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Well, we got a leaky boiler... LGB 7 - update 10.13.17, 4 pm - wanded..

MilanD
MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
edited October 2017 in Strictly Steam
Well gents, on 1/10 I installed the water meter for our boiler, along with 5 micron filter - to finally dial in how much water we are using and help out a bit with filtration as to get to best practices. Last few years we had our backflow preventer by the boiler acting up and dumping water randomly, so I shut down the water line to the boiler and went about it once a week to let the make-up water tank fill as needed during the day, and then again shut off the boiler fill valve in front of the backflow preventer. Boiler didn't seem like it was that much water, but by about every Thursday it would top-off as needed and I'd shut it off... and we were good for another week.

So this year, after reading Dan's articles here and all the discussions that I follow, I decided to install the filter and the water meter before the boiler, and a pressure reducer valve for the entire building. PRV brought our psi from about 140 psi overnight on the water main to 40 psi. This solved the backflow issue.

So, after 2 weeks with the new water meter, and after 1 blow-down --- 44 liters went in the condensate return tank, or 11 gallons - about 2 times 5.5 gals... I said to my self last Friday when the 2nd 5.5 gallons went it - uh-uh, this ain't good. I left it running this weekend to see if more water will be called for, we had 1.5 day of building use. Condensate return tank is about 2/3 full and is usually 3/4, so even though new water was not taken in, I knew some was used since last Friday.

In the meantime last week I checked all the piping, and rads everywhere, all dry. In the process I discovered one riser pipe 'missing'... huh? It went into the ceiling in the basement, but no trace on it up stairs... turns out it's buried in our WALL going to 3rd level (skipping the stage in our auditorium - I think someone didn't like seeing the rad riser there so the pipe was buried in the outside wall going, feeding the room above the auditorium)... To keep you in suspense -- it's dry as I'm not seeing plaster falling off or paint bubbling... nothing diripping... yet... so that wasn't it either for now.

So, as I was thinking about it over the weekend, I realized that the other day I heard some hissing noises from the boiler that I can't remember hearing before. Being a musician and listening to hum and tone of the boiler and burners over the years (gas valves, etc - overall hum of it when everything is fired up), I definitely noticed a new sound. Sounded like a water line sound when a faucet is open somewhere. Sssshhhhhh... So with this much water going in in a week, flooding of boiler it was.

And, I got this...

https://www.amazon.com/photos/share/mwFH4WdR9cDduC6QlwRMtThOnBWU9sRudOmihRaAHdW

Leak is right as the water level passes the top of the sight glass, towards the o-ring between the last 2 sections... but probably a hole up there. When the boiler runs and steam is being made, with head slightly inside the draft hood, hissing is clearly heard... And I am certain this sprung up in the past month. I spent a lot of time around the boiler with vaporstat install and balancing all the mains, of which I posted elsewhere on the board. I definitely did not hear hissing noise until just recently. We were running on between 8-12 oz on pressure (as I was balancing everything I was bumping it up from 8 to 10, to now 12 oz.)

Midwest Mechanical techs are coming in first thing in the am. LGB 7 comes, and I just checked, with a 10 year warranty on casting. I'm paying labor most likely, unless we work something out. You can see the boiler looks really clean otherwise, and I cleaned the burners this fall, they were rust-free and just needed a nice cleaning. There was no soot on them or anywhere in the boiler, and from the video, you can see the castings look really clean. I few pins do seem to be missing from the lowest ends, but no rust or any other deterioration as you can see.

This being the 7th year for the boiler, we'll see what's what tomorrow. I am now wondering if we should just eat our losses and get a new boiler one installed or fix this one and go from there. I'm leaning towards fixing. At least that way we can inspect everything as best as we can once the last section is off, and I am going to get one of those flex cameras on a goose neck to go inside the boiler once we open everything up, to see if I can look inside the castings too.

