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Boiler Safety Bureau

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    (Updated 03/13/2017)

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Bureau Contacts

Main Office - Raleigh

Cliff Dautrich
Bureau Chief

Donald Kinney
Assistant Bureau Chief

Allison Jay
Administrative Assistant

Jo Ann Bell
Information Processing Assistant

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Boiler?
A boiler is defined as "a closed vessel in which water or other liquid is heated, steam or vapor is generated, steam is superheated, or any combination thereof, under pressure or vacuum, for use external to itself, by the direct application of energy from the combustion of fuels, from electricity or nuclear energy."

Also included are fired units for heating or vaporizing liquids other than water where these units are separate from processing systems and are complete within themselves. This definition includes water heaters that exceed 200,000 Btu/hr heat input, 200 degrees Fahrenheit at the outlet, or 120 gallons nominal water containing capacity.

North Carolina boiler and pressure vessel law:
The North Carolina General Assembly first enacted a law instituting regulation of high-pressure boilers in 1935. Since then, coverage has expanded to include low-pressure boilers and pressure vessels. In 1975 the General Assembly enacted the Uniform Boiler and Pressure Vessel Act, codified as Chapter 95, Article 7A, of the General Statutes.

What are the construction and installation requirements for my boiler?
Boilers installed after 1935 must be constructed in accordance with the (American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code:

  • Section I is for the high-pressure boilers. Additionally, ASME B31.1 is the required code for power piping installation for high-pressure boilers.
  • Section IV is for low-pressure steam and hot water heating (building heat), and hot water supply boilers.

How often do I have to have my boiler inspected?
High Pressure Boilers: Internal inspection annually and external inspection three months to nine months after internal inspection

Heating boilers/hot water supply boilers/commercial water heaters: external inspection every two years.

Who can legally inspect my boiler?
North Carolina law allows for three types of pressure vessel inspectors. They are:

  • Boiler & Pressure Vessel Inspector from the N.C. Department of Labor, Boiler Safety Bureau. NCDOL inspectors are authorized to inspect any boiler or pressure vessel subject to the Uniform Boiler & Pressure Vessel Act.
  • Special Inspector — an employee of an insurance company authorized to underwrite in this state boiler and machinery insurance. Authorized to inspect only what their company insures.
  • Owner-User Inspector — an employee of a company operating boilers or pressure vessels. The company must have an inspection program that is under the supervision of one or more engineers having qualifications satisfactory to and approved by the N.C. Commissioner of Labor.

All inspectors must:

  • Pass an examination set by the National Board of Boilers and Pressure Vessel inspectors.
  • Hold a certificate of competency issued by the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel inspectors.
  • Hold a commission issued by the North Carolina Department of Labor.

    Note: Any person who knowingly and willfully misrepresents himself as an authorized inspector in North Carolina is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. (GS 95-69.18

Why are boiler inspections necessary?
Boilers, storage tanks and other pressure equipment are potentially dangerous objects. They contain large amounts of energy while operating. The energy is released instantaneously if they fail and the results are devastating. When water changes from liquid to steam, it expands 1,600 times its original volume. In other words, one cubic foot of water instantly converts to 1,600 cubic feet of steam. A small boiler having a volume of 10 cubic feet and operating at a pressure of 100 psi (pounds per square inch) has an explosive equivalent of 2,278 grams of TNT-approximately equal to the anti-tank mine used during Desert Storm.

In order to ensure the continued safety of pressure equipment, it is inspected by qualified commissioned inspectors on a periodic basis. The purpose of the inspection is to make sure accidents do not happen. Since inspections are a snapshot in time and can only tell how safe the vessel is at the time of the inspection, there is an implied duty on the owner/operator of the vessel to keep it in safe and proper working order.

What is an inspection certificate and why do I need one?
The inspection certificate is evidence that the boiler has been inspected and is safe to operate under the pressure and temperatures noted on the certificate.

North Carolina law states that no boiler or pressure vessel may be operated without a current inspection certificate. Operating without a current certificate is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Boiler owner responsibilities
Within the North Carolina Boiler Code are the owner's responsibilities for:

  • Obtaining periodic boiler inspections provided by commissioned boiler inspectors either in the employ of the North Carolina Department of Labor or in the employ of the boiler insurance company. Note: The inspector is not responsible for scheduling inspections. It is the owner's responsibility to ensure that a current Certificate of Inspection is in force.
  • Paying the required fees for the Certificate of Inspections.
  • Posting the current and valid Certificate of Inspection under a transparent cover in the boiler room.
  • Obtaining proper repairs and involving the commissioned inspector in all repairs.
  • Notifying the Boiler Safety Bureau in the event of an accident.

What do I do about repairs to my boiler?
The boiler rules state that a repair company must be authorized to perform repairs by the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors and hold an "R" stamp.

In all cases, the owner and the repair company must consult an inspector before the repair is attempted and the completed repair is subject to the inspector's acceptance.

What do I do in the event of an accident?
The rules state that the owner must notify the Boiler Safety Bureau by submitting a detailed report of the accident. In the event of personnel injury or any explosion, notice shall be given immediately by telephone, telegraph or messenger, and neither the boiler, nor any parts shall be removed or disturbed before permission has been given by the Chief Inspector, except for the purpose of saving human life and limiting consequential damage.

Is there a fee for the inspection?
The Boiler Safety Bureau is fee-funded and does not receive any money from the legislature. Therefore, the Bureau charges a fee for its services. The fee is dependent upon the complexity of work and the time spent inspecting the object. The fees cover the inspection activity, the maintenance of a data storage system and the issuance of the inspection certificate.

How do I contact the boiler safety bureau if I have more questions? Where can I get a copy of the law and the rules?
The Boiler Safety Bureau is open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday except for legal holidays. Copies of the law and the rules are available at a moderate fee or online. The Chief Inspector and Bureau staff are eager to help you maintain your compliance with the law and to be of service to you. Our telephone number is (919) 807-2760.

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