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Low Pressure Steam Boiler - Process Equipment or Building Mechanical Equipment

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I am having quite a go-around with my local building official over my low pressure steam boiler.  They outsource plan check (small city without much brain power) and the plan-check engineer is treating it like a building HVAC system boiler and requiring complete wet-signed mechanical, plumbing and electrical engineering plans.  The boiler is completely UL and ASME certified.  The installing contractor is completely C4 certified with a clean contractor license.   I get quotes for about $15k just for this engineering with all the mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers telling me that I need to educate them on what is needed... how this equipment must be installed and used... because they don't have a clue and this type of thing is out of their typical scope of work.   The installing company does not have an engineer on staff to take care of this, and they tell me that every manufacturing client they work with gets their boiler treated as a piece of process equipment (like a mash tun and still) and the building and mechanical code only needs to concern itself with the utility connections and anchoring.   I am putting up a fight spending $15k for just checking a box for compliance outside the scope of what a building code covers. 

When I review the ICC International Mechanical Code for steam boilers, it does not differentiate between a building system and a piece of process equipment.   However, I think both the plan checker and the city building official are way out of their pay-grade in what they are thinking they need.  For example, they want a design of all steam-related process connections and claim they need to inspect them and approve them.  The biggest problem is this demand for wet-signed engineering.   I have provided them CAD plans of the general layout of the tank room and noted all the connections.  Also have all the calculations and specs for gas, electrical and water connections.   I think they just need to make sure the gas, water, electrical, stack and anchoring are all to code and and are of sufficient capacity based on the boiler manufacture's specs for the model.

This is a 1.2MBtu low pressure steam boiler.   Not that big of a beast.

Does anyone have any similar experience making a case with the local building official that the steam boiler is process equipment like a still and they need to back down a bit? 

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I do not know of a case for differentiation of the equipment as you have described. We are living in an age where localities and all governments in fact have gotten out of hand, and are getting more so as time goes on.

What I might suggest is to get your entire steam and condensate piping schematic drawn up and have a Steam System Engineer sign off on it, and possibly ask your local troublemakers if they will accept this before hand. The other thing is we are also in an age where expertise on these type of systems is disappearing except in larger industrial applications where it still has to be present. This unforunately makes this kind of install double dangerous. As an example, I am likely the only one in this town that has any working knowedge or experience with running Steam Boilers. NONE of the HVACR or Local Plumbing Mechanical outfits are learned and they avoid dealing with it. The ones that are hacking on hydronic systems are dangerous. Spirax Sarco may have some resources for you if you make contact with them. Everything is stacked against the small operator across the board. Not just in this trade. Also if you get on some of the online Engineering Forums, you may be able to find an old school Engineer who can help you. If you are anywhere near Utah, you can visit our operation if you are interested in particulars.

There is a wide variance of safety margins out in the real world. I have visited a larger scale running Distillery that was an Engineering nightmare. We attempted to make this small one as safe as possible.

Boiler 92717 004.JPG

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Thanks starcat.   I have found some interesting reads on the difference between industrial process equipment and what falls under the jurisdiction of the local building official as per the ICC International Building Codes.  Other than electrical, gas and water plumbing the conflict appears to be with the mechanical engineering application.  

For specific industrial process equipment, for which I make the argument that a distillery low pressure steam boiler belongs, there are often standards where the owner of the business is the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) as the owner is the liable and responsible party that is supposed to know how the equipment will be used and hence how the equipment should be installed within the scope of the manufacturer installation specifications.  Most of the building code mechanical engineering, if not all, seems to apply to the standard building and premise mechanical systems... not specific industrial manufacturing equipment.  

However, I don't have a problem with my local building official requiring a permit and plan check review for my steam boiler.... my problem is that they are requiring engineering-approve plans.

Using this example they could make the case that they need the same for almost every other piece of equipment.   For example, do they need a signed engineering plan for my air compressor and all the pneumatic lines and connections?  Do they need a signed engineering plan for all my stills, mash tuns, hot liquor tanks, etc?  I am the only non-engineer that understands the engineering design for these things.

They are stuck on part of the code that says a "design-build contractor" can sign the plans instead of an engineer.  I have a GC, but I did the design so they are saying that won't work.  The GC does not do design.  Nobody knows how to design the system better than me since it is my distillery.

I have a meeting with them in the morning so we will see where this goes. 

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Good luck, P29.

I am taking on a new line of Boilers out of Nashville that will start up their boilers with factory techs, and are used to breweries and distilleries.

What they don't do is installs because of local coding. This is what will trip you up as you know.

Maybe the boiler manufacturer you have selected can offer suggestions?


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