I looked up our municipal water report, and it doesn't list the "chlorides" but Vinyi Chloride at <0.5 ppm.
Total report is here, if anyone cares to see what's in it. Nothing else stands out to me. I'll call the water department and ask for just "chlorides" (as in salt run-off...). It's a small city and we all know eachother here so if they have it, I'm sure they'll share. We get the water from deep wells and our little town is known for some of the best water around here - unlike city of Cincinnati which cleans water out of Ohio river... I'll ask the techs about doing the water test too or if one of you can recommend a test that's good, please share.

http://wyomingohio.gov/download/Water Department/Consumer Confidence Report/2014 Consumer Confidence Report.pdf

What's your all take? New boiler, repair this one, or what? I know we have to find the cause. We had failed traps over the past several years so this may have added to the water intake. Again, I'd say it was at that 7-10 gal/week after the blow-down for a while, blow-down being at about 3-4 gallons... so 4-6 gals of water lost per week in the past. Does sound high, now that I typed it...

Thanks. I'll keep you all posted what comes of this tomorrow.

Cheers! And yay! I'm glad I found it as quickly as I did.
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Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,501
    Oh dear. That's not good. Not good at all... but I'll let the pros opine on replace or not.

    On the riser in the wall -- be happy it's steam. That doesn't freeze!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    MilanD
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    @Hatterasguy @Jamie Hall

    Thanks for your input! We'll see tomorrow what transpires. Midwest guys do big jobs and little jobs and I am sure everyone's bottom line is the bottom line. We had great relationship over the years.

    Do you have any insights into LGB long-term quality? I was inder the impression these are work horses? Our old one lasted for 20+ years, and probably could have lasted even longer had it not sat for 8 years while building was vacant. I remember having condensate pump stuck on that old lgb 11 and it being flooded when it was 20+ years old and it didn't have any leaks at that time. My hope is this leak is on the seal. Let's hope that's what it is.

    I'm also going to look over our gas usage over the past 7 years and compare it to old boiler use too. Something ought to stand out.

    Thanks again!
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    edited January 2017
    Looks like it's the end section, which is where i've usually seen these leak. it's almost like the end sections are made thinner?
    I've replaced LGB sections on 5 year old boilers, if the boiler is over 10 I recommend they replaced the boiler. At 7 you're right in the middle.. What connects to that side? return? I don't see any controls on that side.

    I installed my first LGB I think 20 or 21 years ago and customer still has me service it. all original sections. youngest LGB i've replaced was 8 years old, and that was due to a leaking wet return that they only found because the sump pump died and the basement flooded. MGBs had some issues that I guess they corrected with the LGB. I'd recommend a WM in a heartbeat.
    MilanD
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    > @Abracadabra said:
    > Looks like it's the end section, which is where i've usually seen these leak. it's almost like the end sections are made thinner?
    > I've replaced LGB sections on 5 year old boilers, if the boiler is over 10 I recommend they replaced the boiler. At 7 you're right in the middle.. What connects to that side? return? I don't see any controls on that side.

    @Abracadabra that's the equaliser and the sight glass side. Nothing else on it. We'll have to also move the condensate return tank, that's a filler motor flange and 2 unions. I figure 1 day tops.

    So should I go with a different boiler if we are to replace? 7 years seems like awfully short life span. I'm a little ticked off, truth be told.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    If they offer the boiler I'd replace the entire thing...new and old dont always work in my opinion...why chance it if they give you a complete new block..
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    Oh No! and only Seven years old. As Hatt says, I suspect the contractor won't tell you what he can do until he gets an authorization from WM. If it's a seal between sections, replacing that seal makes sense. If it's an actual hole in one of the sections, it makes the decision a lot more difficult. A hole would cause me to lean towards replacing the entire boiler (or block if they will provide a new block and you pay the install costs). From my perspective, the rest of the block has been subject to whatever caused the rot in the section that might have a hole in it. Let's hope it's a seal but I have my doubts.
  • Kahooli
    Kahooli Member Posts: 112
    GCWW water report for 2011 had chlorides between 24-68ppm depending on the source. I haven't found more recent data. Where does Wyoming pump its water from?
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    > @Kahooli said:
    > GCWW water report for 2011 had chlorides between 24-68ppm depending on the source. I haven't found more recent data. Where does Wyoming pump its water from?

    http://wyomingohio.gov/download/Water Department/Consumer Confidence Report/2014 Consumer Confidence Report.pdf

