer opens switches T2 and T3 to open the electrical circuit to the ignitor and pilot gas valve. and the timer motor stops. This closes the electrical circuit to the solenoid of the main gas valve so the main gas valve opens and the main burner is lit by the pilot flame. This energizes the timer motor through switch T5. (b) Air is now blown through the furnace to purge it of any combustible gases which may have collected there. which energizes the ignition transformer and causes the ignitor to start sparking. (g) The timer then changes switch T5 to the B circuit of the master relay. the low air pressure switch is closed. (c) When the purge period is completed. The sparking of the ignitor lights the pilot flame. at the same time. (f) After the main flame is established. The flame detector or scanner is now supervising the main burner flame only. (e) After allowing a short period of time for the pilot flame to be established. NOTE: This programming sequence can also be applied to an oil-fired boiler equipped with a pilot except that the pilot is usually kept lit during the “on” period of the boiler. Switch T3 is also closed at this time to energize the solenoid. which will open the pilot gas valve. the timer closes switch T4.

single nozzle burner. When the steam pressure or hot water temperature drops back again to the cut-in point of the operating control. The chart following the bar graph describes the events in the starting sequence. 3) to de-energize the solenoid of the burner fuel valve. The burner valve will close and extinguish the flame. At the same time the timer moves T5 back to the A circuit. Shutdown Sequence (a) When the steam pressure or hot water temperature rises to the cutout point of the pressure or temperature operating control such as a glass tube mercury switch. the power supply to the timer motor is re-established and the timer starts again. Once the power supply to the boiler has been established and the starting switch has been closed. Since the master relay is de-energized and the A contacts are open. (b) Since the flame scanner no longer senses the flame. there are variations in the operating sequence of programming controllers and the timing of the various steps in each sequence. the power supply to the timer motor is interrupted and it stops. the operation of the boiler becomes fully automatic. This will open the electrical circuit (number 2 in Fig. the control switch will close again. As a result. known as the post purge. the electronic circuit is broken and the flame failure relay is opened. Since switch T5 is closed in the B circuit. contacts A open and contacts B are closed. and direct spark ignition. 3 shows an operating sequence of a programming control for an oil-fired boiler with on-off operating control. These variations are most easily shown with the aid of bar graphs. It is assumed that all conditions for start-up as described above have been met. OPERATING SEQUENCE BAR GRAPHS As mentioned earlier. each with different burners and operating controls. Oil-Fired Boiler The bar graph in Fig. This energizes the master relay to start the timer. (c) The opening of the pressure or temperature control switch also de-energizes the master relay.3. the on-off controller opens its switch. The timer opens switch T4 in the electrical circuit to the main fuel valve. (d) After a short period of time. 8 INST 6002 . and the start-up sequence will be carried out again. the timer will open switch T1 and shut off the fan. Below follow examples of the application of a programming control for two boilers.

Figure 3 Bar Graph for Fire-Eye Programming Control Time Seconds Dial Indication 0 0 Starting switch or operating control switch closes. During this period the flame sensor must have picked up sight of flame and flame relay must have pulled in. Start of purge period. 44 A End of ignition trial period. it will stay on during entire firing period. 47 2 No action with direct spark ignition. Start of ignition trial period. Fan motor starts. Fuel valve opens. Start-up 9 INST 6002 . 10 - Timer stops if flame relay is not in open position. 37 1 End of purge period. Ignition transformer energized. master relay energized. When intermittent spark is used. Timer starts. 30 - Timer stops if fuel pressure switch is not closed. 8 - Low air flow cut-out switch must be closed otherwise ignition will not take place and timer will recycle to start position. igniter starts sparking. 57 3 Ignition off when interrupted spark is used. otherwise fuel valve closes and safety lock-out switch is energized. Lock-out switch is then energized.

