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Can I do a yearly boiler clean out myself?

somekindofpress Member Posts: 7
edited September 2020 in Strictly Steam
Hey all. I've had my local plumber come in and do a yearly clean out/tune up on my steam boiler since I got it installed in 2018 (Weil McClain). Curious if, because of COVID, I could just do it myself, or if it's just worth it to pay the $ to have someone do it.

I have no experience at all, so I think I know the answer. But maybe it's easier than I thought.



  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    edited September 2020
    Hmmm...a plumber? Is it oil, or is it gas? Does he do a combustion check and give you a printout showing the efficiency?

    Do you know what he does do to it?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Honestly, no, I have no clue. I know he drains it and adds something to it that turns the vial blue/green. He told me to flush it a bit every 2 weeks and add new water once that color goes away. But it never went away.

    It's natural gas.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,623
    edited September 2020
    Someone should be flushing the base of the boiler and the returns annually along with testing and cleaning the safeties. Cleaning the combustion side probably can be done every couple years.
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,423
    Well one thing is for sure, do not have him service your boiler again @somekindofpress. None of the things he does or recommends should ever be done. Where are you located? 
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    @Danny Scully I thought we were supposed to flush the crud out of our LWCO's weekly during to heating season? Not sure what's up with the green water, I have heard of purple with some additives. FWIW I use test strips to check my water PH weekly.
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,423
    @gfrbrookline, if you have a float style LWCO you’re suppose to test it weekly while the boiler is running to see if it actually shuts the boiler off. In doing so, you are draining a bit of water but the LWCO should engage instantly more or less so it’s really not much at all. The green water is likely something advertised to prevent surging. There is, however, no substitute for a good skim/wand cleaning. 
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
    If you're asking the question, then I'd say yes, you're capable of it.

    I was in your position this spring. I recommend making a list of the things that need to be done, and then evaluate if they're doable by you. If you decide not, then you have a list to give to the person who will do them. And you'll be better prepared to discuss the matter with them, and even review their work.

    My list is at the end of this post:

    Not all of them are applicable to your setup.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    @Danny Scully I have been told by many professionals to blow down both of my LWCO until they run clear weekly. Is this wrong?
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,423
    If you have a float style LWCO, you simply test it (weekly) while the boiler is in operation to ensure it shuts off the boiler. If you have a probe style LWCO, it should be tested annually by creating a low water condition. In neither of these situations would I suggest draining water “until it becomes clear”. This is a common misguidance in my opinion. Fresh water contains oxygen, and oxygen is corrosive. Minimizing the introduction of fresh water is what I recommend.