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cleaning a new boiler?

We recently had our ancient boiler replaced, and after a couple of weeks our steam radiators started banging loudly when the heat came on. I called the plumber and he told us that it was due to sediment coming off our pipes, and that I needed to keep draining the boiler until the water ran clear. I did this several times, but the water would get dark again after a day, and the water pressure would go up on the gage so I would have to drain some water out to bring it back to its medium point. The plumber then suggested I use a store-bought liquid chemical to clean the boiler, and to do it a few times until the problem was cleared. He said if it didn't clear up, we might have to get the pipes replaced. I’ve run the chemical a couple of times, but am still facing the same problem and I’m concerned about the fact that these problems started happening after we got a new boiler. Does his advice sounds reasonable? And do you have any tips?


  • Robbie
    Robbie Member Posts: 41
    Have you tried Skimming?

    The manuals often state to skim the water- you are basically draining off the top "layer"which will have any floating oils, etc. on it. These oils can cause problems... When you drain the boiler, they will settle onto the inside, and then float off again until the next time... You may be getting only half the problem. Check the installation manual, and owners manual for the boiler: they should have directions where the skim tap is, and how to do this. I have seen a thread on this recently here, so you might want to try a search for it.

  • I bet its

    Without seeing any pictures of the job, I bet its the near boiler pipings problems. There's only one way to pipe the steam boiler, the right way.. Sounds like your plumber isn't a steam heating pro, esp when he said the pipes may need to be replaced, well, those pipes been steam cleaned for years. I suggest you to get those books from this site. ( the steamy deals) please do post some pictures so we can help you with your problems..
  • New Boiler Problems

    I agree with rjb, your plumber obviously has some serious deficiencies in his knowledge about steam heating.  To help you we need to have more knowledge about your steam system:

    1. Is it a one pipe or a 2 pipe system?  (This is determined by the number of pipes leading to each radiator - 1 pipe = a 1 pipe system, 2 pipes = a two pipe system) 

    2. What is the make and model of your new boiler?

    3. What is the pressure on the pressure gauge at the point the burner shuts off?

    As rjb mentioned it would be a big help to see some pictures of your boiler's piping. Take these from all four sides of the boiler and include the piping above the boiler and the piping going into/ out of the boiler.  Take the pictures high definition as we can then blow them up to study the detail. The pictures will help trace down the piping and determine if it has been piped properly. A lot of steam problems stem from incorrect piping near the boiler.

    There are several good books on residential steam heating available on this site. I'd highkly recommend you get "We Got Steam Heat"  http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Books/5/61/We-Got-Steam-Heat-A-Homeowners-Guide-to-Peaceful-Coexistence

    It is also available as a package with two other very good books on steam heating.Here's the link:  http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Super-Deals/14/129/A-Steamy-Deal

    These books are written for the homeowner and packed full of facts and diagrams on steam heating. They are easy, humorous, reading and after several evenings of reading you will probably know more about steam heating than your plumber.

    You might also want to take a look at the "Find A Professional" sectionat the top of this page and see if there is a steam pro located near you. There are some excellant steam pros listed there. Scroll down the page and look under your State as the "zip code find function" is a recent software update and has some "bugs".

    Post some pictures and info on your system and we''ll see if we can determine the problem

    - Rod
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    cleaning [skimming] a new boiler

    i am sure that the mfg. of your boiler will specify the procedure for skimming the boiler after installation. have a look at the manual, online if you don't have a copy.

    while you are at it look at the required piping layout, and see if the plumber followed those instructions as a minimum[pipe size, and height above the boiler]. if he did not, then he or someone more knowlegeable will have to repipe the steam pipes next to the boiler.

    i do not think anything other than pure water should be in a steam boiler.vc
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    what about water line....

    could it be that the plumber was sloppy in maintaining or attending to the waterline? if the WL is higher than the old one water could be making it's way up into the mains and causing loud banging. if the height difference is substantial enough, it's making it's way into the mains and hiding a great deal of water horizontally and then when the heat goes off, it overfills the boiler.

    i think I have explained the gauge level and banging problem .. not sure about the continuous dirty water .. perhaps it's wetting the mains where they haven't been wet in a while.

    see if you can measure from the ceiling to the end of lowest steam main...and then from ceiling to water level in gauge .. report back with those two dimensions ...

    also tell us what the max pressure is that you are running at.

    if possible take close-up pictures of all controls and gauges, boiler pipes, boiler, etc. see my "system" pics linked in my signature.
    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC

    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph

    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains

    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics
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