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Steam Boiler part 2

Mark929
Mark929 Member Posts: 72
You guys helped me out tremendously years ago..now I need direction again. Burnham IN5 steam boiler installed 7 yrs ago. Now, cracked at the top, steam coming out chimney, water feeder counter going up...My rep says town water/chemicals have contributed to its demise. Need to order another block. Q; could/should i install a filter or ? to prevent chemicals corroding system again? what should i be mindful of this time, this install? Distilled water ? Advice? Can this new install be done in a few months, vs now, as winter is departing? Much appreciated.

Comments

  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,756
    First question: where are you located?
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
    Needham Mass - outside Boston
  • PerryHolzman
    PerryHolzman Member Posts: 234
    Whether its chemicals or other reasons for the steam leak is unknown. Modern Boilers have not been holding up like the ones of the past as the boiler mfr's have significantly reduced the casting thickness. Also, there has been some discussion about the quality of the cast iron now being used (scrap metal can add lot of "impurities" which may reduce the life of the metal).

    Your question on providing cleaner water to the boiler is a good one. Unless you just happen to be in an industrial plant that produces distilled or demineralized water you cannot set that up as a reliable system.

    You could put a carbon block water filter in the supply, with the following cautions: It needs to be fairly large to last a year, and changed every year: Likely one sized to provide drinking water to a family for a year is adequate. You need to have valving and a drain to flush the cartridge every change until the water runs clear as most carbon block filters will release a lot of carbon particles when first used (water will be black for 5-10 gallons) and you don't want to add that to the boiler.

    The filer assembly needs to be rated for normal water system pressure. Some of the modern drinking water assemblies operate at a lower pressure (my current system I turn the water supply on with the sink spigot faucet. It runs water to the filter from that valve through a noticeably smaller tube than the filter outlet back to the spigot... thus insuring that the filer housing sees a lower pressure than the supply pressure.

    This mfr had issues with the previous filter housing developing cracks from pressure cycles under their previous system. Admittedly, those cracks did not show up for 8-10 years (well beyond what most consumer companies would care about). They just decided to design away the issue with their newer filer to provide much longer life housings. Also, greatly reduces the chance of a leak in the tubing under the sink. Only the supply tubing to the spigot valve is normally pressurized. Makes changing the filter cartridge a lot easier now too.

    You need to stick with a brand that has been around a long time and will be providing replacement carbon filter cartridges for many years (do some research). A lot of those units being sold in Home Depot, Lowes, etc. vanish in a year or two and you need to replace the entire unit as finding a supplier of cartridges can be very difficult and expensive. Yes, by federal law the mfr is supposed to have parts available for 10 years. I have experience with mfr's totally vanishing and no one picked them up. No parts. Also, I've seen other cases where the mfr exists... and you can buy a new current assembly cheaper than they will sell you the cartridge for the older model (via internet and shipping added).

    Hope this helps,

    Perry
    Mark929
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,958
    Needham. Needham. Are you on MDC water, or does Needham have its own? If it's MDC, you have about as good a quality water as you can get, so I'd not worry about it. Some of the local systems, though, have high chlorides -- which will contribute to corrosion. But not, usually, above the water line.

    Unhappily, chlorides or pH imbalance cannot fixed with "normal" filters. You'd have to go with a reverse osmosis unit if chlorides are the problem. If pH is the problem, simple additives, such as Steamaster, or even home grown additives (with caution) can be effective.

    As to replacement -- talk to Ryan ( @New England SteamWorks ) or Charles ( @Charlie from wmass ). Both excellent, and I think they both work in that area.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Mark929
  • New England SteamWorks
    New England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,444
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,898
    Is the early failure of the boiler from My rep says town water/chemicals have contributed to its demise
    or the amount of makeup?
    Before the excessive use what was the average makeup water usage?
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
    was going thru a few gallons a season, now with the crack - a few gallons a day. it's only a 7 yr system..they Burnham are charging me $700 and $1500 to install new block.
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
    is this story and situation common among Burnham. Options i should consider? Does it need to be done soon???
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,485
    In my part of the world, Burnham Independence get 15 years if you are lucky
    New England SteamWorks
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,485
    Shouldn't say quite like that. More like 10-15 year failure is not uncommon. Bulk of boilers I see are Weil Mclain or Burnham. WM's last 30-45 years.
    SuperTechNew England SteamWorks
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 332
    edited April 2020
    Needham’s public water supply has its own well field in the northwest corner of town near the Charles River and Natick town line.

    MWRA (Quabbin) water supplements the town’s supply, mainly in the summer. (The MDC was renamed years ago).

    I do not know the chloride content; when I grew up there, we had hot air and then hot water heat. Arcoliner boilers from the early 1950s were all over town, and I can’t remember one being replaced as of the early 1980s. Of course, they were built like Sherman tanks.

    Bburd
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,309
    If you call your water department they can send you a detailed water chemistry report or just read off the chlorides number to you.

    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
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,958
    Right. MWRA. Shows how up to date I am, eh? I'm going to bet -- given the location of your well field -- that your chlorides are high. Legal, but high. I'll be interested to know what you find out.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Mark929
    Mark929 Member Posts: 72
    i guess im now less concerned with water than the available options for another new block now 7 yrs later..