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What does Steamaster actually do?

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Zipper13
Zipper13 Member Posts: 229
Ok so i know that there are very mixed feelings here on the need and utility of boiler water additives. But I decided to try Steamaster tablets in my Burnham to see if it might help de-crudify things and settle the boiler during its non-silent first few minutes each cycle.

I'm not sure what I was expecting. Some say it leads to an unstable waterline and causes more harm than good. Others say it buffers the pH and is mainly a corrosion inhibitor to boost longevity, and still other say its best only used as a cleaner and should be flushed out when done. Everyone seems to agree though to use no more than half of the amount recommended on the label

I pre-dissolved two tabs in warm water and poured them in.

Gauge glass shows light purple.

I've never seen my pressure exceed 2oz but almost immediately it climbed to 7oz! I let it run to make sure it all mixed and it wasn't just the result of a weird pocket of freshly poured concentrated chemicals.

I've given it a day now and the pressure is reliably 3-5 oz. Its not a slow climb to that. Once the gauge sees pressure, that's where it goes to.

What is it about this stuff that pushed my operating pressure from 1-2 oz to 3-5 oz?

Those of you who use it, what performance/protection enhancements do you expect from it?

What's the basic chemistry of what it does?
New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch

Comments

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
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    Here's a thread I started on it a while ago.

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/152984/effects-of-too-much-water-treatment#latest


    Found some useful information regarding the main chemicals in Steamaster tablets after talking to some people that know far more than I do.

    There are four main chemicals per the MSDS.

    1: Sodium Nitrite. % by weight 44.04
    2: Sodium Triphosphate % by weight 23.52
    3: Sodium Metasilicate % by weight 1.34
    4: Citric Acid. % by weight 3.36

    Below is the response from someone named macckone.

    Sodium Nitrite is a corrosion inhibitor.
    Citric acid is to remove scale.
    Sodium Triphosphate is a detergent commonly used
    on steel to help remove rust and is acidic.
    Sodium metasilicate is used as a defloculant.

    Both sodium triphosphate and sodium metasilicate
    can cause foaming which is bad in a boiler system.

    The blue to purple color change suggests a pH indicator.
    Before boiling the calcium carbonate load of the water
    will be high but it is forced out of solution by boiling.
    It is one of the relatively few compounds that is
    less soluble at high temperature.

    Citric acid will dissolve most metal oxides and carbonates.

    The sodium nitrite will also lowers oxide levels which is
    important in protecting steel.

    Sodium Triphosphate is an acidic form which binds with
    calcium as well as iron oxide. This helps remove rust but
    can cause foaming.

    Sodium metasilicate is used to settle out particles in the
    system which should be removed during blowout.
    It can also cause foaming.

    Larger systems have a treatment tank followed by
    a filter before the boiler. They also have deaerators.

    Things to remember in a boiler system.
    Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen in the system is bad.
    Too high of an alkalinity means too much dissolved
    calcium carbonate.
    Feed water to the boiler should be deionized or demineralized
    with the later being more common.
    Additionally the feedwater should be deaerated.

    Most of this is difficult for a home system but normal
    maintenance for a commercial system.
    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
    Zipper13
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
    edited January 2020
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    My pressure goes up if I use too much too.

    Drain the boiler, refill and use one tablet, NOT two and see how it does.

    Mine does fine with two, no idea why. But not three.
    Even after it's been in for a year and it's faded, I cannot add a third. As can be seen by the first post in the thread I shared in my above comment.

    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
    ethicalpaul
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
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    When I was out with the tools I used steam master exclusively.
    I followed the manufacturers recommendations only to clean the boiler. Never left the original mix more than two days. This should be done before the heating season gets into full swing.

    I then drained the boiler and refilled to flood height with fresh water, then drained again. On the next operating refill I installed the steam master at half the required amount.

    I took notes on that boiler because some times I had to return to drain some water out because of foaming or water bouncing.

    Remember the the amount of pills to install as recommended was based on the edr of the boiler.

    All boilers with the same edr do not hold the water content.

    When you have a customer that uses you exclusively keeping a file on the boiler (every thing you do) you will know what works and those notes in addition help you trouble shoot the system. Jake
    Zipper13
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
    edited January 2020
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    When I was out with the tools I used steam master exclusively.
    I followed the manufacturers recommendations only to clean the boiler. Never left the original mix more than two days. This should be done before the heating season gets into full swing.

    I then drained the boiler and refilled to flood height with fresh water, then drained again. On the next operating refill I installed the steam master at half the required amount.

    I took notes on that boiler because some times I had to return to drain some water out because of foaming or water bouncing.

    Remember the the amount of pills to install as recommended was based on the edr of the boiler.

    All boilers with the same edr do not hold the water content.

    When you have a customer that uses you exclusively keeping a file on the boiler (every thing you do) you will know what works and those notes in addition help you trouble shoot the system. Jake

    The manufacturer says it can be used for cleaning as well as water treatment. Their dosage instructions are grossly inaccurate though, at least for residential systems.