60 DOT Operating control switch opens or starting switch on panel is moved to “off”.60 DOT End of start-up A 10 INST 6002 . timer stops. Fuel valve closes. Scanner loses sight of flame. or when the power fails. 4 shows an operating sequence of a programming control for a gas-fired boiler with modulating control and pilot ignition. Beginning of normal firing period. Timer restarts. it will not be able to start a new cycle until the heater of the lock-out switch has cooled down and the switch has been manually reset by pushing the button. Burner and blower remain in operation until heat demand is satisfied and operating control reaches its cut-out point. Each time the operating control or a limit switch such as the low water fuel cutoff opens and shuts down the boiler. The timer will return to its starting position (0 on dial). Gas-Fired Boiler The bar graph in Fig. the lock-out switch is energized and actuates an alarm (light. Master relay de-energized. BE_6_0_4. Blower motor stops. bell or horn). Timer stops. The system is now ready again for a restart whenever operating control reaches its cut-in point. however. In these cases the lock-out switch will not be actuated. The same procedure takes place when the flame fails during normal operation. Start of after-purge period. The chart that follows describes the events in the sequence. the boiler will automatically start up again when the switch closes or power has been restored. flame relay opens switch. 75 0 End of after-purge period. When the burner fails to ignite during the ignition trial period.

55 2 Main gas valve energized. Programmer takes command of damper motor. damper set in high fire position. 20 - Damper placed in low fire position for purge at reduced flow. Ignition energized. Timer starts. flame relay closes.Figure 4 Bar Graph for Programming Control Time Seconds Timer Indicator 0 0 Starting switch closed. Start of trial period. Low fire switch must close otherwise ignition cannot take place. Start-up 11 INST 6002 . 45 1 End of purge period. Pilot gas valve opens. Blower (fan) starts. Start of purging period at maximum air flow. Operating control in cut-in position. 7 - Low air flow switch must be closed. main burner lights. 27-40 - Flame relay switch must be open otherwise timer stops and lock-out switch is energized. When scanner sights pilot flame. Start of main burner ignition trial period. Master relay energized.

Programmer takes control of modulating motor and holds it in low fire position. End of after purge period. it will not start again until the lock-out relay has been manually reset. actuating an alarm (light. 3 and 4 are only examples of the many control sequences possible. NOTE: Should the pilot fail to ignite during its trial period. with the result that the scanner will not detect a flame. Burner and blower remain in operation until heat demand is satisfied and operating control reaches its cutout point. Should the main burner fail to ignite during its trial period. or they are placed on the demand setting of the firing rate selector switch if boiler is on manual control. or after a power failure. Timer motor stops. However. Master relay and fuel valve de-energized. The programmer releases control of damper motor. Timer restarts. 105 DOT End of starting cycle. The system is now ready for start-up whenever the operating control closes again. then the pilot and ignition will be shut off and the main fuel valve will not be energized. 0 DOT 15 0 Shutdown Operating control opens. Timer stops. Scanner loses sight of flame. Only after the lock-out switch has been manually reset. 12 INST 6002 . the boiler starts up automatically again when the switch closes or power has been restored. should the boiler shut down due to a flame failure. the fuel valve will close again. flame relay opens. Beginning of normal firing period. will the timer be able to start up again. bell or horn) and prevent the timer from starting a new cycle. The timing of many other sequences varies considerably from those described above. Damper and fuel valve are now placed in high fire position by the modulating operating control if boiler is on automatic control.70 3 Pilot valve and ignition de-energized. Each time the operating control or a limit switch such as the low water cut-off switch or the fuel pressure switch opens and shuts down the boiler. Start of after-purge period at low air flow. Blower stops. In both cases the timer will complete its full cycle during which time a lock-out switch will trip. It should be pointed out again that the starting sequences shown in Figs.

Limit control circuit not completed. Follow a routine in order not to overlook an obvious cause of trouble. . . . Main disconnect switch open. . . Methods of correcting the trouble can usually be found in the boiler manual or the accompanying equipment bulletins.Check manual reset button. tripped overloads.Close switch. A good knowledge of the control system will make trouble shooting much easier. on low water fuel cut-off.Check for power on power supply terminals on programming control. check for power on solenoid circuit of motor starter. Combustion control safety lock-out switch tripped.Boiler pressure or temperature above cut-in setting of operating control. Costly downtime or delays can be prevented by systematic checks of the actual operation against the normal sequence to determine at what point the operation strays from normal. 3. if provided. loose electrical connections.Water below required level. if provided. 2. . The points under each heading are stated as briefly as possible to simplify locating the source of trouble. . It is further assumed that the operator is thoroughly familiar with the firing equipment and controls as well as the manual for the boiler.Reset safety lock-out switch.Refer to manufacturer’s manual. . It is assumed that the boiler has been properly installed and adjusted and that it has been in operation for some time prior to the trouble listed below. should indicate this condition. .TROUBLE SHOOTING GUIDE (Automatically Fired Boilers) On the following pages some general guide lines are given to find the cause of the trouble that may occur during start-up and operation of automatically fired heating boilers. 4. 13 INST 6002 . Blown fuses.If master relay pulls in and timer starts but blower motor does not start. TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE (Automatically Fired Boilers) COMPLAINT: Blower Does Not Start POSSIBLE CAUSE REMEDY 1.Low water indicating light.

