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Corrosion in Boiler?

First time posting, so please forgive me if I don't provide all the necessary info in my first post.  If you need more info, just let me know and I'll update.



I live in northern Massachusetts and have a 4 year old Burnham boiler in my home that has developed a small hole near the top of the block.  As a result, I have a lot of steam coming out of my chimney and the automatic fill is opening once a day.  Prior to the leak, water was being added roughly once every 3 weeks.



Upon contacting Burnham we were told our town is known for its "corrosive water" and that they would provide a new block free of charge on warranty but I should investigate alternatives for water filtration / additives to make sure this doesn't happen again.



I have two questions:

- Is this explanation feasible?

- If it is, what type of filtration, etc would he be talking about (he couldn't provide any details beyond "contact someone that does that sort of work").



The water in our town is not "hard" water, so we've never needed any sort of softeners, etc.  Probably worth noting that the previous boiler lasted decades.

 

Thanks in advance for any advice / suggestions you can provide. 

Thanks,

Steve

Comments

  • bad water?

    you might get some information from your water company about the chemical analysis of your water. the chemical which could attack the cast iron in boilers is chlorine. this could also be introduced into the boiler by storing water-softener salt, or any cleaning materials close by which contain chlorine. these vapors can be sucked up by the air intake of the burner, and will cause "graphitic corrosion" in the cast iron sections

    other causes of such a leak in a young boiler could be a leaky system, causing water to be made up frequently. this would introduce oxygenated water into the system in such quantities as to cause rusting out of the sections-usually above the water-line. you have said that the auto-fill used to add water once every 3 weeks, but was it turned off ,unless  you were there to see it filling every 3 weeks?

    there are auto-fill setups with an on board water meter, which would be useful in this case to prove to the mfg. that there had been no leak in the system.

    the fact that they would provide some assistance in the repair is interesting, because most manufacturers would not warranty a product for failure because of conditions beyond their control-like abnormal water chemistry, or other contamination.

    have you contacted the original installer, and if so, does he know of any other boiler problems caused by your local water chemistry?.--nbc
  • SteveS
    SteveS Member Posts: 9
    Response

    Nicholas -

    Thanks for the response.  I'm working closely with the original installer.  He isn't aware of any other local boiler issues caused by local water chemistry.  Good point re: the auomatic fill.  The heat is turned down (significantly) when we're not here, but I can not say without a doubt that it doesn't fill when we're not around.  There are no chemicals, etc stored nearby and we don't have a water softener.



    Steve
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,314
    I find boiler issues due to poor water

    are accelerated by poor near boiler piping. Chlorides are far more of a concern for a boiler than the water hardness. High water usage due to leaks elsewhere in the system lead to short boiler life. how often did your boiler require water since it was installed? Daily, weekly, or monthly?
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,314
    I find boiler issues due to poor water

    are accelerated by poor near boiler piping. Chlorides are far more of a concern for a boiler than the water hardness. High water usage due to leaks elsewhere in the system lead to short boiler life. how often did your boiler require water since it was installed? Daily, weekly, or monthly?
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • SteveS
    SteveS Member Posts: 9
    Water Needs

    Prior to developing the leak, the boiler only required about once every 3 weeks.

    Steve
  • Johnny13
    Johnny13 Member Posts: 45
    I have been wanting t ask.

    I have seen several threads mentioning the white smoke out the chimney. Is any smoke at all acceptable? I don't know what constitutes "a lot". 
  • SteveS
    SteveS Member Posts: 9
    RE: Steam coming from the chimney

    Johnny,

    While I am not an expert I can say that up until developing this leak, I would see very little if any visible evidence at the chimney when the boiler was running.  I had been told along the way that was nomal and if I every suspected a leaking boiler that was the first thing to look for.  With the leak, there is a great deal of steam visible when the boiler is operating.



    Steve
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,470
    Water quality

    Some areas of RI and MA have high levels of chlorides (salt) in the water and this causes the boiler to corrode like no tomorrow. MWRA water is usually ok but if the water is coming from a well it could be suspect. If the water dept doesn't know what the chloride level is have it some of your tap water tested by a lab to see what you have.



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • SteveS
    SteveS Member Posts: 9
    re: Water Qaulity

    Thanks Bob,

    I am going to have my water tested as you suggested.  If the chloride level is abnormally high, are there filters, etc that can be used prior to the water entering the boiler to eliminate the issue?

    Steve
  • Johnny13
    Johnny13 Member Posts: 45
    Noticed the boiler was running.

    So I stepped outside. I do see some white smoke exiting the chimney. Constant, and measurable, but I would be inclined to call it wispy. Is this the sort of thing I can ride out the winter with and address in spring?
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    edited December 2010
    Graphitic Corrosion

    Hi Steve- Here are a couple of links I saved from a past discussion on this. The Burnham Megasteam is supposed to be more resistant to this type of corrosion than other models. On the "Megasteam Link" read through it as the good info on corrosion is buried in with a lot of general questions on the Megasteam.

    - Rod

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/11/Hot-Tech-Tips/244/Steam-Boiler-Failure

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/95889/Burnham-Mega-Steam
  • SteveS
    SteveS Member Posts: 9
    re: Rod

    Rod - thanks for the links - great info.



    Steve
  • SteveS
    SteveS Member Posts: 9
    re: Water Quality and Chlorides

    I checked with our water department and depending on the welll being used, the chlorides range from 55 ppm to 284 ppm (across the 4 wells in town).  They provided the details below.  Of course I have no idea whether these numbers are good or bad.  I'll be follow up with a local expert, but does anyone have any thoughts / insight into whether this is good or bad?



    Sodium  33 mg/l - 142 mg/l

    Chlorides 55 ppm - 284 ppm

    Calcium 6.9 mg/l - 30.8 mg/l

    Conductivity 385 umhos - 1222 umhos
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Water Analysis

    Steve- You might want to contact Rhomar Water  http://www.rhomarwater.com/products/residential-steam-system/     to see if they can offer any advice. They're good people to work with.  Please let us know what you find out.

    - Rod
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,712
    Which model Burnham

    do you have? 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • SteveS
    SteveS Member Posts: 9
    Re: Model

    It's a Burnham Independence 87,000 BTU (Model PIN4SNI-ME2).
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,470
    Wispy

    It might be a very small hole, are you going through a lot of water?



    Is this oil or gas fired?



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,712
    Unfortunately

    the MegaSteam is oil-fired only. Burnham has not approved it for use with power gas burners. I hope that changes- it's the best residential steamer out there and they know we want a gas burner option for it.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • TomM
    TomM Posts: 233
    CO detectors

    don't forget to double check your CO detectors!  just a reminder.
    beautiful Conshohocken PA
This discussion has been closed.