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Holes in Burnham V8 above waterline.

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Does anyone know the cause of these holes? This is a Burnham V8 steam boiler. The holes are ate the top of the boiler well above the waterline. This boiler failed after just 11 years of service. I'm in the process of replacing this with a Burnham MegaSteam. Is there something that I can do to prevent the new boiler from having similar problems? I have filtered well water. Until recently the boiler took on no more than 1 gallon of make-up water per year. I also use a programmable thermostat which "essentially" turns off the boiler for most of the daytime when no one is home and again at night while we sleep.

Any help would be appreciated. I can't afford a $7000-8000 replacement every 10-15 years.

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Comments

  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
    edited December 2014
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    Have your water tested for chlorides. Also how were you keeping track of make up water? Do you use a water softener?
  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    Has your well water ever been tested for chlorides (See graphitic corrosion)? Do you have an auto feed with a water meter? Are any cleaning products containing chlorides stored nearby?
    Maybe condensation formed during the off periods of your programmable thermostat, and rotted the top.
    Has the burner been serviced regularly? It looks older than 11years.--NBC
  • Don1450
    Don1450 Member Posts: 23
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    Never had the water tested for chlorides. Do they occur in well water??? I have and an auto feeder with digital readout that monitors make-up water. No cleaning products stored anywhere near the system. We've always had a service contract that included yearly cleanings. I plan on doing a better job of monitoring cleaning as I learn more about the process.
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
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    Certain places have high chlorides in the water. What is the PH of your water? Low PH makes the water acidic. Do you normally let the water drop low enough to trip off on low water and let the water feeder add water?
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
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    A lot of the well water between Boston and Providence has high chloride content and that will shorten the life of cast iron. Ask the town for any test data they have and get your water tested or that new boiler might not last.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Don1450
    Don1450 Member Posts: 23
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    What do you do if the water does contain chlorides???

    Or if the pH is to low???
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
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    You will most likely need to use a water treatment. Get your water tested and check out Rhomar products.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,544
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  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    Where are you located? If you live near the Coast, the high winds can carry ocean spray for long distances. They also use salt on roads for snow and ice control. "Salt" is Sodium Chloride. If the town does water testing and they have municipal water, their water is a public record. Basic water tests may only include the basics. PH, Iron, Sodium and Conductivity. Sometimes copper. The Federal EPA level for Sodium is 20 to 240 Mg/Liter. That level is drinkable. Its not considered a contaminant. Wherever you drill, sooner or later, you will hit salt water. If you have high sodium levels, you probably have chlorides too. You can't filter it out. It can only be removed by RO/Reverse Osmosis filtration. Which creates its own set of issues.

    You say you have your well water filtered? How? If you use a water softener to get rid of iron or other hardness, are you using salt/ Sodium Chloride? Some have an obsession about Salt and use Potassium Chloride instead of the usual "Softener Salt" with the Iron Out already in the bag. Notice that both have the word "Chloride" in them.

    More information required.
  • Don1450
    Don1450 Member Posts: 23
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    Thanks for the info. I have no water softener. By filtered I just meant that I have a whole house filter that removes particulate matter; mostly Manganese according to water test that I've had done. As far as chlorides, which I take it are dissolved and require RO filtration, what are the issues in removal that you refer to?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,779
    edited December 2014
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    When we bought out house in 2011 there was a V8 here with a rotted block and paperwork showing the block had already been replaced once. The block rotted out once in 3 years and again 5 years later. There are some pictures of the rotted V8 at my link in my signature.

    The causes I found were low PH and high amounts of makeup water due to a leaky system.

    I run Rectorseal Steamaster tablets to greatly reduce corrosion as well as keep my PH between 9 and 10. I also ensure water loss is kept to a minimum and I boil any water that is added immediately. I do this by manual feed only and by adding right after the burner starts. This is far more important than you could ever imagine as letting fresh water just sit in the boiler is more dangerous than how much water you're adding.

    With your new boiler I highly recommend checking your PH and using Rectorseal Steamaster orRhomar water treatment and manually add water before the autofeeder ever gets a chance just after the burner lights. The autofeeder should be viewed as nothing more than an emergency backup device and should never come on during normal use.
    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
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    Manganese is a nasty thing. How are you removing it?

    If you have water with higher levels of manganese, bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite) will cause the manganese to stain the clothes.

