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Why does my heating water loop smell like turpentine?

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DCMA1
DCMA1 Member Posts: 17
So, the water in my boiler, radiators, heating loop smells like turpentine. It's been that way for years. Probably should have flushed it? But had the "it's a feature, not a bug" attitude because if the kids accidently opened an air vent on a radiator I immediately found the leak. But I don't know why it smells that way? I thought the previous owner must've added something to the water? Cleaning solution? Now that the boiler is leaking, I tested the water, it was acidic, possibly due to combustion gases getting in. But maybe that way all along? Not sure what makes it smell. I don't see how it could be bacteria or something similar causing a smell because the temp should kill it off, has to be chemical?

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  • Derheatmeister
    Derheatmeister Member Posts: 1,572
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    Hmm...Probably deteriorated Glycol....Generally it turns Acidic when it deteriorates.
    Combustion Gases should not have anything to do with this since this is a closed loop and the system fluid never gets in contact with the fire side. :)
    IMO a sample should be send to someone to analyze it and make recommendations..Rhomar in Springfield MO is a good start.
    After a report you can decide if you want to go the Chemical >:) or none Chemical route o:) .
    HomerJSmith
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,511
    edited April 2023
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    I think certain bacteria love an acid environment.

    "A hyperthermophile is an organism that thrives in extremely hot environments—from 60 °C (140 °F) upwards. An optimal temperature for the existence of hyperthermophiles is often above 80 °C (176 °F).[1] Hyperthermophiles are often within the domain Archaea, although some bacteria are also able to tolerate extreme temperatures. Some of these bacteria are able to live at temperatures greater than 100 °C, deep in the ocean where high pressures increase the boiling point of water. Many hyperthermophiles are also able to withstand other environmental extremes, such as high acidity or high radiation levels. Hyperthermophiles are a subset of extremophiles. Their existence may support the possibility of extraterrestrial life, showing that life can thrive in environmental extremes."--Wikipedia

    I think a good cleaning is due.
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,658
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    Drain and flush the system, refill with Rhomar cleaner, leave in system 24-48 hrs, drain and flush. refill with Rhomar Pro-Tek. Or find a pro to do it, because a pump is required or a flush cart.
    DerheatmeisterSteve_Wheels
  • DCMA1
    DCMA1 Member Posts: 17
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    Hmm...Probably deteriorated Glycol....Generally it turns Acidic when it deteriorates.
    Combustion Gases should not have anything to do with this since this is a closed loop and the system fluid never gets in contact with the fire side. :)

    That's good info. Does it smell like turpentine too, when it deteriorates?

    I meant so much water is going out the flue with the leak that it's possible combustion gases are getting in, too, but agree that's unlikely.

  • DCMA1
    DCMA1 Member Posts: 17
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    I think certain bacteria love an acid environment.

    "A hyperthermophile is an organism that thrives in extremely hot environments—from 60 °C (140 °F) upwards."

    You're really scaring me now. I didn't need to know that. Think most things at hospitals are still disinfected with autoclaves. But I think that's unlikely, in this case. I hope....
  • DCMA1
    DCMA1 Member Posts: 17
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    Drain and flush the system, refill with Rhomar cleaner, leave in system 24-48 hrs, drain and flush. refill with Rhomar Pro-Tek. Or find a pro to do it, because a pump is required or a flush cart.

    Thanks for the specific recommendations for the cleaning process! I'll do that before having the boiler replaced, I have a pump and will help the pro save some time I imagine.
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,511
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    You're really scaring me now.

    You've been watching too many episodes of MASH. Autoclaves are a little behind the times.
    I attended a day long seminar on sterilization for the hospital specialists because my daughter is a nurse and I accompanied her. Sterilization is quite involved with many steps with many procedures that are required. Hospital disinfection is done in big machines.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,959
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    It depends on what they are sterilizing. If it is heat stable they use an autoclave, if it has parts that are heat sensitive they use chemicals.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,959
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    Or too large to fit in an autoclave.