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A great customer/tech service experience with Burnham.

JohnNY Member Posts: 3,229
I've been having a lot of trouble with surging in a Burnham IN4 my guys installed a couple weeks ago.
My guys skimmed it. I came back and skimmed it again...Together about 10 hours of skimming.
Still surging. I added tablets.
Still. Freaking. Surging.

I called Burnham tech support and asked them if they had any advice.

Ron and Dave described an alternate skimming procedure to me that Ron said "Never takes more than an hour, and always gets the job done."

I tried it. It worked like a charm. No more surging.

This little boiler drove me crazy.

Here's their method:
1. Fire the boiler until it first begins to boil.
2. Shut the power to the boiler
3. Put a 6” nipple in the skim valve while the boiler begins to cool down.
4. Put a bucket under the nipple, have another bucket ready
5. Crack open the manual fill valve
6. Allow water to flow out of the skim port no more than the width of your pinky finger.
7. Skim like this until the water runs cool.
8. Put the boiler back into service.
Do not fire the boiler a second time.
Do not ever shut the skim valve or fill valve during this process. If you do, you’ll have to start over.

The difference is I've always run the burner periodically to keep the water hot and I tend to pipe the skim port to a drain whenever possible.
Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
Consulting & Troubleshooting
Heating in NYC or NJ.


  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,736
    LOL I must have gotten lucky...you described exactly how I skimmed mine! I don't have a Burnham I have a Weil Mclain, but that's exactly how I did mine. I never re-fired the burner the water always seemed to be at least warm so I left it go. Nice tip for everyone. We should get a library started of skimming methods on here. Seems like there are at least 3 that I have read about. This method, the "normal" method and there is also an "express" skim some have talked about recently.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • We need to work on auto-skimming piping layouts, so that the float LWCO traps the oil, and tell the owner to blow it down every day for a week, then every other day for the second week--etc, etc.
    Let's put our best brains to work on this, to save all this time for real piping work!--NBC
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    edited December 2014
    I agree NBC. I've kept your piping diagram from last Fall to make these changes some time over the summer. I think those suggestions involved a port in the equalizer so I made sure to use a union there. :)
    Does anyone have experience with SFin's integral skimming design? I wonder how it works, and why they don't use it on all their boilers?
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,060
    Steamhead pointed out that the Dunkirk sidetapers which are 2 1/2" ports, ( that is where they recommend the tee for skimming), however the pushnipples are quite a bit smaller, this is obvious as you look into the port. So he pointed out that if you skim out thru the 2 1/2" nipple you would only get water from that closest section. The bottom of the 2 1/2" skim nipple is lower than the bottom of the push nipple, so that running a slow stream of water there would be none going over the top of the rest of the pushnipples. All that being said what size of bell coupling (installed on the outside run of the tee) would cause the water to flood over and thru all push nipples and still provide the effective flow?
    2 1/2 x 1 1/2 or.....2 1/2 x 1 1/4??
    I'm 140 miles from the site and the homeowner is washing & skimming the boiler thru just the 2 1/2 nipple for now. It would be good to have cleaning done before anymore adjusts are made. It has improved so far with no short cycling running at 10 oz of pressure.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,060
    If I were there at the boiler I would try to measure the actual ID of the push nipples by inserting various sized of pipes inside. If by chance anyone has their skim plug out on this design they could go for the measurement. LOL. I'm guessing 1 1/2" would be good but I recall looking inside and they looked to be pretty small ID. Slow skimming seems to be more necessary after considering everything must float to the top and then travel sideways thru the tiny tunnel to daylight without disturbing the oil "slick".
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,229

    JohnNY said:

    The difference is I've always run the burner periodically to keep the water hot and I tend to pipe the skim port to a drain whenever possible.

    My belief is that the issue is the piping to a drain. If a hose connection is used and the surface water needs to pass through a 5/8" opening, the capability of success is far more limited than if the boiler is skimmed via a 1.5" or a 2.5" opening.

    I've dispensed with the hose to a drain and now use the bucket again via the 1.5" tapping. The rate of flow is increased to 5 GPH and I might increase it again to 7.5 or maybe even 10 GPH. Again, these numbers are based upon the 1.5" tapping. If you have 2.5", you can probably go faster.
    I would not try to skim through a ⅝" hose. I piped 1.5" copper from my skim port valve to my drain.

    NYC Licensed plumber here. Just saying.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    That method works well for me too, John.
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    I've had very good success with fast/hot skimming. It sure saves a lot of revisits. My method is usually 5 gallons of slow cold skimming, followed by four or five buckets of fast hot skimming. I can usually get it to an acceptable water quality within an hour.
  • kevin_58
    kevin_58 Member Posts: 61
    Once a boiler surges there is a lot of oil in the wet returns so I first flush them out then skim. I take out the main air vents ,put a boiler drain in the vent tapping then run a hose from boiler drain to laundry faucet or water heater drain valve and flush out repeating for each main then skim as Jonny NY states works every time
  • kevin_58
    kevin_58 Member Posts: 61
    Oh its obvious but I failed to mention when flushing returns you have to put another hose from boiler drain on return to sump pump pit or sewer clean out.