Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
In fairness to all, we don't discuss pricing on the Wall. Thanks for your cooperation.
Need to contact us? Visit

Skim Port Drain Plug Removal Advice

GeoffGGeoffG Member Posts: 8
Looking for some help. I recently had work done on my single pipe system, and need to skim the boiler. I have what looks to be an inch and a half or 2 in. drain plug that I cannot get loose. I've used a 3 foot pipe wrench and applied as much pressure as I dare, but since the plug appears to be bronze I don't want to tear it. Access is very limited with the site gauge on one side and low water valve on the other. Anyone have suggestions on how to remove this drain plug?


  • SnowmeltSnowmelt Member Posts: 751
    edited May 2014
    Lot of

    Oil, just kidding, maybe soak it, but get a picture or two of it and with your pipe wrench on it.

    Also do you think dry ice would help, let's see what others say , but seriously get some pics so we can determine what we're dealing with.
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,441

    A lot of mechanics swear by this stuff , i don't think there is a better penetrating oil available. I would apply some and give that brass plug a good rap (to shock the interface between the plug and boiler) with a ball peen hammer, let it sit for a day and apply more and give it another rap. Don't beat it to death, you just want the shock to open up a channel for the penetrating oil to go into.

    I agree that a picture would help us see what your dealing with.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,540

    This is one of those situations where a drop header, piped with a drain valve at waterline height in the equalizer could be cleared of the oil by draining it out from the equalizer.

    When the boiler first fires up, all the oil is thrown up into the header, and then into the equalizer where it is trapped., and can be drained off.--NBC
  • jonny88jonny88 Member Posts: 1,139

    If it is a brass plug i would drill a hole through it and then with a sawzall make a cut in plug from the middle to the thread careful not to cut tapping on boiler.good luck
  • GeoffGGeoffG Member Posts: 8
    A few pics of problem plug

    As you can see, there is not much space to work. I would really prefer not to have to strip everything off. There is also a thread sealant on the threads.
  • SnowmeltSnowmelt Member Posts: 751

    That's tight alright, what about the dry ice theory , you just have to work at it, not going to be easy. What about the smaller bolts around the bigger plug, might want to take the whole thing off.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 8,627

    I don't know how well it works, but I've skimmed via my gauge glass  a few times just to clean the glass.  Remove the drain from the bottom of the gauge glass and let the water trickle down through it.

    That said, what's up with your piping!?  The pictures don't really show it but it certainly doesn't look right.
    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

    Steam system pictures
    Central air project pictures
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,540
    Unusual piping to say the least!

    Are you having strange behavior from the boiler, which led you to believe that skimming would fix the symptoms? That piping looks to be capable of blowing lots of water up into the supplies, and maybe you should wait on skimming until the risers are corrected.

    What diameter are the risers?--NBC
  • FredFred Member Posts: 5,265
    Tankless water heater cover

    That plate with the six bolts on it is a cover for where a tank-less coil would go (if you were to install one) If nothing else works, you can order a new rubber gasket, remove those six bolts (they usually come out easily, (at least mine do) take the cover to a vise where you can work at getting that plug out or cutting it out of the cover. The good thing is it does not screw into the boiler block so you damage the boiler block. If you screw anything up, it will be that cover and they are an inexpensive replacement.  Once you get the plug out, put a new one in, replace the gasket and screw the six bolts back into the boiler. If you decide you can't get the plug out, even with the cover off, order a new cover when you order the gasket.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 3,162

    I was going to comment on the piping as well, but it wasn't the primary reason for the post so I didn't.  Of course now that the door has been opened...almost looks like each riser is piped independent like one for each main and each having it's own equalizer etc.  Very strange indeed.  Is it possible for that to cause surging, especially if the mains are imbalanced (not split 50/50 in the house)?  Just trying to think of why they could think it needs skimmed.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • RobGRobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Definitely odd

    That is definitely an odd piping arrangement but I don't see why it wouldn't work. More like allot of wasted piping. Are the risers bushed down at the boiler or are they full sized? I imagine the equalizers connect? How does it heat?
  • GeoffGGeoffG Member Posts: 8
    edited May 2014
    Reason for skimming

    First the piping, yes they are equalized separately. But the system works as it should. The reason I need to skim the boiler is that I am remodeling the kitchen and original installer had riser to second floor below the ceiling for about three feet (horizontal section). Since the ceiling was coming out, the builder/remodeler suggested raising the horizontal section into the ceiling joists. I was apprehensive knowing the side affects that could follow, but it did leave a clean unobstructed ceiling. So the plumber replaced about 10 feet of riser. Thanks to Dan's book I new oil could be a problem so I had the plumber clean/degrease the inside as best he could. Needless to say the hammering started the next day.

