Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Corrosion in nearly new steam boiler

nysger
nysger Member Posts: 10
My single pipe burnham boiler has corrosion in one of the block sections and is need of replacement. My boiler is only 7 years old and my water feed is used to control the hard water from my well. There is a water softener installed in the house. So I have never drained the unit as part of yearly service. Does anyone recommend what I can do to prevent this in my new expensive boiler? Any opinion on Gas versus oil...currently using oil. Obvously need a new boiler...

Comments

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,988
    Where is the corrosion and can you post some pictures?? We would like to see it. Lots of variables.

    A seven year old boiler should not fail unless using excessive make up water
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,910
    Is the boiler using softened water? Depending on the softener, that can kill a boiler in remarkably quick time. Or, as @EBEBRATT-Ed said, leaks. Or both...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,329
    What model Burnham?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,739
    I can't quite understand exactly if you're using soft water or not in your boiler, but not draining it every year is fine IMO (I like to drain as little as possible to let the mud out).

    I'm really sorry about your boiler. Try a Peerless

    Here is everyone's recent opinions on oil vs gas when you have the option: https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/184685/convert-to-gas-or-stay-with-oil
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    Prevch
  • nysger
    nysger Member Posts: 10
    the boiler unit is Burnham M/N KV89 (KV89LX-LLUDO, S/N G5026585) I am attaching photos of the burner and corrosion and I will post pics of water softener and front view of unit and the burner looping



  • nysger
    nysger Member Posts: 10
    more pics on other components and views
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,910
    You still don't specify if you are using softened water in the boiler.

    If you are, STOP.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    SuperTech
  • nysger
    nysger Member Posts: 10
    Yes I am using the softened water in both the boiler and my oil fired hot water heater. Thankful they are separate because I do have hot water
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,988
    My eyes are not the best but I am not seeing corrosion.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,910
    nysger said:

    Yes I am using the softened water in both the boiler and my oil fired hot water heater. Thankful they are separate because I do have hot water

    That's a lot of your problem in the boiler. Do NOT use softened water in a boiler. For a hot water system, if your source water is really hard, use deionized or distilled water and chemical pH and oxidation treatment. For steam, simple pH stabilization is all that's needed for residential use. Softened water is remarkably corrosive.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,329
    nysger said:

    Yes I am using the softened water in both the boiler and my oil fired hot water heater. Thankful they are separate because I do have hot water

    Bad move. Softened water contains sodium chloride (salt) ions, which accelerate corrosion in cast-iron boilers.

    Based on the rating of that boiler, you're really into a small commercial boiler size. Look at the Weil-McLain 80 series, Peerless SC or similar. These can all burn oil or gas.

    Where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,506
    edited August 2021
    Steamhead said:

    nysger said:

    Yes I am using the softened water in both the boiler and my oil fired hot water heater. Thankful they are separate because I do have hot water

    Bad move. Softened water contains sodium chloride (salt) ions, which accelerate corrosion in cast-iron boilers.

    Based on the rating of that boiler, you're really into a small commercial boiler size. Look at the Weil-McLain 80 series, Peerless SC or similar. These can all burn oil or gas.

    Where are you located?
    Maybe measure the EDR first and make sure the current boiler isn't grossly oversized...
    ethicalpaulSuperTech
  • nysger
    nysger Member Posts: 10
    I live in Poughkeepsie my 12603. Can someone explain EDR for me. Thanks.

    Also if I change my boiler to gas can my hot water heater stay oil fired and share the same chimney…a stainless steel liner insert exists in the chimney.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,329
    EDR= Equivalent Direct Radiation. Basically, how much heat your radiators can emit.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,910
    nysger said:

    I live in Poughkeepsie my 12603. Can someone explain EDR for me. Thanks.

    Also if I change my boiler to gas can my hot water heater stay oil fired and share the same chimney…a stainless steel liner insert exists in the chimney.

