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How much water treatment is too much?

ethicalpaul
ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
edited March 16 in Strictly Steam
People are often asking on HH how much water treatment to put in their boilers. It’s a good question because while treatment is good for maintaining desired PH and potentially other benefits, there is concern that too much can cause surging or foaming.

And there is some opinion (including mine) that some manufacturers overstate how much treatment should be used.

so I made a video showing my “visible” boiler’s performance with ever-increasing amounts of treatment. Here it is:



Spoiler: It’s admittedly a bit of an action letdown because I couldn’t get even a 50% overdose of 8-way to get my boiler to misbehave! It’s just piped so well! 😂
1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
kflorySlamDunk
«1

Comments

  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 653
    edited March 16
    I have been using 8-way treatment and even at the full recommended dosage, we haven't had surging problems. However, the problem we have found, is that with the standard dosage with Chicago water (slightly alkaline to prevent lead from leeching into the water supply) the Ph is so high, it is eroding copper and brass in the system. We now only use 1/2 the dosage, so the water is just slightly pink. This keeps the Ph around 9 or so. IIRC, once you get over Ph 10or so , brass and copper are attacked. It was really obvious when we replaced my church's boiler last year, the whole inside of the boiler was green.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    ethicalpaul
  • jhrost
    jhrost Member Posts: 57
    So if you hit a high Ph with your wet steam boiler with coppers risers and header it will force you to get it piped correctly in schd 40 iron sooner. Knuckleheads who try to use water treatment in place of bothering too skim the new copper header boiler they installed should take note of that.

    Great job on that boiler installation - it looks pretty bullet proof.
    ethicalpaul
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,857
    Nice video @ethicalpaul !!!
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
    edited March 16
    Thanks all!

    @The Steam Whisperer I have heard this. Did you see any damage on the brass/copper parts themselves? I wonder how much damage. Was it to parts such as the copper pigtail, the PRv, and/or the gauge glass hardware, stuff like that?
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 653
    Somewhere on the web I found Ph charts that showed the effect of different metals. Where we may have seen some damage is to orifice plates installed in the radiator valves.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
    That's odd...how did the treatment get up there?
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    ChrisJ
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    It's been a while since I experimented with it but 3 Steamaster pills in my boiler causes an issue every time. The system works fine, but my pressure went quite a bit higher, I suspect due to foaming and carry over.

    Two does not. I haven't seen any issues with my copper piping that's below the water line yet.

    I've never been able to accurately measure the pH, at least not in my opinion because the purple color messes with the pH test.

    That being said, I do recall Steamaster not being as alkaline as some other chemicals, so no matter how much I added it wouldn't go above a certain point, I think it was 10 but I could be remembering wrong. Also, it's my understanding that pH alone isn't good enough. Total Alkalinity also matters and I suspect corrosion inhibitors may protect copper.

    I wouldn't expect water treatment in a system that's functioning properly to ever make it to the radiators or even the steam mains, that should be pure distilled water.

    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
    BobC
  • jhrost
    jhrost Member Posts: 57
    I like your scientific approach to this issue, and commendable dedication in taking the time to post it. Thanks to you and Gordon also for posting his videos, actually seeing something done as opposed to just discussing it is very helpful. I would imagine that the Rectorseal 8 way people had guys in labcoats with clipboards (actually some time of hand held device now) testing this stuff out, which makes me wonder how they simulated an older system. Maybe just having contractors field test it for them?

    My guess is that the specific water recommendation is for newer systems like yours, and maybe the somewhat vague violet color guide is for older installations with more variables like amount of system gunk etc.? Based on what you learned would you have stuck to the 8 ounces or just 6 ounces if doing it again? When I get a new installation I would definitely look into the PH-you want to protect all the time and money you have invested in it.
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
    ChrisJ said:

    It's been a while since I experimented with it but 3 Steamaster pills in my boiler causes an issue every time. The system works fine, but my pressure went quite a bit higher, I suspect due to foaming and carry over.

    So it got up to .5" WC? :sweat_smile:

    I want to do the same experiment with steammaster tablets since they are so highly thought of (and I have no reason not to think highly of them myself--I've just never tried them yet).

    But the thought of flushing all that nice 8-way in my system makes me not want to! Maybe next season I'll do it.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    It's been a while since I experimented with it but 3 Steamaster pills in my boiler causes an issue every time. The system works fine, but my pressure went quite a bit higher, I suspect due to foaming and carry over.
    So it got up to .5" WC? :sweat_smile: I want to do the same experiment with steammaster tablets since they are so highly thought of (and I have no reason not to think highly of them myself--I've just never tried them yet). But the thought of flushing all that nice 8-way in my system makes me not want to! Maybe next season I'll do it.
    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
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
    5" WC!?!?! Unpossible! That's 2.9 ounces per sq in!! You'll break your vents! :lol:
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
    jhrost said:

    I like your scientific approach to this issue, and commendable dedication in taking the time to post it. Thanks to you and Gordon also for posting his videos, actually seeing something done as opposed to just discussing it is very helpful. I would imagine that the Rectorseal 8 way people had guys in labcoats with clipboards (actually some time of hand held device now) testing this stuff out, which makes me wonder how they simulated an older system. Maybe just having contractors field test it for them?

