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How Clean is My Water...?

I had a used (only one season old) Weil-McLain EG-75 installed in fall of 09... hey' I got a great deal on this thing.  The water in it looks rusty, but the guy who installed it said since it had run one season already (even though in a different house) it wouldn't need to be cleaned (skimmed??).  We had a new "seal kit" put into it when it assembled it in my basement.  We both thought that would be the best thing to do.

It heats fine, but when I see pictures of other peoples installations, their water looks clean enough to drink.  Should I be jealous of that, or does it make a difference.  You can see thru the water, but, really it looks like it should have tadpoles swimming in it.

What 'dya think??


  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    The cleaner the better

    When you are looking in the sight glass, if you see anything floating on top of the water such as an oily film or rusty chunks of floating stuff, it needs skimming.  When it needs skimming the steam has to work harder to get through, and that costs you $$ in higher gas bills and it also costs you comfort at the radiator level.

    Its a good idea to blow down the bottom half periodicly to remove the sediment.  If you dont the sediment can solidify and make it almost impossible to drain in the future.  While your at it you should flush your wet returns as well because the sediment can solidify there too.

    Here are 2 photo's, evidence of poor or no maintenance.
  • Kentucky_Steam
    Kentucky_Steam Member Posts: 27
    I'll see if I can get a picture

    I'll try & get a good picture of my guage glass and post it here, but will be tomorrow.  If you don't mind, check back here by 9am Eastern tomorrow (Friday) and I'll have a picture, so you can see what my boiler water looks like.

  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    Yer welcome

    Lets have a look at that Weil Mclean too.  All 4 sides and where it hooks up in the ceiling.  Especially the wet returns (the smaller pipe that goes in the bottom of the boiler)
  • Kentucky_Steam
    Kentucky_Steam Member Posts: 27
    It may not be that bad...

    Now that I look at it, while the boiler is at rest, the look of the water may not be as bad as I thought.  Yesterday was just after the automatic feeder had given it a "drink" of fresh make-up water.

    At rest, the water looks clean.  The rusty looking stuff above the water line usually appears to mix in with the water when the burner is firing.

    Let me know what you think.  Thanks.
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    oily film

    Mine gets that oily film at the top too.  If you watch it when the boiler is working, it will rise and fall with the water line, it doesn't mix.  And if you can imagine the inside of the boiler, the inside is coated like that too.  I usually wait until it is not transparent before I skim.  I think it is cutting oil left over from when your new pipes were threaded.  Like I said though, your is not too bad. 

    When the boiler is at rest the water will look crystal clear because all the sediment inside has settled.  Once it gets boiling all that sediment gets stirred up and thats why you get the tadpole water.  You need to figure out how to blow down your boiler.  If you leave the sediment in there you will end up solidifying it to the bottom of the pot.  I dont know if you have ever burned chile or chicken soup to the bottom of the pot but if you don't blow down your boiler thats what you will get.

    On a 3rd note your water feeder should not even be running.  These things are supposed to get filled up and the same water is supposed to last a long time before ever needing more added.  Where is the water going, it is supposed to stay in the boiler
  • Kentucky_Steam
    Kentucky_Steam Member Posts: 27
    I appreciate the info

    There are a couple of vents on radiators in the house that seemed to "need help" in getting their cool air out and heating up sooner.  I probably need new traps in most of the house (we've been here 33 years and never have done that), but that's another story.  My guess is that some of the water is evaporating out of those vents until they shut.

    My water feeder has kicked on only once this season.... shows 1 gallon added.  Other than that, we see no leaks anywhere in the system.  I understand the signifigance of adding water (sediments, rusting, oxidation, etc.) so the issue of how much water goes in prompted me to get the digital feeder counter (VXT-24).  The boiler that came out when we did this replacement was, I believe, original to the house American Radiator Co. with no "low water cut-off". House built in 1910.  That's living on the edge.... I used to watch that thing carefully each heating season.

    Also, I have a probe-type LWCO, not float type.  What takes the place of "blowing down" if you have probe and not float LWCO?  I'm just the homeowner, but an avid reader on this stuff.
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    blowdown is the blue colored handle

    I have the EG55 and, I dont know for sure if the EG75 has the same tappings on it but my boiler blowdown is the blue colored handle circled in the photo.  If the photo is not clear, The handle is directly below the sight glass.  The EG75 is likely the same.

    The other blue colored handle is the skimmer (up to the right). 

    This photo is from last summer during the re-pipe
  • Kentucky_Steam
    Kentucky_Steam Member Posts: 27

    The picture helps.  Where you have the blue faucet handle is the same place on my EG75... just not blue, but it's there.  I would have called it a drain valve, but same place & purpose, I guess.

    However, where the other blue handle is on your EG55, there's only an exposed plug in the side of the cast iron end section of the boiler.  I know from the WM manual that this is supposed to be where "skimming" takes place, but there's only a metal (cast iron also) plug in the side of the boiler.

    Looks like maybe my installer didn't want bother with enabling the skimming process, as it may become needed, down the road.  Right now, it would take a big wrench and two big arms to get that plug removed.  Neither of which I have.

    Interesting thing I see on your EG55 are the dual risers (one at each end).  I thought that was for either the larger systems or water boilers only.  Mine is set up with only one riser and that's what the installation manual seems to call for on this model.  Did I mention that mine is steam and not hot water?
  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    skimming plug

    Wrong time of year to be messing with the skimming plug.  Might be best to leave that for spring. Your installer may have been concerned about cracking the section.  I have heard the guys here recomend skimming through the safety valve tapping. 

    Yes, I know you are steaming.  So am I.   I was told to use both risers.  It has something to do with making the steam dryer, and preventing the water from stacking up on one side.  There is also a drop header, to dry it out some more.  Then we busted up the bullhead in the ceiling and created 2 separate mains.  This is how it looks now. 

    The next shot is my little toxic waste pit outside where I blow all the crap to.

    The last pic is a magnet that has been rolled around in the toxic waste pit.  I filled that magnet 4 times.  Its clean now.  Yours wont be this bad, Mine was not maintained for 6 years.
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