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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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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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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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
 

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Boiler tech is what i would call

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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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
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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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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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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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.

:eek::eek: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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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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OH MIke..suggest you read the Peerless web site..a residential steam boiler system is designed to re use the steam..after it has condensed and runs back to the boiler ..hence no make up and should not have excess sludge ..even if on hard water ..it does have to be monitored for water losses though..did you ever consider that the homeowner you were referring to was also blowing down too frequently? thereby creating thew problem.

BTW Peerless is against automatic feed water in domestic systems for that reason alone..therefore if there are water losses the boiler will require attendance and alert the home owner there is a problem. I reiterate..no requirement for make up water..= very minor sludge/scale..excessive blow downs create problems..Common practice for maintenance would be to checxk LWCO with short blow down..once a month ..to make sure the burner shuts off then drain boiler just below LWCO yearly disassemble and clean as required .. Read my other comments..too much mblowdown..= too much sludge/scale
 

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Techpappy--that was in a three story story commercial building---perhaps I should not have added my 2 cents---I am not a boiler man.
 

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Oh Mike..that makes more sense commercial heating usually employ steam traps to return the water to a condensate return tank which then pumps the water back into the boilewr through a level control i.e. boiler pump control which is alsmost identical to a LWCO but uses open set of contacts which close when the water inthe boiler is approaching Low Water conditiions thereby refilling the boiler to normal. Quite often, if not maintained properly, the steam traps allow water/steam that is too hot, back to the condensate tank where it evaporates into the room or out to atmosphere via vent pipe..this also causes too much make up resulting in excess solids thus requiring more cleaning and blow downs Not Good

Process steam systems normally lose a lot of steam/water therefore require regular blow downs and chemical additives to treat the water to help keep the solids in suspension so they are purged with the blow downs.
 

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Also, as per Been There's remarks..could have some oil residue from original installation..e.g., oil from threads on piping..Cleaning with caustic, OR other chemical solution as recommended by water treatment company, as described will rid you of the oils as well. May have to repeat cleaning a few times as residues will carry over from affected system pipng.

Repeated and often blow downs from boiler drain and LWCO are recommended during the cleaning process to get rid of the contaminants.

If you call a commercial water treatment company I'm sure they will be happy to advise you further. You do not have a very large system so, shouldn't take more than a day to clean adequately.

NOTE If you can remove the drain valve after cleaning do so and look inside with a flash light ..you should be able to see nice clean heating surfaces inside. If plugged up with sludge try to remove as much as possible. If there are clean out pipes with caps you can remove the caps but, if they just plugs then attempting to remove them would likely crack the sections so, leave them alone. That's been my experience anyway,,even after heating with torches.

Please let us know how you make out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for all your replies. I'll contact a vendor recommended by Peerless and I'll update you once we have it serviced. Thanks for all your input. It;'s been helpful!
 
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