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How best to rid steam system of dirty water?



I have a bottom blow off valve, and another valve to close to isolate the system, and a third valve that is a ball valve right off the bottom of the infeed/refeed/intake. But what is the best way? I have tried to drain here and there, replace with water - but i dont think im doing it the right way. Or does the murkey water not matter? (last year a new system and after skimming it was super clean/clear).

Comments

  • Subdural
    Subdural Member Posts: 35
    the red arrow goes to the ball valve - not seen in the photo.
  • hadeone
    hadeone Member Posts: 63
    edited December 2023
    Does the boiler have a valve on it? Usually near the bottom, with a hose spout. Drain it there and if you want to go nuts drain it at the return line valve, the lowest one in your second picture. Shut down and wait for the boiler to cool down so you don't burn yourself and don't fill up a hot boiler with cold water.

    The water gets rusty, it's somewhat normal. I'll let others that know more comment on raising the ph of your water to stop rust.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,573
    edited December 2023
    There are two issues that may be at play:

    1. sediment of rust over some amount of time that was allowed to stack up that frees up periodically and clouds your water
    2. new rust being formed continually

    These can of course be in combination. Ironically, your draining and refilling of the boiler causes more rust to form due to the oxygen that comes in with the fresh water (oxygen is driven out of the water when it's heated/boiled)

    The answer to both of them, IMHO, is careful use of a rust inhibitor additive such as "8-way".

    These additives tend to break loose sedimented rust and they also prevent new rust by raising the PH of your water.

    But be careful because the instructions often advise you to use more than you need or want.

    In this case, I would let the boiler cool off for a few hours, then drain it completely and fill it and add about 1/2 of the amount of 8-way called for (or until your PH is 10-11).

    Then let the boiler run for a week or so and if it's got brown water again, drain it and reapply 8-way again. Repeat this a few times if needed until most or all of the sedimented rust/mud has broken free.

    Then fill it once again, and add enough 8-way until the PH is 10-11 and let it ride for the rest of the season. Repeat every year until the water stays clear. As long as your PH is 10-11, you will greatly minimize formation of new rust.

    PS: I like to drain mainly from the lowest drain point that is directly on the boiler, but you can also drain a little from each of the other points to prevent buildup of the rust "mud" in those places.

    PPS: Once your water is clean and staying that way, only drain off a little bit every year or two, again to prevent buildup of "mud" at the low areas of the boiler. No sense draining clean water.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,786
    If you can take the time to skim the boiler, but at the water line for an extended amount of time.
    Let the water trickle for a few days skimming from the water line.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,573
    Let the water trickle for a few days skimming from the water line


    Do you mean hours?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • hadeone
    hadeone Member Posts: 63
    Just grab some blankets and get cozy while you're boiler is skimming over the weekend.
    Intplm.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,786
    edited December 2023

    Let the water trickle for a few days skimming from the water line


    Do you mean hours?
    Forty-eight hours or more if you can stand it.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,573
    I'm sorry, but that can't be serious. A skimming session might take an hour or two, then can be repeated after a week or so. This will remove oil from the water surface, but is not necessarily related to the issue here which seems to be brown water throughout.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Intplm.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,786

    I'm sorry, but that can't be serious. A skimming session might take an hour or two, then can be repeated after a week or so. This will remove oil from the water surface, but is not necessarily related to the issue here which seems to be brown water throughout.

    Hey there @ethicalpaul
    Yes, it's serious.
    Considering that the new boiler was clear at a time last year but is murky now, plus the fact that the OP asks what the "best way" to rid the boiler of said water is.
    They also state that they don't believe that they are doing it right.
    I believe this statement because they mention nothing about skimming and don't show a water line skim port in their pictures.
    However. Your comment as to employing skimming sessions is a fine idea but might become laborious because it will most likely have to be done countless times.
    @Subdural try either one. Hopefully, you will get this done without too much trouble.

    P.S. Just finished a steam boiler replacement and was fortunate enough to allow the boiler to skim for an entire weekend.
    Never have I been able to apply such a skim time. It worked beautifully.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    So with the extended long skimming, the boiler was not steaming or just simmering?

    Or was it a heat up to steam, shut down burner and then skim that batch of water to cold?

    I can imagine the water in the boiler being clean and free of oils, but how about the oils that are out in the system? They will eventually return.

    IMO, it is better to skim several times with heating/boiling operation happening between skims to bring back oils etc.