Blower starts but stops again after 5 to 10 seconds. empty fuel tank. Motor defective.Check oil nozzles. . . Insufficient pilot or low-fire flame.Place timer switch to the run position. - Electrodes grounded or porcelain cracked. defective switch. POSSIBLE CAUSE REMEDY 1. 3. 2. Loose terminal on ignition cable. Improper electrode setting. Supply to main nozzles restricted or cut off. closed valve. No Main Flame. . . contacts. .If flame relay pulls in but fuel valve is not energized. incorrect pilot gas pressure. 2.If flame relay does not pull in when pilot flame lights. . 6. Low fire switch open. 14 INST 6002 . clogged oil filter. . sight tube obstructed or detector lens dirty.Inoperative solenoid on pilot or low-fire fuel valve. 3.Replace motor. check flame detector. (See manual). amplifier. check for voltage at test jacks of programmer. .Damper motor not operative. Inoperative programmer. .Check the low air pressure switch. Spark but no flame.Check for obstruction.Flame detector defective. . cable shorted.Lack of fuel due to closed manual valves. . Check appropriate program relay contacts. Timer switch in test position and timer stopped in prepurge. Inoperative ignition transformer.5. COMPLAINT: Pilot or Low-Fire Flame. . 4. . . COMPLAINT: No Ignition POSSIBLE CAUSE REMEDY 1.Damper jammed or linkage binding.Inoperative solenoid valve.Adjust pilot or low-fire flame. slipped cam. Lack of spark.

Loss or stoppage of fuel.Check blower motor and all interlocks. 5. setscrews. 4. loose electrical connections.Replace modulating control. If the lock-out switch has tripped.Check fuel lines and valves. 3. . . 2. COMPLAINT: Shutdown Occurs During Firing POSSIBLE CAUSE REMEDY 1. .Visually check appropriate timer and relay contacts (refer to program control manual).Check flame detector. interlock. cams. Defective fuel valve. . 2. Inoperative damper motor. . Damper positioning switch in wrong position. .Check motor for cause and replace if necessary. . .The light will not be energized by the opening of any control in the limit circuit. Flame detector weak or defective. Lens dirty or sight tube obstructed. . . . 6. or open control in the non-recycling interlock circuit.Repair linkages.Clean lens or sensing tube. . check the limit circuit controls. or blower motor. Boiler pressure above high-low fire control setting. 15 INST 6002 .COMPLAINT: Burner Stays On Low-Fire POSSIBLE CAUSE REMEDY 1. . Defective high-low fire or modulating control. Binding or loose linkage.Change detector. . 5.Lock-out switch malfunctioning . inadequate flame signal. . 4. 3. If the programmer lock-out switch has not tripped.Stuck contacts.Repair or replace fuel valve.Check damper linkage. .The flame failure light is energized by ignition failure. etc.Check fuel system for reason.Wait till pressure drops to where there is a load demand.

8.Temporary obstruction in fuel line. . Improper air-fuel ratio.Replace or repair interlock. COMPLAINT: Damper Motor Does Not Operate POSSIBLE CAUSE REMEDY 1.High-low fire or modulating control improperly set or inoperative. . Linkage loose or jammed. . .Repair linkage 3. Motor does not drive to “open” or “close” during prepurge or close on burner shutdown.Fluctuating fuel supply. . 16 INST 6002 .Check appropriate contacts (See manual). .Damper positioning switch in wrong position.POSSIBLE CAUSE REMEDY 7. Motor does not operate on demand. . Damper positioning switch in wrong position. .Damper stuck open. .Slipping linkage.Place switch in correct position. . Interlock device inoperative or defective. 2. . 4.Pressure reducing valve in gas line defective.