    My guess is that the specific water recommendation is for newer systems like yours, and maybe the somewhat vague violet color guide is for older installations with more variables like amount of system gunk etc.? Based on what you learned would you have stuck to the 8 ounces or just 6 ounces if doing it again? When I get a new installation I would definitely look into the PH-you want to protect all the time and money you have invested in it.

    Thanks for the kind words. I think I would probably go with 8oz for my little 9.3 gallon boiler. But really anything around there is worlds better than pure water IMO. Probably .5 to 1 oz per gallon is just fine.

    I would bet that the Rectorseal engineers worked with some contractors to be able to do some tests of older systems in the wild.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    There is such a wide variety of water out there that you should really test fill water before you add any chemicals. And before that flush the system well, a cleaner helps cut oils and fluxes for a good clean start.
    Denver water is also now being driven to high Ph to coat lead pipes, ME tells me problems are already starting in hydronics with that high ph water.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
    In my video I tested the water after draining and filling 😅
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    I like those site glasses where did you source them?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    ethicalpaul
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    hot_rod said:
    I like those site glasses where did you source them?
    Oh no you brought it up!!!
    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
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
    edited March 17
    hot_rod said:
    I like those site glasses where did you source them?
    Thanks! They are 2.5” Tri-clamp with 63mm fitting size which gives a 2” I.D.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1PC-2-5-63mm-Flow-Sanitary-Sight-Glass-Tri-Clamp-Type-Stainless-Steel-SS304-s3-/173657244709?_trksid=p2349624.m46890.l49292

    NPT fittings: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XB427KN/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_i_PG6Q6QMXCD77Y3DH23BK

    they are used in brewing and chemical production and are rated for I think 250 degrees and high pressure.

    I think installers should put one on a riser to show the customer how dry their steam is.

    They make a very nice union connection too, that can be opened with no tools!! So they can save the cost of a union.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 678
    edited March 17
    ChrisJ said:

    It's been a while since I experimented with it but 3 Steamaster pills in my boiler causes an issue every time. The system works fine, but my pressure went quite a bit higher, I suspect due to foaming and carry over.

    Two does not. I haven't seen any issues with my copper piping that's below the water line yet.

    I've never been able to accurately measure the pH, at least not in my opinion because the purple color messes with the pH test.

    That being said, I do recall Steamaster not being as alkaline as some other chemicals, so no matter how much I added it wouldn't go above a certain point, I think it was 10 but I could be remembering wrong. Also, it's my understanding that pH alone isn't good enough. Total Alkalinity also matters and I suspect corrosion inhibitors may protect copper.

    I wouldn't expect water treatment in a system that's functioning properly to ever make it to the radiators or even the steam mains, that should be pure distilled water.

    It depends on what's in the water as a treatment. There are chemicals that are meant to volatilize into the steam and be carried out into the system with it, usually ammonia based. It could be part of the chemical design that it comes out in small amounts when it breaks down in the system.

    @hot_rod You can get the sightglass from any supplier that sells sanitary connections. Look for brewing, pharmaceutical suppliers
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355
    edited March 17
    @ethicalpaul, isn't your LWCO mounted kinda high? How low do you have to drain the boiler to trigger it?
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    @ethicalpaul, isn't your LWCO mounted kinda high? How low do you have to drain the boiler to trigger it?
    That's the oem configuration for that boiler no?
    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
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
    @ethicalpaul, isn't your LWCO mounted kinda high? How low do you have to drain the boiler to trigger it?
    Well it’s in the place where the Peerless factory put it 😅

    I think it triggers at 1/4 of the gauge glass
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,857
    @hot_rod

    Sounds like Denver will have a lot of future work...job security for someone :)
  • Handyman 242
    Handyman 242 Member Posts: 15
    My experience has been 2 steammaster tabs seems the correct dose for most residential boilers (400 Sq ft ERD) . Every year on the PM the boiler would be drained and flushed until the water was clear.
    I especially liked the way you piped the 45 off the header to the equalizer. I do it like that to get a swing joint to the equalizer. Great job on the video and wonderful installation.
    ethicalpaul
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355

    Well it’s in the place where the Peerless factory put it 😅

    I think it triggers at 1/4 of the gauge glass

    Interesting. Mine's a little lower than the lower glasscock. I think they intended it to be a secondary LWCO in case the float LWCO failed, so they put the tapping at the minimum water line.
    Peerless series 61 tapping locations
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
    edited March 18
    Yes, yours is about 35 years older than mine and they have changed the ports (and they no longer ship with a float LWCO :smile: ). Here is the current drawing. I think I recall another interesting difference, that your LWCO is low voltage whereas mine is 120v and cuts off power to everything when it activates (which in my case is every 15 minutes whether the boiler is running or not!)



