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franklopes 11-07-2006 07:36 PM

Steam boiler corrosion problem
I live in the Northeastern US, and I have a steam boiler (Burnham, model PV86-ST) that is used to heat the house. It is 6 years old.
The boiler has a leak above the water level (so it loses most of the steam via the flue...) and I'm told that it was due to corrosion. Because of the leak, I need to constantly add water to the boiler.
It was explained to me that it was due to the presence of Oxygen in the water. The more water we added to the boiler, the faster the corrosion process took place. I have also been told that the presence of chlorides in the local water system makes the problem even worse.
1st: are these explanations plausible? Are there other explanations?
2nd: doing some research, I found several suppliers of "oxygen scavenger chemicals for steam boilers". Is this something that I need to look into? If yes, how does one purchase this? by the pound? Are these chemicals safe? How does one "inject" this stuff inside the boiler?
3rd: Instead of chemicals, are there filters that would "condition" the water and make it less "corrosive" if there is such a thing?
I'm lost and confused...

Sincerely, Frank Lopes

#CARRIERMAN 11-07-2006 10:05 PM

Hi franklopes

Whomever informed you of this was right on the money. The answers your after come in many formes. The biggest problem you will encounter with a steam boiler, is no one passes on the fact that the water has to be treated. If your lucky enough to have water that won't float a brick, you might be able to get by with that. But the way a boiler works, you get the water all upset causing it to release toxic waste. Zep chemical company has some of the best boiler treatments out there. The amount and what you use has to do with the size of the boiler and the contaminents in the water. If you have a six year old boiler leaking, I would definatley reccomend finding someone in your area to help you with finding the proper chemical and showing you how to properly use them. As far as the oxygen goes, oxygen is an excellerator. Anything it combines with is enhanced, chlorine, lime, etc. This is why controlling oxygen and hard water is so important to any boiler including hydronic system. Hydronics are not as crucial because they are very seldom open to the atmosphere. But steam is extremly vulnerable to the chemical effects. To get another take on this give mdshunk a nudge and see what he has to say. He may not agree exactly with me but he is a nother good knowledge source.

Good luck

mdshunk 11-08-2006 07:09 PM

Let me use my psychic abilities a little bit...
You have a water softener, and your boiler feed line is softened water?

K2eoj 11-08-2006 08:05 PM

I don't know about your water conditions but in my area corrosion in a steam system is virtually non-existant. When I first bought this house w/steam system I listened to a bunch of plumbers who had no experience with steam. Then I found a guy who straightened me out. I verified little corrosion when I pulled apart pipes for a remodel. My boiler is a 50's Bryant. Cast Iron exchanger.

I know in my area there are very few experts on steam, (but they won't tell you that). After 10 years on my system most plumbers I know call me when they have a question on steam. HS

franklopes 11-09-2006 08:02 PM

I don't have a water softner in the house... and I don't know if the water is "hard" or not. Is it a true statement that water hardness would cause "scaling" and not necessarely corrosion

Regarding the water softher, are you implying that I should or that I should not have one?

If I should, and since I don't, what do you recommend?


Originally Posted by mdshunk (Post 23175)
Let me use my psychic abilities a little bit...
You have a water softener, and your boiler feed line is softened water?

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