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.

cleaning procedures on firetubes, what are you all doing?

tim smith
tim smith Member Posts: 2,460
edited August 2021 in THE MAIN WALL
Hey all, as we go out and service firetube condensing boilers we are finding more and more of the tubes blocking up with the coffee ground byproducts. Some are so clogged you cant figure out how they can still run. The grounds get compacted and solidifed at the dimple points of the tubes. Some heat exchangers are up to 80% blocked. Most were serviced and flushed annually but the tubes really need to be poked out with some sort of rod to keep the build up from getting too bad. We also find while cleaning some times that the heat exchanger will leak after clearing due to the crystals and acid in condensate attack the stainless. (our personal opinion) These are all the boilers from 50 mbh to 400 mbh. Maybe even larger ones but not sure. Mfr does not seem to make a difference on the block up as long as its the common firetube heat exchanger we all are seeing out there in this size range.
This is just what we are seeing and our opinion.


  • TomS
    TomS Member Posts: 59
    "Clean-free for at least 5 years*
    Thanks to our nano-coated heat exchanger,
    the new Ultra Series 4 requires no cleaning
    for a full five years after installation. When
    it’s time to clean, a simple rinsing of the
    coated heat exchanger with water does
    the trick"

    I wonder if you ever ran across one of these Weil Mclain fire tube boilers?
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 873
    Goodway makes equipment for cleaning tubes in any size fire tube boiler.

    If the tubes leak after cleaning it is time to re-tube the boiler.

    Fire tube boilers need to be cleaned after 1000 hours of operation.

  • Derheatmeister
    Derheatmeister Member Posts: 1,280
    It depends on the equipment...
    Downfire HX such as the TT/Lochinvar or the Viessmann type
    We made a high pressure cleaning machine for the Viessmann type of Heatexchangers.
    For the downfires we remove and plug the Trap, fill it with a CLR or super Citrus mixture, let it soak for approx.1/2 hour, then we rinse it out.
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes Member Posts: 3,246
    edited September 2021
    I don’t normally clean fire tube boilers. TT Solo’s we’re sold to me as “self-cleaning”. Also, many of the boilers we service are mounted high, close to the ceiling;  prevents or obstructs access. You can’t get your head in there to see what’s going on. And I’ve never had to worry about torque spec. until I must have over-tightened the bolts on a Solo and the bolts sheared off and the entire HX had to be replaced. 
    We’ve installed many Lochinvar  and IBC boilers. Discouraging to hear about coffee grounds clogging the HX. Thanks @tim smith
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
  • tim smith
    tim smith Member Posts: 2,460
    derheatmeister, what super citrus cleaner are you using. I did get some Citrisurf 77 which is also good for passivating after. They really do get bad if you don't keep up on them. about 80% start blocking up but then there will be 20 % that are quite clean for some random reason. We mostly of course are seeing them build up more in lower temp operations. We too have sealed them and filled to try and get grounds out. Some of them are beyond saving.
    Thanks for replies all.