    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355

    Yes, yours is about 35 years older than mine and they have changed the ports (and they no longer ship with a float LWCO :smile: ). Here is the current drawing. I think I recall another interesting difference, that your LWCO is low voltage whereas mine is 120v and cuts off power to everything when it activates.

    Yes, that is another difference. My LWCO is in series with the Pressuretrol and thermostat, so it only cuts power to the burners and closes the damper, but it also turns on the water feeder, which is also 24 volt. I assume your water feeder must be on a separate circuit or something?
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355

    I want to do the same experiment with steammaster tablets since they are so highly thought of (and I have no reason not to think highly of them myself--I've just never tried them yet).

    Maybe you should consider selling them to somebody who uses them. You could demand a premium price since they're among the few left on the planet. :D
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956

    Yes, that is another difference. My LWCO is in series with the Pressuretrol and thermostat, so it only cuts power to the burners and closes the damper, but it also turns on the water feeder, which is also 24 volt. I assume your water feeder must be on a separate circuit or something?

    Water feeder? What's that? :lol:

    But seriously, if I did have one, there is a 120v model that would work with my 120v LWCO.

    My old Utica was wired just like yours. It had a 24v LWCO and feeder.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • NJ08534
    NJ08534 Member Posts: 1
    Yes I am having difficulty finding steam master tablets....   is anyone finding source for new tabs these days?  Is the factory shut permanently?  Might be e good business for someone to start up again ...
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355
    NJ08534 said:

    Yes I am having difficulty finding steam master tablets....   is anyone finding source for new tabs these days?  Is the factory shut permanently?  Might be e good business for someone to start up again ...

    They are no longer part of the Rectorseal family of fine products.
    https://rectorseal.com/catalog/category/view/s/chemical-products/id/31/?p=2
    We've never been able to determine exactly what's in them, but I'm sure if you wrote them a letter and told them you wanted to take over manufacturing them, they'd be more than happy to give you the formula. :D (I'm kidding. Don't do that.)

    I just noticed something interesting on their web site just now. If you go to the link above and click on "Category" on the left side of the page, one of the categories is "Steamaster." If you select that option it takes you to a product called "Scale Flush." Is this their cryptic way of telling us Scale Flush is a replacement for Steammaster? And why did it lose an "m" when it became a category?
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
    Guess someone "mispelled" it :)

    And I just checked--I don't have any steammaster tablets. What I have is "surge-x" powder.

    I wonder how close steammaster is to Surge Master:
    https://rectorseal.com/surgemaster-5-3-oz/
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355
    As far as I can tell, these four products all do similar things:
    https://rectorseal.com/scale-flush/
    https://rectorseal.com/surgex-concentrate-1-5-oz/
    https://rectorseal.com/surgemaster-5-3-oz/
    https://rectorseal.com/8-way-group/
    But, according to the Heating Service Products Brochure, Scale Flush IS the new Steammaster.

    I was hoping the brochure would contain helpful information about when to use which product; however, I was disappointed.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    ethicalpaul
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    It didn't lose an M, it never had it.



    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
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    edited March 18
    For what it's worth here's info I shared a few times on the forum regarding Steamaster.
    Some of this info was from the MSDS and the rest from another forum so it may not be accurate, but I believe it to be.

    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.



    Here's the MSDS from Scale Flush. According to that, it's the same thing as Steamaster but I would guess not everything is listed.


    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
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
    Scale Flush is missing from the internet...I can't find it for sale anywhere
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549

    Scale Flush is missing from the internet...I can't find it for sale anywhere

    Sounds identical to Steamaster :)
    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_Hazzardethicalpaul
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,355
    edited March 18
    The ingredients listed in the SDS are the same too. BTW, you may have noticed that the percentages don't add up to 100, because an SDS only has to list the hazardous components.

    So, other than that, they don't say what's in their products, or exactly what they're good for, or where to buy 'em, but they're really great products! :D
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    ethicalpaul
  • kenlmad
    kenlmad Member Posts: 53
    edited March 19
    "Scale Flush formerly Steamaster" ... from their October 2020 catalog that Google found:


  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,956
    Now order some!
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    Now order some!
    From??
    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
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