Keeping aluminum melting furnaces at peak operating efficiency is vital. It extends the life of the furnace and minimizes any downtime that comes with minor or major repairs.
Moreover, it lets you catch small problems before they become major (expensive) disasters. No matter the type of metal processing, unplanned downtime can be devastating to a business. It is much easier to plan around scheduled preventative maintenance.
Your aluminum furnace refractory can experience extensive deterioration due to dross buildup on the refractory and penetration into the refractory. This build-up requires daily cleaning, frequent repairs, and eventually relining your entire furnace.
The furnace walls, floors, and doors must be scraped frequently to remove any aluminum-oxide dross buildup. That buildup can occur when air comes into contact with molten aluminum.
However, the tenacity of dross requires an extremely aggressive cleaning process which often removes part of the refractory.
If you let aluminum oxide penetrate the refractory and build-up on the walls of the furnace, it will gradually reduce the furnace capacity. Not only will that affect the efficiency of the furnace, but it can even deform the walls to the point where major repairs are needed.
In areas where build-up is extremely bad, the insulating properties of the refractory are reduced. In turn, this reduces the heat retention in the melt bath and makes the furnace work harder to hold a batch of metal at a given temperature.
If you let these problems persist and are not committed to preventative maintenance, you will eventually need a complete furnace reline which could put the furnace out of commission.
In order to adhere to the best preventative maintenance guidelines, contact Schad to get help developing a preventative maintenance plan for your aluminum furnace.
There are some common practices that can help. Many furnace operators will regularly track the refractory lining in a furnace by taking measurements of the lining during planned outages. The type of refractory used and the rate of deterioration are very important to consider. It is also possible to use thermal imaging while a furnace is online to monitor refractory health.
As previously stated, refractory linings are subject to normal wear and tear as a result of the scraping action of metal on the furnace walls. In theory, refractory wear should be uniform, but that is never the case in practice.
The most intense wear typically occurs:
- At the slag/metal interface
- Where side walls join the floor
- At door jamb and sills
- Furnace wells especially ones used for charging
Special attention should be paid to these high-wear areas and observations should be accurately logged.
While aluminum melting furnaces require occasional repairs and scheduled maintenance, being diligent about your team’s preventative maintenance strategies can save you time and money. Not only will it extend the life of the furnace and keep it running efficiently for longer periods of time, but it helps you catch smaller issues before they become enormous disasters.
If you have more questions or would like to schedule a maintenance check, please contact Schad at 1 (800) 581-7885 or fill out our online form.