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Nature of the New Steam Beast

HeatingHelp Administrator Posts: 598
edited October 2017 in THE MAIN WALL
Nature of the New Steam Beast

Steam systems ain’t what they used to be, or at least so it would seem to some homeowners. The fact of the matter is that many retrofit steam boilers – under certain conditions – aren’t lasting as long as their predecessors. Naturally, it begs the question, “Why?”

Read the full story here


  • New England SteamWorks
    New England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,502
    Well, there is one exception: MegsSteam.

    Here is a discussion from 10 years ago from Glenn Stanton (now passed, rest his soul) of Burnham:

    The following is a copy of a post I placed on OilTechTalk to an individual that has had more than of his share of internal corrosion issues where he is located in the South Shore area of Massachusetts.

    Regarding all of the exchanges that we have had over the past couple of years, I would like to clarify the results. As discussed in the past, you have had more than your share of V7 and V8 steam leakers due to internal corrosion. As also discussed, we have paid VERY close attention to this occuring out in the field and have taken several steps to find out why. We have taken water samples from several of the jobsites where this has occured as well as a real close look at the possible contributory things that the system itself can cause. I have discussed most of these things here and at other sites.

    As discussed in previous posts, yes things like uninsulated mains, lack of venting and unattended excessive water makeup can kill steam boilers rather quickly regardless of the brand. One of the primary reasons you folks in your part of Mass. see this happening more often also has to due with the fact that Burnham Steam boilers were installed with greater frequency than other areas so just by percentages you will be seeing more failures. As I stated in all of the previous posts, we have not been resting on our laurels waiting for this problem to go away. We have been exploring the whys of this by sending engineers to your area and to a handful of other areas where this happened with greater frequency than anywhere else. We also brought several of these boilers back and sent them out to independent laboratories for analysis (a very expensive procedure I must add). Most of the people that monitor these sites can support me in saying that they may not see this happening in their geographical areas.

    With that in mind, we concentrated on what may be different about your geographical area than other areas where it does not happen. The one common denominator happens to be the water. It was not so much the water itself but what is in the water which ended up being higher than normal chloride levels. This is also something that we have been closely monitoring regarding stainless steel Indirect Heaters failing sooner than desired. With the indirects we began providing glass lined tanks to use where clhoride levels are high. With the steam boilers the answer is now MegaSteam.

    What we did find is that in areas with higher than normal chloride levels a process was occuring within the steam dome of the boiler called "Temperature Induced Chloride Activated Graphitic Corrosion". This reaction is something that begins with high chlorides in the water and is accelerated by heat or contact of the vertical and upper horizontal surfaces in the steam dome with the flue gasses. It is the contact with the flue gasses that triggers this process and once the ball gets rolling you just can't stop it. Yes it happens with other brands of steam boilers as well but possibly less often for reasons I will explain.

    Now you ask, what is going to make the MegaSteam different than any other boiler out there currently being used for steam? The difference is the flue gas passageway design. This is a horizontal passageway three pass boiler where all contact with flue gasses is below the steam surfaces. There is absolutely no flue gas contact with the cast iron surfaces that have steam on the other side. If you take away the HEAT you no longer have "Heat Induced Chloride Activated Graphitic Corrosion".

    You also ask why this is not happening to some of the older boilers that have been out there for years and years as well as other brands of similar vertical pinned flue design. As far as the newer ones go, they are also susceptible but due to variances in exposed surfaces, pin location and iron thickness it just takes longer. They are all prone due to flue gasses being on the other side of the section walls and dome. As far as the older boilers are concerned, the wall thicknesses were much greater and the exchange of flue gas temperature was not as pronouced due to wider passageways and ribbed surfaces instead of pinned surfaces. In otherwords they just were not as darn efficient. Most of the flue gas temperature was simply going up the chimney.

    We also took a close look at the design of some of the much, much older boilers thant have been out there operating on steam for say 50 to 100 years. Many of these had a common denominator as well. That common denominator is the rear outlet for flue gasses below the water level. They were of either 2-pass or 3-pass design, not very efficient due to the area of the passageways, but none the less below the water line. With all of this in mind we are now glad to introduce the MegaSteam boiler. It is the most efficient steam boiler out there and with protection from the Chloride Activated Corrosion by design....three pass flue gas flow. The testing we have done with this has shown no signs whatsoever of the trigger that starts the chloride corrosion process rolling......heat. That's why we are also the first company to step up to the plate with a warranty that covers internal corrosion.

    Keep in mind that even with the MegaSteam system issues such as uninsulated mains, lack of venting and unmonitored excessive water makeup still have to be paid attention to. We address this in the I&O manual and even go as far as to show a water meter installed on the makeup water line in the I&O drawings. Sorry for the longer than lengthy post and explanation, but I thought you were entitled to it. Thanks for your continued support Heaterman and others.

    The distributors now have their pricing and related information and several have orders in already. These are in production and some may begin to roll ot as early as this week. They will all be shipped out Knocked Down with an assembled block, cartoned jacket and all other related items all enclosed on the same pallet. All I ask is to be patient as the reaction to this boiler being introduced has been outstanding. You will see them very shortly. For now they will all be equipped with the Beckett AFG with other burner options to follow. Thanks again!

    Glenn Stanton

    Manager of Training

    Burnham Hydronics

    U.S. Boiler Co., Inc.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems