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Corrosion and clanging in church steam heating system

Our church boiler had to be replaced this past year because of corrosion in the tank.  It was only ten years old.  Our contractor blamed the corrosion on the fact that the boiler was collocated with a washing machine and laundry tub, which we have since relocated.  What might be the other sources of corrosion and how can we prevent a recurrence?  We are located in Baltimore City, which has had problems with water corroding pipes.  Our building is nearly 150 years old; we're not sure of the age of the heating system.

In a related issue, we have had chronic problems of leaks in the condensate return pipes, which run on gravity through the basement office space back to the boiler.  The pipes take several dips at doorways to offices, and that's where the water pools and corrodes the pipes, resulting in leaks.  Our contractor proposes replacing the pipe in the basement floor with a pipe in the ceiling and a pump to get the condensate up there, at a cost of $5000.  Based on what I read in the Pocketful of Steam Problems excerpts on the site, this makes sense, but we want to make sure we're getting this right.

One other problem, maybe related, is that we have massive clanging (water hammer?) in our radiators as the system is heating up.  Very loud.  Our contractor attributed it to clogged air vents but it seems more likely it's a problem of water not running back out of the radiators?


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,237
    edited March 2011
    Our company is in Baltimore

    and can help you with that. Give us a call- 410-321-8116 or my cell is 443-851-4121. See our Find a Professional ad at the link below for an example of what we can do.

    I think your corrosion is caused by all that fresh water the system is taking in. Baltimore's water is pretty good- it's one of the few things the city government hasn't completely screwed up.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Brad White
    Brad White Member Posts: 2,393

    First off, if you really ARE a church cat, the "quiet as a church mouse" phrase is secure in your parish.

    Secondly and my main point is, you are fortunate to be in Baltimore and to have a steam system. Frank "Steamhead" Wilsey is about the best there is and is in your back yard. You will be in the best possible hands, where science meets art.
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"

    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,524

    Your plumber is bats, not too put to fine a point on it...

    Get Steamhead!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,575
    edited March 2011
    damage done by washing machine to boiler?

    more than likely, it is due to the vapors of the washing powder, or if using softened water as makeup water, that would rot the sections out as well, and very quickly.

    the contractor who installed the boiler of course should have been able to correct the problem by now as part of the original installation, and so as that is not the case, it is time to get a second opinion from steamhead, one of the most experienced pros on this site [or anywhere]. you are indeed fortunate to be in his area of operation, and we will all love to hear how he solves these various steam problems.

    if you do a search here for water-hammer, with his name as the author, you will get a sense of the man and the professional in the clarity of his explanations, and the breadth of his steam knowledge.--nbc
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