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Old 01-02-2013, 04:31 PM   #1
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


Hi everyone,

I recently moved into a new house with a Peerless [ECT-04-175-SP] Oil-Fired boiler. This boiler provides hot water for both our general water (sinks, tub, etc) and our steam radiators.

It has a Low Water Cut Off valve which, according to our oil provider, I need to blow out once a week to remove any rust or sediment build up in the pipes.

But every time I blow it out nearly a gallon of oil gets released until I get clean water. I don't think that's supposed to happen based on what I've read, but I am simply not familiar enough with these oil-based boilers to know for sure. Is there a problem with the installation?

Thanks for your help!

Sorry, I accidentally first posted this question in plumbing by Mistake....Apologies for the double post!

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Old 01-02-2013, 06:45 PM   #2
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


Oil? Shouldn't be getting oil. Oil would cause you to get wet steam and have banging of the pipes that would wake you at night.

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Old 01-02-2013, 06:57 PM   #3
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


Beenthere,

Actually, we do get banging in the pipes upstairs and a lot of swooshing sounds. It's terrible, but I thought that was a result of faulty radiator vent or something. How does oil in the low water cutoff cause banging? And what do I need to do to fix it? Do you know how the oil is getting in there?
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:48 PM   #4
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


are you sure its oil......
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:33 PM   #5
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


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Beenthere,

Actually, we do get banging in the pipes upstairs and a lot of swooshing sounds. It's terrible, but I thought that was a result of faulty radiator vent or something. How does oil in the low water cutoff cause banging? And what do I need to do to fix it? Do you know how the oil is getting in there?
Only way oil gets in a steam boiler is sloppy piping practice. Which is when they don't clean the oil off of the pipes after they thread them as they repipe the boiler.

Oil floats on top of the water and has a much higher boiling temp, which causes the water to boiler violently. Kind of like when you allow a sauce to boil.

The boiler needs to be skimmed to get the dirt and any oil that the installers might have left into it.
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:38 PM   #6
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


is this boiler new.........
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:37 PM   #7
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


Thanks for all your responses. Im positive its oil. Its black and greasy. I made the mistake of dumping it in a utility sink, and had to rinse and scrub the sink to clean off the oil.

The boiler isn't new. It's probably about 10 years old, and it used to have an in-ground oil tank feeding it. When we bought the house, the sellers installed new Roth oil tanks in the basement. I have no idea how long the low water cut off or automatic water feed was installed. Our oil provider did general cleanout a few months ago and told me he though it was in excellent condition, but I don't think he realized the low water cutoff was having this issue.

Strange thing is that our bathing water is clean. its never murky or oily so I'm not sure what's happening. Maybe I need to call in a handy man to look at it? But I was hoping to fix it myself.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:41 PM   #8
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


Don't use a handyman. You should only use a company tht knows what they're doing when working on a steam boiler.

Your boiler probably needs cleaned out. Chemical cleaners are made to clean out the boiler.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:13 PM   #9
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


I do not think that is oil. Likely iron oxide which could be caused by draining off the LWCO too often, Are you sure the boiler is a "steam" boiler or a "hot water" boiler. Is there a gauge glass to show the water level in the boiler..if not, then it is likely a hot water boiler in which case you are draining off way more water than you should..when you drain off water then the pressure regulator feed valve adds more water to make up the pressure..this adds more oxygen to the system which reacts with the iron pipes thereby creating excess iron oxide which is black ...IF you have a steam boiler you may need a chemical cleaning (caustic soda) and somesome chemical treatment to deal with the excess iron oxide or other dissolved solids. However, from your description I thiunk it is a Hot Water boiler and system. Another way of checking is to check your rads..is there one pipe or two to each rad..is there a water bleed valve at top of each rad? Is there a pressure and temperature gauge mounted on the front of the boiler OR a steam gauge mounted on TOP of the boiler.
Please let us know. BTW if it is a hot water boiler STOP blowing down the LWCO..just adds Oxygen to system..system should be kept "closed" as much as possible. Just drain down once per year MAX

Last edited by techpappy; 01-02-2013 at 11:14 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:28 PM   #10
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


