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Boiler Failures

Is anyone aware of a good list of boiler metal failures and the probable causes?


  • crash2009
    crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    edited October 2011
    No list

    that I know of.  Steamhead (a contributor here) and very knowledgeable professional, has done post-mortems of many different models.  You can find these post-mortems by searching the wall, select all time, and type "steamhead" in the author text box.

    Too much fresh water seems to be a very common cause of boiler failure.

    If you are shopping for a new boiler, the first place to start is to figure out what size you need.  Can you show us with a photo, what kind of radiators you have?  Then we would be able to help you figure out what size boiler you need.

    I found an article you might like to read  http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/323/Boilers/244/Steam-Boiler-Failure
  • KBP&H_3
    KBP&H_3 Member Posts: 67
    edited October 2011

    I recently visited a boiler manufacturer and the number one cause of boiler failures was chlorides in the water, the same as stainless steel indirect water heaters having the weld fail, Check your water and make sure there is no leaking steam.  use a feeder that has a water meter built in, If your replacing, research the steam chest in the boiler, you will find there are newer designs that mimic the old ( grandpa's) steam boiler. there are alot of steam boilers that haven't changed in the last 15 years, thus the same problem, just a new boiler>
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,715
    edited October 2011
    Thanks, Crash

    actually I don't have that many pictures, but am glad to post what I have.

    These boilers all failed from oxygen corrosion around the waterline. The cause is almost always too much fresh water being added to the system. In each system we had either repaired leaks previously or found them when we commissioned the new boilers.

    The failures don't seem to be restricted to one brand. But they were all atmospheric gas boilers. And they all have failed at the end where the return line is connected- that's where the fresh water enters the boiler.

    This is one reason I wish Burnham would stop stonewalling on our request for a MegaSteam with a gas burner. The MegaSteam is the best residential steamer, hands down, with the only anti-corrosion warranty in the business, yet they ignore the fact that some 70% or so of all boilers installed today are gas-fired. It doesn't make business sense to design and produce a superior unit and then limit its sales that way.

    In order to keep track of how much water is being fed to a steam boiler, we install Hydrolevel VXT water feeders with built-in counters. These make it easy to track water consumption.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,439
    edited October 2011

    steamhead,  those look exactly like what I found when I busted my V8 block apart today.  I noticed one of your pictures looks like a Weil-Mclain block.  I hope I can stop that from happening to the new EG boiler.  

    I have to ask.  Does anyone manually feed distrilled bottled water into their steam boiler or is it pointless?  I would assume this would ensure NO chlorides.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • AlexR
    AlexR Member Posts: 61
    why the difference in color?

    What causes that difference in color between the front and back of the sections you showed?  It looks like the back was more rusted?  Or was that on the atmosphere side, from combustion products?
This discussion has been closed.