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Skim port

Hello all,



I have a Weil McLain 400k btu steam boiler in my place. When I bought the building almost 2 years ago, the water in the sight glass had a green yellow flourecent look to it. i assume that there was some sort of treatment in the tank.



After running it for the past couple of seaons, and doing blow downs and reg mainteneance, the water is now clear, most likely to the dilution of adding more to keep the level up.



Id like to make sure I take any precautionary measurements to proling the life of the system, so a) should I be adding some type of water treatment back into the water. and b) is the best way to add to the boiler through the skim port? or pressure relief at the top?



The skim port on the face of my boiler has just a square headed plug in it, there is no pipe or nipple that comes off. Would I be advised to add one? if so, and before I go cranking on the plug to put a port on it, do those usually come out failry easily? the last thing I want to do is try and remove an iron plug from the iron boiler, and wind up cracking or damaging anything. Figured perhaps some of you here would have experience if you can get those fittings out after a number of years or if theres a good way to do it by using heat or a special technique etc.



thanks!
Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,334
    Treatment

    In general, it seems most people tend to avoid treating residential boiler water, unless it is really bad, like too acid.



    If that skim port plug as been in there for a while, it may be almost impossible to get out without mayhem.  If I absolutely had to add a treatment, though... but I'd probably not do it.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.
    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Christian Garibaldi
    Christian Garibaldi Member Posts: 57
    I see

    But what makes a residential boiler different form a commercial one in terms of why you would treat the water in one vs the other? Id think no matter what the application, you could have the same maintenance issues potentially. Whne it all boils down to it (no pun intended) youre dealing with water and iron in either
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    Water treatment

    While I'm just a homeowner and knew absolutely nothing about steam before 2011 I agree with you.  Why is a residential boiler any different than commercial as far as water treatment requirments.  I just want to make sure everyone knows who I am and that what I beleive is not necessarily true.  I have not been doing this for long compared to others on the forum.

    The previous boiler here rotted out twice, once after 3 years and again after 5 years.  There is another threat on the forum talking about a rotted out 8 year old boiler.  Sure some of this may have to do with leaky systems and incorrect piping but as far as I'm concerned they also scream a need for proper water treatment.

    I personally run Rectorseal steamaster tablets in low dose and have also found the need to skim occasionally.  Bottom blowdowns are definatly necessary to get minerals and what not out of the system if a lot of makeup water has been used.  If I have trouble finding more of the steamaster tablets I may try Rhmar's 903 boiler pro treatment.  I don't , but that may be what is in your system as I thought it was green\yellow colored.  If you don't know whats in it for sure its best to wash everything out before adding something different.



    If the plug has been in the skim port for 2 years my opinion is now is the time to try and get it out.  The longer you wait the worse its going to be and its a necessity not an option as any time oil is introducted into the system its going to be needed.  Please see the photos in my signature for the way I setup my skimmer.
    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
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,334
    Only size

    that's the only difference between a residential heating boiler and a commercial heating boiler (well, and code required additional safety devices).  And Chris does have a point.  Poor water quality can cause a great deal of trouble in either one.  The worst offenders in that regard are too low a pH, of which more in a moment, and chlorides.



    Too low a pH can be treated in two ways: adding something to the boiler water to raise the pH, or treating the water in the building to raise the pH.  Either will work.  If the pH is really low, there is a good deal to be said for treating the building water, as low pH can also cause excessive corrosion in the plumbing.  There is, however, one other source of a low pH and boiler corrosion problems: adding too much water.  Most boiler manufacturers have, somewhere in the boiler manual, a recommendation for the maximum amount of water which should be added.  In my humble opinion, those recommendations are too high -- way too high.  In principle, there should be no need for additions in a heating system.  In practice, a small amount of water will be lost in almost any system.  Small being the operative term; if you are needing to add more than a gallon a week, you need to find out why.  The reason this is a problem is that that water will have dissolved oxygen in it, and unless one is really careful to boil it immediately on addition, that dissolved oxygen will cause corrosion and low pH problems.  Oxygen scavengers can be added to the boiler water (and are added, in large commercial systems, particularly in systems providing process steam as well as heating steam) to virtually eliminate this problem.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing... so regular testing must be done to ensure that the level of scavenger and pH is being properly maintained.



    Chlorides are just simply bad news, and I don't have any really clever ideas for getting rid of them.  They can be a real headache in some parts of the country.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.
    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Christian Garibaldi
    Christian Garibaldi Member Posts: 57
    so

    what is the best recommended additive to control and maintain against such phenomenon?
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    edited April 2013
    Don't know

    You may never get an answer on this.   Some guys prefer pure water, others like Rhomar 903 and others like Rectorseal steamaster tablets.