    Not Cincinnati water. Deep wells then treated. I emailed wyo Waterworks director this evening and will follow up with a phone call in the am.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,501
    Vinyl chloride is irrelevant -- it's an organic compound, not a free chloride at all. The report you noted doesn't report chlorides -- or hardness of total dissolved solids, which are also relevant to boilers -- at all.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited January 2017
    @Jamie Hall

    Thanks for looking at it too. I just read the small print, water hardness, 183mg/L, or 10.7 grains per gallon. I am yet to study up on this whole water issue, but quick glance through the Wikipedia says hard water kills boilers... And 180+ mg/L is considered a very hard water.

    So this is it for sure. Which means this boiler is probably dead. What a bummer.

    So, does reverse osmosis of the water do the job, or ion exchange resin filter, or both, and then to start adding steamaster for good measure? Or should I get a pallet of that boiler water thing? Chemistry is one thing I never learned. It's like reading Swedish.
    dennis53
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,501
    Water that hard -- if you are using a good bit of it, which you were, isn't very nice to boilers. It also isn't very nice to water heaters! The question is... what to do about it. Ion exchange softening works very well, and you might consider it. It's pretty simple. However, I'm not really keen on it for boilers, as it does raise the chloride level somewhat. How much water does that boiler take? I would consider for my initial charge on the new boiler getting a few cheap five gallon carboys of "spring" water from the grocery store. Doesn't have to be San Pellegrino! Most stores sell bottled water. Then use ion exchange softened water for your hot water heater and for what little boiler makeup you will need.

    Reverse osmosis is wonderful -- but if anything it is a little too soft, oddly enough, and it isn't inexpensive.

    I like you comment about chemistry and Swedish! At one point in a long and checkered career I actually ran a water chemistry lab. I know what you mean...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    Latest update, 12 pm EST: we had Midwest here this morning at 8:30, including the owner. 2 installers are now here and taking the last section off. Winstel Supply has this section in stock (19 of them, actually - wonder why so many...).

    Plan is to remove the section and look inside to decide what to do next. My fear of the leak just being first of many to come will be weighted against scaling inside the boiler. I was told that, once in a while, sand is stuck inside the cast and creates a pin-hole leak. We have a pin-hole.

    Here's a video with the leak exposed, above the top row of the pins:

    https://www.amazon.com/photos/share/0YSheHFagAgH0NeYAPVaIG2v1gIBJGQfSRNk7NahEUz
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    So, here are some videos of the inside of the failed section and of the rest of the boiler.

    Thoughts?

    All the pics and videos taken are here:
    https://www.amazon.com/photos/share/r0N8BVjMULDKHbYP8AkIoRJu0R1AdoZDX6zPFSmWDB4

    Inside sections on the rest of the boiler look pretty decent. You can see it's not all clear and there is build-up.

    On the failed section there is a big buildup on the opposite side of the pin leak. You can see a big big mound of scale right there.

    Is the rest of the sections build-up you see here pretty typical? Will stamaster tabs help descale this, or should I try descaling at this point? IF so, what to use?

    In conclusion, to my naked eye, the rest of the sections look pretty decent.

    Any thoughts from the rest of y'all?
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    If they have 19 of those on hand, there is likely more to the story than they are telling. I suspect WM knows they had a bad run of those end sections. I would let them get it all back together for you and then maybe wand the boiler out and decide how best to address the water hardness you and @Jamie Hall spoke of above. The last thing you want to do is be in there way, in the middle of winter.
    wcs5050
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    Water hardness is what I do need to work on. I am just confused what exactly to do. Bummer is that no one seems to want to tell you how to do it best, for fear of taking blame if the thing fails. Regular softener replaces NaCl for of CaCl2 or MgCl2, but that too is not good for boilers, right? Or is it good? Can just softener do the trick? I'm thinking - not.

    So, I think I'm going to add one of the 2 filters, either the reversed osmosis filter or ion exchange plus steamaster behind a softener... what do you all think?

    @Jamie Hall idea of spring water in 5 gal jugs is not bad at all for starters... I'll need 16 of them to start with between 40 gal in the boiler and some 40 in the fill tank.

