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dirt(?) in system

rhl
rhl Member Posts: 97
My entire system is copper/brass/pex. I have no black pipe anywhere. I have a caleffi dirtmag on the return. Radiators are Jaga low temp aluminum, or floor heat with pex.

After a few years of running the system, i notice that the caleffi flow valves are filled with brown water. Looks like dirt/metal.

I asked caleffi they said the only option is to replace the valves.

What can cause this? How do you fight against it?

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,960
    Is the PEX oxygen barrier or PEX/Al/PEX? Is there any iron or steel in the boiler or pumps?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 17,537
    An expansion tank? Most are steel and will tint the water. If you start out with filtered water and add some hydronic inhibitor, the water tends to not turn brown or black.

    Do you need or want to read the flow meters, most times they are used for initial balancing, then never looked at agin.
    If so you would want to run a cleaner, flush, add low mineral filtered water and a squirt of conditioner.

    One small steel nipple or any ferrous metal will eventually tint the water

    Amtrol has a lined expansion tank, no exposed steel. Zilmet has stainless steel expansion tanks, if that is the metal in the system.

    Rhomar and Fernox have a two aerosol kit designed exactly for that clean and inhibit procedure, does about 35gallons..
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,823
    My considered opinion is that you have too high a flow in the copper pipes and you are eating away the inside of the copper pipes. I hope you prove me wrong.
  • ScottSecor
    ScottSecor Member Posts: 617
    Unless I missed it, is the circulator pump iron?
    mattmia2
  • rhl
    rhl Member Posts: 97
    Hi,

    All pex is barrier pex or pex-al-pex.

    Primary is a grundfos 3 speed (part of the boiler) — it’s a Weil McLain AB. 

    secondary pumps are all alpha2s. — I’m realizing the alpha2 pumps may have some cast iron on them.

    I’m traveling right now — I believe the expansion tank is an amtrol. 


  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 17,537
    Those cast iron circulator bodies tend to turn brown within days of installation. They even get rusty on the shelves in humid climates :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • rhl
    rhl Member Posts: 97
    Should i replace them? I realize its weird that an ECM pump is sold with a cast iron body at all.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 17,537
    The discolored water is not a big issue. Actually a thin layer of oxidation inside ferrous metal parts protects the metals from rusting or corroding more. Hydronic conditioner treatments include a "film provider" as one of the ingredients to coat and protect metals.

    Think of anodized aluminum. They allow a small corrosion layer to be on the aluminum to shield it from harsh conditions. Same with Corten steel.

    It would be almost impossible to have perfectly clear water in any system with steel in it. If every component was plastic, brass, stainless, aluminum, you might keep clean water.

    You can get many circulators in stainless versions, about 3 times the price. More and more composites are also showing up for pump volutes. Problem with composites is they are oil products, so prices go up with petroleum prices. Sometimes they are less then stainless, other times they can be more.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    rhl