    Me?  I'm willing to try Rhomar's product and will try anything except pure water anymore.  So far great luck with the steamaster tablets, just trouble finding them which is why I may switch to Rhomar's product next.  I believe both products probably work great as long as they are used in moderation.  Less is better for sure.  For steamaster you want 1,  MAYBE two tablets and no more.  Two is the absolute most and whatever you do, do not follow the instructions on the bottle or you will find all of your boiler water up in the steam mains pretty fast.





    I'd recommend buying whichever you can find easily as well as buying a quality PH meter.  PH is very important and I've found the tape which I think measures something like 1-14 to be ok, but not accurate enough as its hard to tell if I'm looking at 9, 10 or 11.  9 is great, 10 is not.
    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
  • Christian Garibaldi
    Christian Garibaldi Member Posts: 57
    great info

    its a huge help thank you!
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,288
    Alkalinity

    In addition to pH you should also check the alkalinity. Most treatments that treat pH will also address alkalinity, but if you're not using anything you should check it. Alkalinity stabilizes the pH; you can go crazy trying to adjust the pH without an adequate buffering system.



    I would think that the commercial treatments would also take care of chlorides unless they're unusually high.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,288
    Removing the plug

    You're going to need the right tool for this, meaning a 4 or 8-point socket of the appropriate size and a 3/4" or 1" breaker bar. If you chew up the head with a pipe wrench you'll never get it out of there.



    Make sure the socket fits snugly on the plug. It's sometimes necessary to file off casting marks and other defects.



    You'll probably need to extend the breaker bar with a length of pipe. Be careful not to tip the boiler over or creep it off the slab.



    The thing you're working against is hardened pipe joint compound. It makes the threads very tough to break and prevents any kind of penetrating oil from getting in. It only responds to elbow grease. Eat your Cheerios.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    Old pipe

    When all else fails, we have good luck drilling several holes through the plug, and using a sawzall with a blade cut in half to make it extra skinny. Risky, but effective.
  • Christian Garibaldi
    Christian Garibaldi Member Posts: 57
    thank you!

    I will try that. let me ask this, if the boiler was installed in 2004, should I even be bothering trying to install a skim port now? I have no idea if it was ever skimmed, or what its maintenance was prior to my buying the place almost 2 yrs ago. I just thought perhaps I could add it as a maint item sort of in case I ever needed to clean or skim etc.



    That being said, i picked up two bottles of steam master tablets, they arent the easiest to find. So now I guess the next ? is should I do any of what is said on the bottle, in terms of adding an amount, firing the boiler for a few hours, on full, then fully drian boiler, refill and add more tablets to the water as a preventative and call it a day?



    I also picked up a PH testing kit , i got it at an aquarium store. The water thats in there right now reads 8.5 ph. If that matters to anyone. I assume that is acceptable?



    Also, where have you guys gotten your 4 point sockets? The plug in the boiler is a 1 1/2 inch size, the square head is about 1.25 so I just wondered if there are any places you know that have them like a sears, or snap on? If not Ill look around online. Its tough to get any wrench on it, it sits back from the sheet metal, I ant get a good bite on it with a pipe or open end anyway. Taking off the sheet metal looks like a pain, since idd have to pull the water feeder, electric switches, pressuretrol, sight glass, drain port etc. Thats kind of why Im asking if its even worth messing with to put a skim port on after all this time.
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • Christian Garibaldi
    Christian Garibaldi Member Posts: 57
    Its done

    Well I successfully removed the plug from the boiler chest. Took some muscle, a giant crescent wrench and a jack handle, but it came free with no drama or damage. i added a 1 1/2 inch 6 inch nipple, a brass gate valve and a cap. So now I can flush and skim the boiler in the future.



    I added some steam master tablets and am letting the system run for a few hours to help spread through the system and then Ill drain the boiler, flush it, refill, add a few tablets, run it again and then shut it down for the season. Anything I missed?



    I also added a second gorton #2 main vent on the longer of the two mains I have which wasnt heating up as fast as the rear shorter one. It still isnt as fast to heat up as the rear, but that could just be due to the size and that the rear feeds 7 radiators that are smaller, and comprise the back 1/3 of the rear buildings main loop, while the front feeds 11 radiaotrs, some of which are 6 feet long. I also changed the radiator vents in the one room where the thermostat is located all to gorton 4s, since that room always got hotter than the rest of the place.



    ....Riveting......I know! hahaha
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    "a few tablets"

    No no no!



    Do not use more than TWO tablets for normal use! I'm currently only using one tablet in a 150,000btu boiler.



