Autumn in Ireland, 2012: Grand Canal, Dublin Ireland

Leaves are changing color, evenings are getting cooler and fall is just around the corner. As we enter the building heating season, now is a good time to “tune-up” your fuel fired boilers to ensure they are operating at peak efficiency this winter.

A boiler tune-up is the process of measuring the combustion efficiency of the boiler and, if required, adjusting the fuel/air ratio to optimize efficiency. The instrument used to measure combustion efficiency is called a Combustion Analyzer. This diagnostic tool measures the chemical composition of the flue gases and calculates combustion efficiency based on the fuel type and the entering and leaving combustion air temperatures. Combustion efficiency readings are compared to manufacturer specifications and adjustments are made to the fuel/air ratio as required. It is important to measure combustion efficiency across the entire range of boiler operation. For example, if a boiler is over-sized and rarely operates at peak capacity then you would want to optimize combustion efficiency at part-load firing conditions. In addition to the boiler tune up, Fall is also a great time to complete your boiler preventative maintenance tasks before we get into the full heating season.


The Bacharach PCA3 is a commercial grade hand-held combustion and emmissions analyzer designed for on-dedmand sampling of light industrial, institutional commercial, and residential furnaces, appliances, and boilers. The PCA3 can measure up to four gasses simultaneously so it is the perfect tool for building operators, boiler contractors and service technicians who need to determine combustion efficiency, excess air, stack gas O2 and CO levels, stack temperature, draft, and differential pressure. Combustion efficiency calculations can be conducted for a variety of fuel types.

Advanced data storage and communication features allow the operator to store up to 500 individual combustion test records which can later be recalled for viewing, printing, or download to a personal computer. The AC power adapter allows the analyzer to run for extended periods of time while data logging.

Want to learn more about operating your building at peak efficiency? Sign up for a BOC course or webinar today.

This article was written by NEEC Senior Project Manager and Tool Lending Library Manager, Duane Lewellen.

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