Kind of thinking you need to call a boiler tech. Hopefully someone that can explain the system operation. LWCO is your safety for your system. Basically shuts off boiler when lowest permissible water level is reached. Looked over an installation model on the peerless website and they recommend a certain kind of LWCO be used that blows down (surface blow down) of foam etc. when SENSED! to prevent damage to the heat exchanger. Be nice to the guy or gal and ask questions. Visit the peerless site and find a decent boiler tech.-
Take care , Joe
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:45 AM   #11
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


Techpappy,

Yes, there is a gauge glass right next to the LWCO valve so I'm pretty sure it's steam. The gauge glass seems to get dirty pretty quickly though...I've had to remove the glass twice in 4 months already to clean it out. The water in the guage turns brownish enough where it's hard to know what the water level is, but it's not (oily) black dirt like the LWCO fluid.

I would be surprised if the LWCO fluid was Iron Oxide...it really looks like black oil.

I'll take all your advice and call a boiler tech via peerless to see what's wrong. Thanks for all your help!
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:11 AM   #12
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


Went to Peerless website and it appears you DO have a steam boiler otherwise it would not have had the LWCO installed on it. Their website states quite clearly that excessive water make up causes iron corrosion and can severely shorten the life of the boiler. Your steam system is also "closed" which, being used to production boilers where the steam is used and more water is required yours does not require OR should not require a lot of make up water and there should not be a make up feed water valve on the boiler...that said, you are blowing down too often and likely have to add water some how..this is causing the black slimy iron oxide...Just STOP blowing down your system is 100% return which means there are limited solids in the water and therefore should not accumulate in boiler or LWCO.

STOP blowing down..period..Only if you see water bouncing in guage glass or if the boiler shuts down intermittently due to low water then restarts after it has been off awhile then you may have to add a little water into the system and if the conditiond persist you will have to have the boiler chemically cleaned.
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:22 AM   #13
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


Additional explanation...think of your boiler as a full glass of water which, over time, some solids will settle out to the bottom of the glass..however, they will be minor and of no consequence UNLESS the solids are left and the water is replaced..this adds more impurities/solids to settle in the bottom PLUS more oxygen to react with the steel piping etc., SO, more blowdown = more solids = more problems. Remember you have a closed system. Do not drain or add water unless absolutely necessary. The regular blowdown procedures are for commercial boilers/systems wher the steam is used up in production and HAS to be replaced thereby resulting in excess sludge accumulation in the bottom of the boiler and in the LWCO therefore they have to be blown down to get rid of the solids. THIS IS NOT THE CASE WITH YOUR BOILER/SYSTEM.....unless it id losing excess water as in TOO MUCH blowdown OR system leaks.

Hope this helps. TechPappy
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:28 AM   #14
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


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Originally Posted by techpappy View Post
STOP blowing down..period..Only if you see water bouncing in guage glass or if the boiler shuts down intermittently due to low water then restarts after it has been off awhile then you may have to add a little water into the system and if the conditiond persist you will have to have the boiler chemically cleaned.

Yikes---I'm no boiler man---but that advice could cost the homeowner his boiler----

The low water switch is inside of that valve--if not blown off regularly the switch will get packed with sludge and not work when it's needed.

After blowing the hell out of one boiler---I had two low water switches installed on the new boiler---both were blown off once a day---

This was a large boiler in an area with very hard water.
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:33 AM   #15
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Problem blowing out Low Water Cut Off - Lots of oil discharged


LBA...I would bet my life that is NOT oil in the water. It is iron oxide that is very very black and could feel oily depending on the PH..If you put some on a cotton cloth and let it dry it will leave a black but non oily stain.

From your further description you should drain all water from your boiler and refill and add about 2 cups of caustic soda READ HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS ...fill pail with water FIRST then add the caustic soda..It can explode in you face if you try to add water to dry caustic..then add to boiler and fill to bottom of guage glass. Turn boiler on untill just boiling then turn off to cool . Do this a few times then drain again. Repeat until water is clean. Refill with clean water and put back in service...Do not keep blowing down weekly..Guage glass should remain clean.

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