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Cleaning Out the Rusty Water

Chris M_2
Chris M_2 Member Posts: 67
All,  I have a two year old Burnham Megasteam 396.  It's running very well, but one thing I noticed is that the waterline bounces quite a bit now, and drops down to about 1/4 inch of the bottom of the site glass, which is only about an inch above the marked "Do not operate with water below this line."  At the beginning of this last heating season, I spent an hour draining/filling/draining filling/draining/filling the water until it was as clean as I could get it.  I then filled to the proper level (about an inch from the top of glass), and it ran like a top all season.  So, I suppose this winter's boiler cycling obviously loosened more rust and sludge from the 60 year old pipes and old rads, and this is why the water line's bouncing and dropping more now.  My question is this:  Is there an additive I can put into the water to help suspend the crud so that when I open the valve at the bottom of the boiler to drain it out, the exiting water will take more of the dirt with it?  I don't have the ability to close a valve in the steam header near the boiler to build steam pressure to blast the dirt out through the drain valve, and am not particularly inclined to want to put one of these valves in. Please let me know what you use to clean out the crud. Thanks in advance for your replies.. Chris Mannering


  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    Dirty return lines?

    You can clean the boiler for days, but the mud can always come back from the returns. I try to find the furthest tapping in the return line (main line vent?) and screw a hose bib in there. Then I run a garden hose to it, and a hose from the lowest return drain near the boiler to outside. Then let it rip. But be careful not to fill the boiler back up with that loosened up return sludge.

    I would avoid "cleaning chemicals" unless you want to fix every joint in your system that starts leaking.
  • Al Letellier_21
    Al Letellier_21 Member Posts: 402
    additive for steamers

    I have had great luck with a product called 8 cleans and treats the boiler water and leaves a purple color to it. It acts like liquid litmus paper so you can monitor the stuff in the sight glass...just be careful and follow the directions....too much can lead to foaming and the loss of steam production. Otherwise, its a great product.
  • Chris M_2
    Chris M_2 Member Posts: 67
    I'll do both..

    Thanks JStar and Al.  I'll do both.

    JStar: Removing the main vent will be easy; screwing on a hose bib and tapping a hose on will be difficult though, taking into account that the hose itself needs room to curve without kinking (there's nearly no room around the area where the main vent is.. structural wood). I'll give it a shot though.  My only worry is that I don't want to blast big chunks of crud into the boiler itself, and then not be able to get them out through the drain valve because they're too big.

    Al: Thanks for that suggestion.. I'm on the rectorseal site right now, checking out the 8 Way, and other products.

    Thanks again.. CMannering
This discussion has been closed.