In one form or another, boilers have been around for centuries, and with them, safety concerns. In the early 20th century, steam boiler explosions in North America happened frequently, prompting the first legislation dealing with the design and construction of steam boilers.1 Today, boilers are equipped with important safety features and are strictly regulated, but unfortunately, accidents can still happen.
Every step of the lifecycle of a boiler or pressure vessel (BPV) can introduce risks if not carried out properly, from design and manufacturing, to installation and operation, to maintenance and decommissioning. While all areas are important to help BPV owners avoid serious problems and breakdowns, one area we find many owners need more awareness about—and where insurance companies can help—is first-time installation and periodic inspections.
What do companies need to know, or brush up on? Let’s take a look at the regulatory requirements in Ontario and Québec, as well as steps organizations can take to help mitigate risk.
Call the professionals: Proper installation of boilers and pressure vessels by experienced professionals is critical. An engineer or other expert can help you develop a plan and choose the equipment that’s right for your operations and that it is designed to code in your jurisdiction, while a licensed contractor should be enlisted for installation. Make sure you confirm and document the work that is being done.
Know the law: In Ontario, if a boiler or pressure vessel falls under provincial regulations, the onus is on the owner to have it inspected before being put into operation. At the owner’s request, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) will conduct an installation inspection of the equipment. If successfully completed, TSSA will issue a Certificate of Inspection, and the equipment is then subject to periodic inspection by the company’s insurer or TSSA. This may take place every one, two, or three years, depending on the type of boiler or pressure vessel.2
See: Ontario Equipment Breakdown Boiler and Pressure Vessel Checklist
In Québec, if a boiler or pressure vessel falls under the regulations, the company is responsible for having it approved by the Régie du Bâtiment du Québec (RBQ) before it’s put into service. Following that, the equipment must be inspected every one to four years (depending on the type of equipment) by a person or body recognized by the RBQ, which issues a periodic inspection certificate.3
See: Quebec Equipment Breakdown Boiler and Pressure Vessel Checklist
Check for exemptions: Not all types of boilers and pressure vessels fall under provincial regulations and require an installation inspection. In Ontario, for example, the exemptions include: low-pressure steel boilers with 30 ft2 (2.79 m2) or less of wetted heating surface; hot water tanks, hydropneumatic tanks, and cushion tanks 24 in (610 mm) diameter or less; among others.4 In Québec, the exemption are mentioned at the article 3 of the Regulation respecting pressure installations (B-1.1,r.6.1).
Your contractor should know if the unit requires an installation inspection. However, some popular boiler designs today have a small square footage. Based on sight, they appear to be exempt from the regulations, but they may not be. Make sure your contractor understands the exemptions and checks the precise measurements and/or specifications of your boiler or pressure vessel.
See: Why do you need a jurisdictional inspection?
Follow servicing and repair requirements: What also tends to be lesser known among companies is the frequency associated with servicing and/or replacing safety valves, as per the regulations. Ontario typically requires servicing every five to 10 years (some could be every 3 years), depending on the device. For example, power boilers (steam operating above 103 kPa or 15 psi and hot water operating above 1103 kPA or 121°C) require a five-year maximum servicing interval for safety relief valves, as well as annual system pressure or annual lift tests.5 Repairs to a boiler or pressure vessel requiring welding must be done to retain its integrity and per the Code of construction. The repair must be inspected and accepted by your insurer’s inspector (Ontario) or the RBQ (Québec). Your qualified repair contractor should be aware of when an inspection is needed and will ask you to contact your insurer to arrange an inspection.
While there are many things to consider with regards to BPV installations and inspections, it all boils down to safety. Staying on top of the risks and regulations will help give you peace of mind that your equipment is working safely and efficiently, and help keep your business running smoothly.
1 CEP, “Keeping Boilers Safe,” June 17, 2021
2 TSSA, “Inspections,” https://www.tssa.org/en/boilers-pressure-vessels/inspections.aspx
3 Publications Québec, “Regulation respecting pressure installations, Building Act”
4,5 TSSA, Boilers and Pressure Vessels Safety Program, Code Adoption Document Amendment, Dec. 1, 2020