    After failing to remove the plug I did skim from the upper site glass and seems to have worked. So why the need to pull the plug? I already purchased the valve and els to do it right, not realizing the plug was going to be such a bear.

    I'll add a better pic of the overall header section, but that has not been a problem.
  • TechmanTechman Member Posts: 2,144

    Can the round plate be removed and worked on somewhere else?
  • GeoffGGeoffG Member Posts: 8
    Additional pics

    Removing the plate does seem to be an option. Does anyone know of a good tool to use on this type plug? Seems the pipe wrench I have is too crude and will easily cut into the soft metal plug. A square socket seems would be ideal, but I haven't come across any.

    For those of you perplexed by the near boiler piping, I'm including front and rear shots. So are there dual Hartford loops?
  • FredFred Member Posts: 5,265
    Water Hammer

    Where was the water hammer? Usually if the problem is dirty (oily water) you will see a lot of bounce in the sight glass at the boiler but not necessarily water hammer. If you hear (heard) water hammer in the area where the piping was replaced, it is very possible that the plumber did not pitch the horizontal run correctly or sufficiently to allow the water to run back to the boiler. As I said in an earlier post, I think your best bet is to remove the six bolts and get that plug out away from the boiler. Once you get it out, you would be well served to replace the plug with a ball valve and end cap (for safety so that if someone should open the valve they won't be scalded by steam). The end cap can be hand tight and will be convenient whenever you need to skim, in the future.
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,540
    Unusual piping layout

    I'm surprised it has worked, as the risers look to be much smaller than the instructions call for as a minimum.

    Still stranger configurations have been described as working well. Of course, many people have no experience with an absolutely quiet, perfect, and even steam system,and therefore view the noise they suffer as inevitable, and part of a normal steam experience.--NBC
  • GeoffGGeoffG Member Posts: 8
    edited June 2014
    Step 1

    Thanks all for your input. I'll start with the penetrating oil and see how that goes. BobC thanks for the link.
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 1,349
    A few suggestions

    First, penetrating oil won't penetrate sealed threads.

    Removing the plate might not buy you much. It's already bolted to a pretty heavy object that will hold it more securely than a typical workbench, but if you do take it off, be careful not to damage the mating surface, and if you warp it, flatten it out before you try to put it back on.

    The main advantage to removing the plate, if any, might be that you can then apply heat to the plate so it will expand and loosen its grip on the plug. I'd probably put the pug in a vise, make a tool that will engage a couple of the bolt holes with a long lever arm, apply heat to the plate and then try to spin it off with the tool.

    Check to see if new plates are available (they should be) and how much they cost so you won't be up the creek if you wreck it. If you find it's not too expensive, you might just order a new one and save yourself the aggravation.
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S
    3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,441
    Probably right

    Hap you are right about penetrating oil getting through thread sealer that has been on there for a long time. Since he already has the oil it MIGHT help if he could chip some of that sealer away before applying the oil.

    The plug in my Smith G8 boiler was 1-1/4' and the square head on it was 1", if yours is a 1-1/2" plug it might be a 1-1/4" square head. You can buy open end wrenches to fit them and then use a cheater with it. The other option would be the right size square impact socket and a breaker bar / cheater. None of the above is cheap (I would not trust a cheap wrench with a cheater on it) or easily obtainable but they both would be a lot easier to maneuver in tight quarters.

    If you can get the bolts off the cover it would be a lot easier to work on that with a bench vise and some heat as Hap said.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 8,627
    If it was mine

    If it was mine I'd throw my 2' wrench on it with the handle straight up and just start pulling and see where I end up. If that didn't work, and didn't seem to move the boiler I may even try stepping up to a 4' wrench.

    Something tells me that plug will turn and once you get it moving the tight quarters shouldn't be too big of a deal.

    The easiest solution would probably be a huge socket and a large impact gun but I have a feeling you don't have one.

    Please keep in mind I'm a homeowner, not a pro.
    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

    Steam system pictures
    Central air project pictures
Sign In or Register to comment.


It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!