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What They Do

Insider Info

Keeping heat and power systems in working condition is critical. That's where boiler inspectors come in. They keep an eye on boilers, vats and other strongly constructed closed vessels that hold liquid or gas. Boilers supply steam to drive huge turbines in electric power plants and provide heat or power in buildings, factories and ships. Tanks and vats are used to process and store chemicals, oil, beer and hundreds of other products.

What does the inspector look for? They enforce safety standards, investigate safety issues, shut off unsafe installations and provide technical information to the public, owners and manufacturers.

Boilers last 35 years or longer, so inspectors check burners and tubes regularly to ensure efficiency. They inspect fittings, valves, controls and auxiliary machinery, and might clean or supervise the cleaning of boilers.

To do this, the inspector must verify safety valve capacity, code construction calculations, allowable working pressures, tensile strengths, stress values and corrosion allowances. Depending on the agency, some inspect manufacturing shops, nuclear reactors and nuclear code shops as well. All inspections must be documented by some type of report.

There are other major components of the job.

Enforcement -- analyzing information obtained from inspections and comparing it with applicable codes, laws, rules, and regulations. A boiler inspector investigates violations, accidents, explosions and complaints reported by industry people or the public to determine whether regulations and statutes have been violated.

Education and information -- answering general inquiries from the public and contractors on the requirements of boiler safety codes, laws, rules and regulations.

The job involves walking and climbing in boiler shops and other buildings, and crawling inside boilers to inspect them. The inspector might also use potentially dangerous equipment, such as acetylene torches and power grinders, handle heavy parts, and work on ladders or on top of large vessels.

At a Glance

Making boiler safety a priority

  • Enforce safety standards and investigate safety issues
  • Employers prefer high school or vocational school graduates
  • Mechanical aptitude and manual dexterity are needed


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