    No. At least around here gas and oil cannot share a chimney.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • nysger
    nysger Member Posts: 10
    Would a PH neutralizer system work in my case? To neutralize my acidic water.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,910
    You may want a pH neutralizer for all of your water, if it is really acidic However... most residential pH neutralizes also increase the hardness; you mentioned that you had a water softener now, so I'm guessing that your water is also somewhat hard already. This is a somewhat unusual pairing -- usually hard water is pretty close to neutral pH, and acidic water not particularly hard, but...

    For you boiler, the best treatment is probably Rectorseal or something of the sort, just enough to get the pH up to 8 or so. If you don't use much or any water, that will be just fine. No softening! For your domestic water, you may want to balance the control of pH -- if the water is really acidic, say around 4 or so, that can be hard on copper plumbing -- with desired softness. I personally would be more concerned about the acidity of domestic water than about hardness, but there is an aesthetic part to that equation.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,792
    I live in Poughkeepsie my 12603. Can someone explain EDR for me. Thanks. Also if I change my boiler to gas can my hot water heater stay oil fired and share the same chimney…a stainless steel liner insert exists in the chimney.
    No. At least around here gas and oil cannot share a chimney.

    I live and work in the same area.  Definitely cannot vent both into the same chimney. An inspector will definitely catch that in Poughkeepsie. I would go with gas heating over oil if you do end up replacing anything. I would change the water heater too and just be done with the oil, as much as I like oil equipment natural gas is less expensive in Dutchess County. Be very careful with who you hire to do the work. I don't know anyone in the area who I would consider a competent steam company, I don't work on any myself. That boiler seems ridiculously large for a home in the town of Poughkeepsie, I would definitely recommend figuring out how much radiation your emitters are capable of, that is the EDR and determines the size of the boiler for your home. I wouldn't be surprised if it is massively oversized knowing some of the companies in our area. I didn't see major corrosion either in your pictures but hearing about the softened water and that fact that you have a Burnham I wouldn't be surprised if you have a problem. I would also recommend a Peerless boiler if you end up replacing everything.  
    ethicalpaulmattmia2
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
    As far as I know, gas and oil is allowed in CT. The question comes up often, but have yet to find the code for it. Do you have a code number?
  • nysger
    nysger Member Posts: 10
    Ok so softened water is not good for cast iron boilers…point well made. So is there something to take the hardness out of my well water yet not introduce acidity to my water and that I can use for the whole house?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,910
    A little confusion there, I think. Acidity -- pH -- refers to the concentration of the Hydrogen H+ ion in the water. Hardness refers to the combined concentration of Calcium CA+2 and Magnesium MG+2 ions (usually almost entirely Calcium). They do have an effect on each other; in general, hard water -- high Calcium concentration -- will have a moderate to high pH, whereas naturally soft water will tend to have a lower pH.

    Most residential water softeners work by exchanging Sodium ions, Na+, for Calcium ions. Two things happen (I'll not get into the equilibrium chemistry involved): first, water with a significant Sodium ion concentration tends to be highly corrosive. Think salt water -- sea water. Second, at the same time, removing the Ca+ ions reduces what is called the buffering capacity of the water -- a property of the various compounds dissolved in the water which stabilises the pH -- and, as a result, will reduce the pH of the water -- make it more acid.

    Bottom line. Most domestic water softeners remove Calcium ions and add Sodium ions and lower -- make more acid -- the pH. Most domestic devices to control acidity -- raise the pH -- do so by adding Calcium ions to raise and stabilise the pH.

    In principle it is possible to reduce the Calcium concentration -- the hardness -- and control the acidity -- stabilise the pH (the usual target value is around 7.5) with water treatment. So far as I am aware, there is no combination of common domestic water treatment devices which will do that. It is done in large water treatment facilities -- under the constant watch and control of the plant operators -- by adding various chemicals to the water in precise amounts and then settling and clarifying the water.

    In your situation, I would plan on using the well water as is -- possibly with Rectorseal or some such to stabilise the pH -- and adding a water softener for the domestic water supply only -- probably only on the hot water.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    nysger
  • nysger
    nysger Member Posts: 10
    Jamie hall thanks for the analysis. Your solution makes a lot of sense and I will try to implement.