    You really need a comprehensive water analysis done. They're far cheaper than a new boiler.
  • Don1450
    Don1450 Member Posts: 23
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    My next step is a full analysis. I had it done several years ago and the only concern at that time was the manganese. There wasn't even much iron which surprised me. I don't know what the pH or chloride levels were because the analyzing lab did not list them as out of range for drinking and cooking. Now that I'm a touch more educated about steam these levels would be important. They just didn't stand out at the time because I was not aware of them being a problem with my boiler. The lab recommended a whole house filter with a sediment cartridge which I installed on all incoming water. You right it is a real pain if you don't filter it. It gets into all of the appliances and spigots and can clog them up pretty good. Also makes bleaching clothing problematic. We find that the sediment filter takes most of it out so that bleaching is not a problem. I change the filter once a month and have no problems with clogging. We usually run some Iron Out through the dishwasher and washing machine about once or twice a year whether it needs it or not. The only real evidence of it now is that our toilet bowl will develop a very light red stain that requires a quick brushing about once a week; its hardly noticeable unless your looking for it. Most of it is un-dissolved so it comes out easily with a filter.

    Now what about this chloride??? If I test and find its a problem, then can I use reverse osmosis filtration to remove it? What are the problems with this solution?
  • Mark N
    Mark N Member Posts: 1,115
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    I believe RO water is acidic.
  • Bio
    Bio Member Posts: 278
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    While RO water will normally have a ph of 7, if your city water supply has higher levels of chlorides you can use 5gal water like poland spring to fill up you boiler and use steamaster tablets or Scout which I use with very good results
    http://www.nestle-watersna.com/asset-library/Documents/PS_ENG.pdf
    http://www.alkalife.com/blog/is-your-bottled-water-acidic-neutral-or-alkaline/
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,779
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    There's also Rhomar's Steam-Pro Boiler Fluid which you just pour in instead of using water.

    Only thing I've been wondering about that is what do you do after losing some via steam? The chemicals stay behind so you can't just keep adding more boiler fluid, can you?

    Product info : http://www.rhomarwater.com/media/W-SteamPro.pdf
    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
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    "" I believe RO water is acidic. ""

    "RO" water (Reverse Osmosis) removes impurities out of water by injecting the water through a membrane which leaves the impurities on one side and the pure water on the other side. The water should be Neutral or around 7 Ph. Which isn't acidic nor alkaline. But it removes any substances that water needs to be water, And can create havoc in some plumbing systems by allowing stray electrical currents to look for places you don't want them to go.

    Hence, the laws of unintended consequences. No good deed goes unpunished (in nature). Often, with a full RO system to remove high salt levels (sodium chloride), you will need to add a neutralizing filter to add hardness back into the pure RO water to stop the corrosion.

    Sodium isn't considered a contaminant. I can't remember the term they use for it. Its usually expressed as a range below 20 PPM (Mg/Liter or above 240 PPM. With some vague warning about if you are on a sodium restricted diet, you need to check with your physician. If you are on a salt restricted diet where 20 PPM is a concern for you, you have far greater issues to be worrying about. Like maybe kidney dialysis and the one good day a week you have when you have one day off from the every other day of dialysis.
  • Bio
    Bio Member Posts: 278
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    RO water can be corrosive because of its higher dissolved oxigen and nothing else, which are boiled off on steam boilers

    RO machines removes organic and inorganic matter as well as bacteria, is Very low in conductance, a rejection % is used to monitor sodium level in dialysis which is 90% and above, meaning per 1gal of water that goes trough 90% will be rejected to the drain, the higher the % the better for the patients
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    I won't argue with whatever you say about RO. My experience was with some iron removal equipment I sold and installed. The provider had a big job in a large summer cottage with really high sodium and iron in the water. High Nitrates too because it was near the ocean and a farm. They were having "issues" with the system. They had me come and install a neutralizing filter because they said that they had to put some hardness back into the RO cleansed water to stop corrosion. So I did. It was along about that time that I understood that water treatment is a looser. People have bad water and expect to shell out a large sum of money and all will be just like their NYC City Water. It isn't. And it takes a lot of expensive maintenance to keep it that way.

    I'm only repeating what they told me. It made sense at the time. I did what I was told. The installers of the RO system wouldn't come back. It was a mess.

    Like high iron removal using Manganese Greensand. You use Potassium Permanganate to regenerate the Greensand. Ever see what happens when someone sells you some made in China Potassium Permanganate that was full of great big needle looking impurities instead of a black powder that stains everything purple? Before it stains it a dark brown that doesn't come off?