    I think with this repair, we should see no more than one jug a week with weekly blowdowns...

    So, thoughts on filtration anyone?

  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    I added more pics and videos of inside of the sections, to the best I could do sticking my hand with the phone inside the castings.

    https://www.amazon.com/photos/share/L7megKVdhkD0YC2jfWjY57IOKmsU5RhD3IHG0hIKFpU
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited January 2017
    2nd from the end section has similar mounding build-up:
    see at 0:17 of this video

    https://www.amazon.com/photos/share/nm654Yr0tN8OqJjhJBURdT3RFthufpxSqKKbcxMw2Lr

    Edit: that was the other end section with the buildup.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    Maybe I'm not understanding the seriousness of the issue but from my perspective, this is a water/steam vessel and after seven years of use, it looks pretty darn good to me. It's cast iron for crying out loud. It's going to have some reaction to the water and whatever natural elements are in that water. In this case, knowing that it has been used for seven years, I would not change anything. In another 14 years maybe there will be twice as much additional buildup. So what? I can't see that that would be enough to have a significant affect on how the boiler runs. Drain it every couple years and wand it out and run it until it dies. Sometimes we create our own problems! JMHO! To me the real issue is the quality of the materials and the castings that come from the suppliers. Let's focus on getting them to deliver a quality product. As it is now, we are helping support a whole nother industry, being the chemical industry, which I bet many of the boiler makers have huge investments in.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,501
    Actually ion exchange softeners replace the Mg+2 and Ca+2 ions with Na+ ions. They don't do much about the carbonate. Thing is that the sodium is soluble in hot water, and the magnesium and calcium aren't. The problem is that they use sodium chloride (NaCl) to regenerate -- and thus raise the chloride level.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    Long day - we're back and running. That last section is replaced. Boiler was flooded and no leaks on the new seal. From looking into inside of it, looks pretty good to me. Granted, I did not wand it, but I've blown down the thing weekly. Religiously.

    We just did a water test. Hardness at 170 ppm. PH at 8.6.

    What Bob from the Midwest tells me is that this water and ph should be just fine for the boiler... the guy is a chemist by training. You can see, and I agree as do all the 3 techs plus the owner, plus Bob, that this looks amazingly good, inside and out. Clean fire side, and inside, nothing out of the ordinary.

    I'll get a few steamaster tablets and pop them in for the TDS. As to filtration, I need to figure out what to do, as per @Fred, darn thing should run as is. BUT, and here's the but, I don't feel like spending another $xx.xxx installing a new one in less then 10 years, so if that means a reverse osmosis system for $200 that will take care of the TDS, chlorides and alike, well - it's a cheap investment, don't you think? Maybe do ion replacement AND RO. Plus steamaster... Also, WM can't tell us then our water was 'bad'...

    Lastly, the pictures are going to WM. I'm fully expecting them to honor the warranty on the casting. I'm still out 3 tech's 6 hours of labor for, for what everyone so far think is, a prematurely failed section.

    I am only grateful that the company like the Midwest is here first thing in the am, and got it done in a day.

  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    #1 - The supply company has lots of end sections because they probably sell boilers knocked down. They can use the sections for repair or to provide complete boilers.

    #2 - I hope you skimmed?
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    @Abracadabra

    We let it run as heat was off all day. Skimm is on for tomorrow. So far, the water was not dirty and no surging in the sight glass.

    We'll see in the morning how it looks. .

    Btw, what do you think of the inside of the boiler? Typical for 7 yo? Better, worse?
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited January 2017
    We didn't get to skimming today. A bit of piping had to be redone due to one corroded nipple on the equalizer which I egged when tightening, plus I wanted to rearrange union on the feeder run to prevent us from having to empty the feeder next time we work on equalizer, which all led us to having to then figure out why all the pipes are not aligning with new fittings of same size (??). By the time this was all done, we had to fire things up to warm up the building for pm classes. But, water bobbing in the sight glass is nice and smooth, there are no surges, and the only thing I'm not sure is if the sight glass is drippy because of me washing it before putting it back in, or bc 'the baby' still needs skimming.

    We finally installed the hi-low control for low fire mode (67% of high!). It was super super easy install and we now have 2-stage firing which works beautifully. Had I know how to read electrical diagrams I could have done this myself, but, oh well. LGB literature is extremely vague... But, it was nice talking to the electrician Jim from Midwest Mechanical who originally wired the boiler 7 years ago. Turns out our boiler was his first job with the company.

    I'll post about what we did on the original thread. I'm esp. thanking @Gordo and @Hatterasguy for pointing me this direction, as well as everyone else who partook in my initial 'how to delay firing' thread. There were some good ideas and I learned a heck of a lot from everyone. Thank you!

    Finally, I am quite positive our LGB is the first one in greater Cincinnati that's wired for 2 stages. Here's the tree. One nipple left to allow for return of the 30 psi gauge monstrosity, should this be required at some later time.


  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    I just wanted to reiterate Midwest Mechanical in Cincinnati is hands down, the best mechanical, industrial and commercial boiler company in town. Guys had me running by 4 pm. Anyone in Cincinnati with a larger boiler, or any type of hydronic system, look them up. They are also all super nice people, from the owner down. Just wow.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited January 2017
    Btw, got a note from the waterworks. 2016 chlorides on the finished water was 67.6 mg/l.

    I now have a call out to see how best to treat it before the boiler. I'll see what the water plant director says. I figured, if anyone knows water, it would be people from the Waterworks. No bs with them.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    Here's another update. Boiler was skimmed twice, for about 2 hours each time. Sight glass was clean for a few days, but developed some condensate above the water line on the glass, so it'll need a little more skimming. Operation seems fine nonetheless. There are a few steamaster tabs in there now.

    I'm now wondering now how to best descale the boiler. It's not bad looking. After it being opened, there may be a bit more of the buildup on the other end section that I could see, so I'd like to knock it down. Planning on calling Rohmer for advice on their descaler. Anyone here having suggestions on what to use? I found an old post here about using some acid - looking at safety sheet - can't be poured down the drain, so that's out. There are few biodegradable options, so I'll look into those too. Anyone used something they liked?

    Finally, all the water filters and fittings are here. The charcoal prefilter and the RO filter with pp, ci ro and ion filter. This one: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00GJCE2X4/ref=yo_ii_img?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Lye (sodium hydroxide) is on the way for adjusting pH up to 9.5 after the RO filtration, and I'm looking into sodium sulfite for O2 scavenging in the condensate return tank.

    For O2 scavenging, I'm still looking at what the ppm concentration needs to be for Na2SO3. I read between 30 and 60, but for process boilers. I may not need it if I continue running the boiler with steamaster tablets or 8-way. To test the water I have acquired tds, pH, chloride and O2 testers... Not sure if I'll need to worry about the carbonic acid.

    Anyhow, plan is to descale, clean and then refil the boiler with distilled water. Then, adjust pH to 9.5 then, measure and monitor for tds, pH, chlorodes, and O2 saturation on the condensate. System has not used any new water for the past 10 days or so, aside from 3 gal of distilled water added after the last blowdown. So, the system is no longer losing any water.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,152
    You mentioned that you had bad steam traps for a while before they were repaired. The added water could have contributed to the failure. Make sure there is no steam coming out of the condensate tank vent
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    > @EBEBRATT-Ed said:
    > You mentioned that you had bad steam traps for a while before they were repaired. The added water could have contributed to the failure. Make sure there is no steam coming out of the condensate tank vent

    Thanks Ed. Yeah... I did repaired the traps this fall. Before I knew better I thought steam out of vent is normal... real example of "knowledge is power"... nothing leaking anywhere, no steam from tank vent. I had a real "duh" moment.

    Now is time to see if I can nurse this thing along and remove the buildup now there and keep the water as chemically neutral as possible.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    Be careful that you understand the potential interactions between the chemicals you are adding to that boiler. Acids/lye, steamaster tablets, whatever may have some unexpected consequences. Not that I would know but I'm always leery of mixing chemicals without a complete understanding of how they play together.
    BobCMilanD
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited February 2017
    > @Fred said:
    > Be careful that you understand the potential interactions between the chemicals you are adding to that boiler. Acids/lye, steamaster tablets, whatever may have some unexpected consequences. Not that I would know but I'm always leery of mixing chemicals without a complete understanding of how they play together.

