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
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
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
- 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
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
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
In order to ensure the continued safety of pressure equipment, it is
inspected by qualified commissioned inspectors on a periodic basis.
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
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
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
company. Note: The inspector is not responsible for scheduling
inspections. It is the owner's responsibility to ensure that a current
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
- 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
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
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
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
number is (919) 807-2760.