Boilermakers assemble, install, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases.
Boilermakers typically do the following:
Use blueprints to determine locations, positions, or dimensions of parts
Install small premade boilers into buildings and manufacturing facilities
Lay out prefabricated parts of larger boilers before assembling them
Assemble boiler tanks, often using robotic or automatic welders
Test and inspect boiler systems for leaks or defects
Clean vats, using scrapers, wire brushes, and cleaning solvents
Replace or repair broken valves, pipes, or joints, using hand and power tools, gas torches, and welding equipment
Boilers, tanks, and vats are used in many buildings, factories, and ships. Boilers heat water or other fluids under extreme pressure to generate electric power and to provide heat. Large tanks and vats are used to process and store chemicals, oil, beer, and hundreds of other products.
Boilers are made out of steel, iron, copper, or stainless steel. Manufacturers are increasingly automating the production of boilers to improve the quality of these vessels. However, boilermakers still use many tools to assemble or repair boilers. For example, they often use hand and power tools or flame-cutting torches to align, cut, and shape pieces for a boiler. Boilermakers also may use plumb bobs, levels, wedges, and turnbuckles to align pieces accurately.
If the plate sections are very large, cranes lift the parts into place. Once boilermakers have the parts lined up, they use metalworking machinery and other tools to remove irregular edges so that the parts fit together properly. They then join the parts by bolting, welding, or riveting them together.
In addition to installing and maintaining boilers and other vessels, boilermakers help erect and repair air pollution abatement equipment, blast furnaces, water treatment plants, storage and process tanks, and smokestacks. Boilermakers also install refractory brick and other heat-resistant materials in fireboxes or pressure vessels. Some install and maintain the huge pipes used in dams to send water to and from hydroelectric power generation turbines.
Because boilers last a long time—sometimes 50 years or more—boilermakers must maintain them regularly by upgrading parts. As a result, they frequently inspect fittings, feed pumps, safety and check valves, water and pressure gauges, and boiler controls.