    As always, thank you @Fred for looking out. I've been reading quite a bit on this subject of water quality from a variety of sources, as well as had some back and fourth with @Larry on the thread about water softener for boilers (link at the end of this post). My understanding is that lye (sodium hydoxide) for getting the pH up to 9.5 is ok and better than soda ash, due to formation of HO- vs HO3-. Formation of HO3 from soda ash is more corrosive vs. HO. Sodium Sulfite in make up tank for O2 scavenging is also ok. The trick is to keep the numbers correct through monitoring. This being said, after a few weeks of reading about all this, my hope is that I won't need any of the chemicals after the install of RO filter and use of Stamaster alone. Maybe for O2 in condensate, but perhaps not even that.

    In the meantime, I have acquired the chloride chem test kit, O2 chem test kit, digital tds meter and pH meter, and litmus paper. I plan on getting the sulfites kit, depending on where O2 is after all is done, and if I need to add sodium sulfite, to mesure it at 30-50 ppm. With all these, I should be able to keep an eye on things. I also suspect that filtering and steamaster alone will keep the condition of no chlorides, no tds, keep the pH at 9.5 range and keep O2 to a minimum.

    What I know now is that my water has high mineral content and that RO will take care of that issue. All the rest of chemical properties, I suspect Stamaster will take care of. I also have fixed all traps and issues with prior water loss. There is no more steam escaping anywhere.

    I also know now that the boiler has quite a scale buildup on the inside and will need descaling. This will be a first order of business. I believe the remaining 6 old boiler sections will need some help before they fail prematurely, esp. if I want to have them not fail too soon.

    My only trepidation is if descaling should aggravate any potential pitting inside the boiler to the point of section failure in line of the one replaced. I'm thinking on this still. That being said, I lean towards believing (there is no real way to know for sure) the descaling will be fine. Other buildup is smaller and the one blister I observed in the videos posted earlier is under the water line and smaller than the one on the section that was replaced. Thus, I'm hoping it is not as damage causing as the one removed, and that descaling will only restore the inside back to clean surface and reduce otherwise higher iron temperatures around those build-up spots, thus in fact - extending the life of it. I guess we'll see if it will stop the possible pin-hole leak from forming around where the current scale blisters are.

    CURRENT WATER QUALITY: after a full new refill with tap water when the section was replaced, and 3 or so hours of skimming of some 10 gallons over 2 days, with 2 steamasters in there, my tds is at 269 per my electronic tds tester. After boiler water cools down to 20*C, the same water showed 220 hardness, down from 269 from 70*C hot boiler water. I think this is bc of solids settling to the bottom of the glass after water sits and cools off a bit. Not sure if this is the tester, and if tds turns into suspended solid and drops to the bottom of the cup with temp decrease. At any rate, for all practical purposes, I'm calling tds 269. That's too high. 220 is too high too. Store-bought distilled water is at 3 ppm, as is my condensate receiver water, consistently. Hardness from the city report is 181, and about 220 at my faucet, according to my tester. Bob measured 170 a few weeks back. So water is as good as it will be coming from the city. For boiler, not good. Chlorides, per city, are 67.6 mg/L, (didn't test yet from boiler or faucet). I tested pH in the boiler with 2 Steamaster tablets, it's at 9.3, so Steamaster will be able to raise pH without need for sodium hydoxide (lyme).

    PROPER WATER QUALITY: Per reading and researching, to operate properly, tds needs to be under 100, and chlorides, if I remember it correctly, 30mg/L or under, and pH 9.5.

    NEXT STEPS: Given my experience with the brand new fill, 2 skims of about 10 gal total, 2 Steamasters in there now, and with all the tds I now have, 6 years of some larger make-up water use, I believe I will need to descale this boiler. Get all scale buildup that's on the inside out of there will be a must. I'm leaning towards using Rydlyme. I talked to the manufacturer yesterday and was told that 25/75 dilution circulated over 2 hours should do it - best to look inside if possible after 2 hours, which I will do with a scope camera. If 2 hours do it, no need to do it longer, if more needed, add another 30 min or so and check again. Then one nice thing with this Rydlyme is that it doesn't need to be neutralized. It can be rinsed out a few times and disposed with water down the drain, is not hazardous to handle, is bio-degradable, and is also certified for treating even the potable water vessels.

