The boiler should be inspected frequently during construction, and when completed should be thoroughly tested. After the boiler is in position and the brickwork completed, it should be allowed to stand, if possible, for a week in order to give the brickwork a chance to dry and set. After this it may be filled to the proper level and a small fire kept burning under it for a few days. Great care should be taken at this time not to heat up the boiler and brickwork too quickly.
In starting up a new boiler, it is a good plan to put a few pounds of sal soda in the water, and then, after the brickwork is well dried and set, to let down the fire and steam, run off the water, and give the boiler a good washing out. This treatment will be found to prevent the foaming which so often occurs when a new boiler is started. This foaming is caused by the grease left in the boiler by the boiler-makers.
The fireman who has charge should at all times, before starting his fire, see that the water in the boiler is at the proper level. He should not be satisfied by merely looking at the water glass, but should open the cock at the bottom of the glass, and also try the gauge cock. Many accidents have occurred through neglect of this duty. He should also see that the blow-off cock is in order and closed, that the ash pit is clear of ashes, that the tubes are clean, and that the safety valve is raised off its seat, or that some valve or cock is open to the atmosphere until steam issues from it. The grate bars should be covered with coal from the bridge wall toward the furnace door for about 3 ft. The fireman should then put some light wood on the grate in front of the coal and with a little oily waste set fire to it. When the fire has thoroughly kindled the wood a little coal may be put on it. During this time the ash pit should be closed and the furnace door left open a little so that the flames may be communicated to the coal at the back of the furnace.
As soon as a good fire is burning in the front of the furnace, the front coals may be pushed back a little and the ash pit damper opened. The fire should not be forced, but should be allowed to work up gradually. An unequal strain through forcing the fire when the boiler is cold may cause leakage and make expensive repairs necessary. The fires should be maintained level and of a uniform thickness, but the thickness must be determined by the demand for steam, the condition of the chimney draught, and by the quality and nature of the fuel.