    Consider yourself blessed if you have good potable water.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited December 2014
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    See the attached link. http://www.swcc.gov.sa/files/assets/Research/Technical Papers/Corrosion/CORROSION BEHAVIOR OF MATERIALS IN RO WATER CONTAINING 250-3.pdf Based on a study, it does appear that RO water is much more corrosive to metals than typical water treatments of water for typical consumption. According to this study, metal with high chromium content had good resistance to the corrosive effects but that certainly isn't a boiler block. I'd shy away from it if it were me. But that's just my opinion.
  • Bio
    Bio Member Posts: 278
    edited December 2014
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    @Fred‌, This study involves seawater treatment which is not a typical water treatment, never the less in the US, I can only think of the armed forces having to use it when they are overseas, sea water is commonly very high in chlorides that's why they see with a 45,000 tds on the inlet and a low 10 TDS on the outlet, 45,000 tds will clog the RO system in no time in a typical water treatment

    Ro water contains a minimun level of chloride, a lot less then most homes across the country, if one must want to be certain, do a ro water analysis
    Performance and Quality control in the RO system is key in this study for what they're trying to achieve
  • Don1450
    Don1450 Member Posts: 23
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    I looked at this article and it seems that they are saying that the RO water is much more corrosive because of a high concentration of salts coming out of the system. But this is because they are discussing a desalination plant where super salty ocean water comes into the RO system. Starting with that high of a salt concentration going in, they are understandably seeing still rather high salt content after the process.

    Here is a much simpler explanation of the RO process that anyone can understand:
    puretecwater.com/what-is-reverse-osmosis.html
    In this article it correctly says that 99% of ALL contaminants are removed from the water yielding nearly pure H2O. The only thing that the RO system is really bad at removing is carbon dioxide. Its this that increases the corrosive quality of RO water because it quickly turns into carbonic acid. This dramatically lowers the pH of the water to well below 7.

    So getting back to steam boilers and corrosion it would seem that a good RO system could be used to create very clean make-up water for a steam boiler, but it would require a treatment increase pH to above 7 before entering the boiler. This could be accomplished using small amounts of baking soda for example. With such a system all that would remain would be to deal with oxygen which is easily removed by immediately increasing the temperature of the make-up water to above 212 degrees F.

    So the steps could be:
    1.) Use Reverse Osmosis to remove all contaminants (mostly Chlorides).
    2.) Adjust pH to around 9 to counteract Carbonic Acid due to high CO2 that remains after RO filtration.
    3.)Quickly bring make-up water to the boiling point to eliminate oxygen.

    Am I missing anything???
  • Bio
    Bio Member Posts: 278
    edited December 2014
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    I think you got it, for ph some people like the Steamaster tablets to keep the boiler rust free and ph between 8-9, two tablets usually does it, too many will cause the water to surge out of the boiler, I used it my self in the past
    I'm now using Scout, I keep the ph above 9, no surging at all and keeps water crystal clear
    I do water treatment and take care of two ro systems that makes 16gal/min among other things and I have yet to see ph to be lower than 7, get your self a digital ph meter for more accurate readings, ph strips will work as well

    http://www.oatey.com/doc/scout.pdf
    http://ows.rectorseal.com/product-data/steamaster-tablets/dssteamaster.pdf
    These can be found at supplyhouse.com

  • max540
    max540 Member Posts: 2
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    My 9 yro Burnham V8 (w/ city water) just failed in a similar fashion. After doing much googling on the topic, seems that Burnham had issues w/ V7 and V8 blocks. Perhaps your issue is not corrosion?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,779
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    max540 said:

    My 9 yro Burnham V8 (w/ city water) just failed in a similar fashion. After doing much googling on the topic, seems that Burnham had issues w/ V7 and V8 blocks. Perhaps your issue is not corrosion?

    You'll find similar complaints about almost any modern boiler block.

    The problem is corrosion and even if the V7 and V8 blocks had issues, corrosion is what caused them to rott. With proper water treatment there would likely be almost no V7 or V8 failures.
    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
  • NYplumber
    NYplumber Member Posts: 503
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    Did you ever verify the boiler was firing at the correct btu rating? What size meter is in the home?
    :NYplumber:
  • max540
    max540 Member Posts: 2
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    ChrisJ said:

    max540 said:

    My 9 yro Burnham V8 (w/ city water) just failed in a similar fashion. After doing much googling on the topic, seems that Burnham had issues w/ V7 and V8 blocks. Perhaps your issue is not corrosion?

    The problem is corrosion and even if the V7 and V8 blocks had issues, corrosion is what caused them to rott. With proper water treatment there would likely be almost no V7 or V8 failures.
    I see, Perhaps i should have said "Seems V8s are particularly sensitive to corrosion?" The megasteam literature claims an "industrys only" 5 year "Waterside Corrosion Warranty". Just curious, can you tell from Don1450's pics if the failure is "waterside"? Are all / most corrision failures for these types of systems waterside? Thanks ...
    dlipter
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,578
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    Maybe the corrosion from chloride containing products close to the boiler, where their vapors can be inhaled by the burner, would be on the fireside.--NBC