    After descaling and filling with RO water, pH will be 6.5- 6.9 and 3 tds. This pH definitely needs to be brought up and steamaster should do it based on my current observation of boiler water pH after Steamaster use.

    FYI: Steamaster tablet adds the following chemicals/use:

    Sodium Nitrite - corrosion protection
    Sodium Triphosphate - scale prevention and binding of Ca and Mg into a dissolved solid and sludge
    Sodium Metasilicate - various properties, from pH increase to cleaning
    Citric Acid - cleaner/descaler...

    Last note of potential interest: this section replacement took 36 man hours, plus pipes and fittings cost ($270), plus possibly the section itself, although it's still under 10 year warranty and I'm expecting it be covered, regardless of the harsh water...

    Here are the 2 threads which were starting points for formulating the treatment going forward.

    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/113289/descaling-steam-boilers

    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/161080/water-softener-and-steam-boiler#latest
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    I'd be careful what chemicals you use on the boiler and confirm with WM that they are compatible with the seals on the sections.
    MilanD
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited February 2017
    > @Abracadabra said:
    > I'd be careful what chemicals you use on the boiler and confirm with WM that they are compatible with the seals on the sections.

    Will do. Thanks! Chem manufacturer as well as data sheet says it's safe on all metals, except corrugated steal,. Also safe on rubber, silicone... I have the old seal rings, may dunk them in a solution for a few hours to see what happens.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    WM LGB uses elastomer port seals. I honestly don't know what type of elastomer is used, and none of the techs at WM have been able to tell me. The concern is more of a long-term issue rather than a short-term dunk issue. I don't expect that the seals will have a noticeable issue within a few hours. With certain chemicals the bonds in the elastomer may weaken, shortening their life and the issue may not appear until years later. A call to WM will let you know if they would approve the use of any chemicals you want to use.
    MilanD
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited February 2017
    Good enough. Will call in the morning. Thanks @Abracadabra ! One can never be too careful. I'm fully expecting another section to go soon, frankly speaking. With that in mind, I'm more curious if I can reverse the buildup and thus delay any future failures. This of course I won't know unless the boiler keeps going without failures after the cleaning.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    Well, here we go folks:

    According to WM tech support, for descaling LGB steamers, use one of the following ratios:

    Sodium Phosphate 1lb/50 gal
    Or
    Sodium Carbonate 1lb/30 gal
    Or
    Sodium Hydroxyde (Lye) 1lb/50gal

    Bring to 180*F for 2 hours. Don't let water go to steam.

    Flush, refil and check pH. They want pH in 7-8.5 range...

    Nice and warm day today. I have 5 lb of lye sitting around. I'll report back.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited February 2017
    Btw, for anyone mixing any chemicals, make sure you know what you are doing!!! Lye and water create a strong exothermic reaction and has to be done slowly, carefully, under physical protection (weat goggles, mask, gloves...), and with good fresh supply of air. Never, ever, add water to lye. Always lye to water, slowly, genly stirring, and watching the solution temps.
    Grallert
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited February 2017
    Does this alkaline treatment make sense to you all? I was under impression that you need some acid like product to descale the boiler.

    I'm sure the above won't hurt it, but will it descale??
  • gschallert
    gschallert Member Posts: 170
    MilanD said:

    Does this alkaline treatment make sense to you all? I was under impression that you need some acid like product to descale the boiler.



    I'm sure the above won't hurt it, but will it descale??

    I've used Lye to strip my cast iron pans as the first step when they need to be cleaned and re-seasoned.
    MilanD
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    This is the bulletin from WM on how to clean steam boiler. 2001.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    @gschallert

    I get that lye removes the rust. I can't find anywhere what effect it has on calcium and magnesium deposit and descaling of them. If WM bulletin says use either TSP, or these other chemicals, it says for cleaning them. Not descaling.