Where most people will be aware that a laundry will have a steam boiler on site, do we always know exactly how it is used?

Good quality steam is at the heart of a successful laundry operation and will enable optimum production and cost-effective operations. As heating water is perhaps the single largest energy cost in a laundry the importance of good water treatment practices cannot be overstated.

The most apparent use for use for steam would be the heating of water within a laundry. This water can be used within the washing machines. Steam can also be used in the drying of the recently laundered goods. Steam drying can be used as an alternative to hot air as it can be more effective in the removal of creases in various types of fabric and can also help the final product smell better.

Steam is also an ideal choice for cleaning and sterilizing large quantities of fabric items quickly. The steam facilitates the removal of stains and elimination of contaminants, as well as fuctioning as an activator for some laundry chemicals, such as bleach.

After drying the fabric will then typically be ironed and pressed, again processes which can require the use of steam to complete the laundering process.

Steam is an extremely efficient carrier of heat. This steam is produced in the boiler and carried to the laundry equipment by a pipework distribution system. At the process it gives up heat and condenses, with this condensate then being returned to the feed water system.

By maintaining the system water in line with BG04 you will minimise the possibility of scaling and corrosion around the steam and condensate system. Without correct treatment gases within the water such as carbon dioxide and oxygen can cause severe corrosion within steam/condensate pipework and boilers.

Steam can also become contaminated by carryover, a process by which water from the boiler is carried over with the steam, usually caused by high levels of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in the boiler, excessive water treatment chemicals, contamination of boiler water from other areas of the process, and high alkalinity – most relating to poor control of the water treatment.

The corrosion products can then precipitate which will form deposits that can contaminate steam supplies in any area where steam may be used – and the carried over water from the boiler systems in a commercial laundry setting can cause stains and damage to the products therefore the control of carryover is critical. So, to keep your laundry clean and system operating efficiently maintain your boiler water system in line with BG04 and manufacturers guidelines!