    The instructions on the bottle are either for much older boilers, or commercial boilers but what they are not for is residential. Don't worry, it won't do any damage, but it will cause your boiler water to go up into the mains constantly until you dilute it.



    It does seem to work as a good cleaner in high dosage though, usually four pills is plenty for cleaning.
    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
  • Christian Garibaldi
    Christian Garibaldi Member Posts: 57
    Well....

    Its actually more than a few. I dropped 8 or 9 in actually. I know its more than would be needed, and I understand not to follow the recommendation on the bottle. If i had I think I would have needed almost the entire bottle. My boiler is a 400,000 BTU weil mc lain EGH steam boiler. I dont know the history of maint on it. I just bought the building a year and a half ago. So my thought was, to try and make it last longer than by not doing anything and be preventative. Like I said, what I jsut put in right now, I am going to let run at full for a few hours in the system, then shut it down and completely drain the chest, flush it out really well with a hose to try and get as much stuff out as I can. Then fill and skim, then add a few tablets (Not 9!) and fire it back up and run it again then call it a season. I understand that its not wise to overdo it with the additives. And I will also take a ph reading when Im done. I took one yesterday before adding anything and I was getting 8.5.



    im just trying to **** the system and make sure that the system is fairly clean and ready to sit for the spring and summer
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • Christian Garibaldi
    Christian Garibaldi Member Posts: 57
    BTW

    forgot to add, that as I am running the system right now with the additive, the water in the sight glass is solid brown, very muddy, more so than when I would normally run it before I started all of this, the hopefully its helping to wash some of the crud down.
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    edited April 2013
    Cleaning

    You might want to build a wand and wash the boiler out from the inside.



    After you're done your gauge glass should look like this.



    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-aDgQDYIWlFo/UVtBgYap0CI/AAAAAAAABPc/3ZSQ934NWow/s912/DSC04076B.jpg





    Here is a video from Gerry Gill on using a wand for cleaning. I skimmed my boiler 6 times and was still having problems until I tried this. Main difference is I used my skimport and let it drain into buckets through the boiler drain. Took more time but a lot of my basement floor is dirt, so that would've been a disaster.



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1tw9rz-pUk&feature=share&list=UU7gDszI9COdVbfvJP2YdY5Q
    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
  • Christian Garibaldi
    Christian Garibaldi Member Posts: 57
    yes,

    I had come across that video a while ago. Looks like a good method
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,422
    Any other problems?

    Try to get back to pure water sometime soon, unless you know that the feed water has a chloride problem.

    Are there any other problems? Can you get steam everywhere at 2 ounces without the vaporstat cycling the boiler? Don't spend too much on fuel by allowing the pressure to go above that unless it is -20 outside!--NBC
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    edited April 2013
    I would

    not go back to pure water.



    Too many corrosion problem even with the best water in my opinion. This is why all commercial boilers run water treatment. No matter what you do, when you mix water oxygen and iron the iron rusts and a boiler contains all 3 at all times.



    I'm not alone in this belief and a low dose of steamaster does not appear to have any negative effects on performance but it does inhibit corrosion greatly.
    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
  • Christian Garibaldi
    Christian Garibaldi Member Posts: 57
    No not really

    any other problems right now. I have some fine tuning to do with the rad venting, they are all over the place. I do not have a vaporstat, my system is using a pressuretrol but its set all the way down. There is a pressure gauge, but its not a low enough one to even move off the seat.
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • Christian Garibaldi
    Christian Garibaldi Member Posts: 57
    Im no expert

    of scientist, by any stretch, but I would concur that having some type of additive in the water couldnt hurt. Im not arguing that straight water is fine, but iron, water and oxygen def equals rust. I have enough of it in my place to remind me. hahah. So Id think anything to help curb that could be of benefit
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    Proof

    is in the pudding, right?



    This is my gauge glass and boiler water after 3 months of running with Steamaster in the system.



    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-aDgQDYIWlFo/UVtBgYap0CI/AAAAAAAABPc/3ZSQ934NWow/s912/DSC04076B.jpg



    Notice the water in the bucket at the bottom of the picture? Some of that came from the gauge glass, most from the boiler drain. Even after 3 months of running the boiler it self had very little rusty water in it. I feel any rust that is in it, came from the rest of the system.



    Before using Steamaster my boiler water was always rusty, and doing a bottom blowdown came out like muddy water. Sure, maybe my water is worse than others even so, why risk corrosion if you can avoid it?



    I should be a salesman. :)
    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
  • Christian Garibaldi
    Christian Garibaldi Member Posts: 57
    well....

    Look more like an industrial raspberry margarita machine to me :-)
    Weil McLain EGH 95 400,000 BTU single pipe steam
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