Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.


Dan C.
Dan C. Member Posts: 248
I have been having a problem in the last two years or so with most of the smaller steam boilers that I install (IN4 and IN5).  I have to go back and skim them way more times than I ever used to.  Sometimes 10 times.  One of them is two years old and I just got a call that it is spitting and banging again.  This happened last year too.  I go back and flush out the boiler and then skim it again and everything is fine.  Then a few months later I have to go back and do it again.  I never use any boiler chemicals or anything like that.  Should I?  I have never had this problem up until the last few years and more than half of the boilers I put in have this problem.  The only thing I do differently that I can think of is that I use a different kind of dope than what I used to.  I can't imagine that that would still be causing problems two years later though.  Anyone else ever have problems like this?  Also if I put a chemical in it, what should I use? It never happens to me on larger boilers either.  Maybe a coincidence.


  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,058
    is the pigtail clogged?

    Or is the firing rate to high?
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • auto-skimming?

    i think it is time for someone to develop an auto-skimmer, which could be piped in during installation, and would separate out the oils, like a fat separator, for making the turkey gravy! periodically, it would have to be emptied. the lwco could be used for this as it should be blown down, frequently.

    i also think in this case that the pressure may be the culprit.--nbc
  • Dan C.
    Dan C. Member Posts: 248
    pigtail is not plugged

    Pigtail is not plugged and pressure is 1 1/2 psi max. As soon as I clean and skim it fixes the problem.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,401

    Are you sure that different pipe dope isn't the cause? The water in Medford is MWRA I believe so it should be fine. I'm in Quincy so I think we are on the same water.

    My 14 year old boiler was skimmed after being installed and not since. I just dump a few quarts every 3-4 weeks to keep the muck level down and add water to bring it back up to NWL.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,058
    yes, Burnhams do seem to take many skimmings

    compared to something like the slant-fin..we had one that did a similar thing once and on about the eighth skim we drained the wet returns and allowed the steam to enter the wet returns and steam clean them, while wasting the condensate to a floor drain..once we did that we never went back to skim again..oils must have been hanging up in the returns..maybe you can try that technique also.
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • Polycarp
    Polycarp Member Posts: 135
    rad valves

    Did you close the radiator valves?  I imagine that would route more of the steam into the wet returns.
  • Dan C.
    Dan C. Member Posts: 248
    no wet returns.

    There are not wet returns.  It is a very simple very small counterflow system with one main and about seven or eight radiators.  I don't know where it is coming from.  Doesn't make sense but I went back and skimmed it again and it's working fine.  This is about the tenth time.  Hopefully the last time.
This discussion has been closed.