    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
  • Chris_L
    Chris_L Member Posts: 336
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    @Zipper13, did Steamaster do anything about those non-silent first few minutes for you?

    I have been using it for a few years in a couple old Burnham boilers. I like it as it seems to keep the water clear, and the float LWCOs working well.

    But I've had kettling in the boilers just as the water began to boil. I could feel banging in the boiler by holding on to the boiler riser just as it started to get hot. I am not saying the Steamaster caused this, but it didn't prevent it either.

    Skimming didn't help. What did work was Hercules boiler cleaner. It too cause higher pressure and a lot of surging. But it removed whatever sediments were causing the noise at startup, and I don't have any kettling now.
  • Zipper13
    Zipper13 Member Posts: 229
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    @Chris_L
    With untreated water it would bang and kettle on start up but i found that dropping the water level an inch cured the banging. but the ketting remained so i thought id try the SM.

    Just dropping them in did not improve the kettling. But i just did a pretty thoughrough flush today - probably 7 five gallon buckets of rusty water- and then put one tablet into the new water. The first two cycles have been silent on start up. So at this point if that holds I'll keep it in there as a corrosion inhibitor.

    Interestingly, i was surprised to find that the purple water had concentrated in the wet return. That drained far deeper purple colored water than i ever saw from the boiler drain.
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,784
    edited January 2020
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    > @Zipper13 said:
    > @Chris_L
    > With untreated water it would bang and kettle on start up but i found that dropping the water level an inch cured the banging. but the ketting remained so i thought id try the SM.
    >
    > Just dropping them in did not improve the kettling. But i just did a pretty thoughrough flush today - probably 7 five gallon buckets of rusty water- and then put one tablet into the new water. The first two cycles have been silent on start up. So at this point if that holds I'll keep it in there as a corrosion inhibitor.
    >
    > Interestingly, i was surprised to find that the purple water had concentrated in the wet return. That drained far deeper purple colored water than i ever saw from the boiler drain.

    I haven't checked lately but I've never seen anything other than clean clear water in my wet return. No purple at all and a TDS close to zero.
    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
    Hap_Hazzard
  • Zipper13
    Zipper13 Member Posts: 229
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    Well, the banging and kettling on startup are back... but the water is clean! can't win em all i guess.
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Zipper13 said:

    Well, the banging and kettling on startup are back... but the water is clean! can't win em all i guess.

    Have we seen any pictures of the boiler/near boiler piping?
    Does the boiler need a good skimming? Draining the boiler isn't the same as a skim.
    Are you over filling the boiler?
    Can we hear what you are calling "kettling"?
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
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    When the heating season is over here is what you might try.

    Disconnect the piping from the bottom of the boiler and or remove the plug from the other side of the boiler.

    With a wire brush and water clean out the bottom push nipples from front to back,

    Remember if you had a lot of corrosion for a long time the crud that was not removed will impede the circulation of water between sections.

    The kettling i believe what you describe is like a T kettle on a very large fire. The water has no place to go so bubbles violently.

    If water in the bottom of the boiler does not circulate evenly the area where the water may be stagnant you may be getting that noisy effect.

    Jake
    ChrisJ
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
    edited January 2020
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    I've always taken "kettling" to mean rough boiling. In the chemistry lab they call it "bumping," and it happens when you try to boil water in a beaker or an Erlenmeyer flask. Glass is a smooth surface. It lacks nucleation sites that allow steam bubbles to form, so the water reaches a higher temperature before it forms steam, so, when steam is produced it causes a larger amount of steam to be produced, hence, big bubbles. The cure for bumping is to add boiling chips or peices of broken glass to the container to provide nucleation sites.

    Cast iron provides a rough, porous surface with nucleation sites galore, so it normally produces a wonderfully smooth boil. However, if the surface is coated with fine sediment of some kind, the nucleation sites aren't free to interact with the water, and you get a rough boil. The chemicals in Steammaster reduce the surface tension of water, so they should help, but I think the best thing you can do is to wand out your boiler.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    wz25
  • Zipper13
    Zipper13 Member Posts: 229
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    It's possible I'm using "kettling" incorrectly. It reminds me of when a tea kettle is just about to boil, but the bubbles collapse before they are able to rise to the surface - once more uniformly heated, this stops as the bubbles are able to rise all the way?

    It sounds like a rapid rattle or like a loud rain sticks (not sure if those are still a thing).

    It's a two pipe vacuum system and interestingly, I've found that if I relieve the vacuum by opening the skim port valve to let air rush into the boiler before it runs, there is none of this kettling sounds whatsoever.

    I did skip a thorough annual cleaning this year in lieu of a good skimming and two days of filling and draining out the rusty stuff, so that lack of a full on cleaning is no doubt contributing.

    I've been told the piping isn't the best, but it's worlds better than many of the systems I've seen on here!
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch