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.

What does it mean if the water in my boilers sight gauge looks brown like this?


    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    How old is this boiler and has it ever been skimmed?

    How much bounce do you see in the sight glass when steaming?
  • tocker
    tocker Member Posts: 30
    edited December 2022
    I have a similar problem....but the water in the manifold gauges is very black. Initially, the water looked rusty brown like yours and so I flushed and refilled a few times both at the end of last season and the beginning of this season. While it didn't take all of the crud out of the gauges on the manifolds, it looked better. Now the water is black.

    My boiler is a high efficiency Lochinvar WHB110 and Caleffi Hydro Sep then I have copper to 3 Taco ECM variable speed circulators, out to 3 zone Caleffi manifolds, then Uponor HePEX to new panel rads. System is quiet, so air doesn't seem to be an issue. Water is running at 150 degrees max during this cold snap to 10 degrees. Usually water temps are less than 130. Install happened during a basement renovation and was up and running last Winter before the walls were closed in. I didn't see any leaks.

    If anyone can point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    Tocker, is your pex of the oxygen barrier design?
    You might want to get this investigated soon.
    You may have a different problem than a steam system.
    Try your own posting, it will get different eyes on it.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,484
    That's sorta how mine looked before I started using water treatment.

    With treatment it looks like this.

    I don't think Steamaster is available anymore but I've heard 8-way is similar.

    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: 5,617
    I would say it means your boiler is corroding. Which they all do eventually, but if you can see brown water, that is more than you want to see.

    I use 8-way to raise my boiler's PH to 10 or so. Iron basically stops corroding at that point. You don't have to use as much as they say on the bottle...just add a little at a time and measure the ph as you go with litmus ph test strips, available cheap on Amazon, as is the 8-way treatment.

    With years of operation though, there might be quite a bit of "mud" built up in the nooks and crannies of your boiler, so you might find that you have to drain it a few times if the water muddies up again.

    Once you get the water clear, it will stay clear for years.

    And make sure you don't have any steam or water leaks. Fresh water causes corrosion too.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,943
    Scale flush was available on Amazon at last check. Supposed to be to Steam master. Can't say for sure.