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The case of the leaking 7 year old steam boiler this Fridays case

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RayWohlfarth
RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,555

The brewery shuddered its doors suddenly, letting at the employees go. Everything was left as it was. Fast forward nine months and the new owner is looking over the equipment and called us in. We discovered several tubes were leaking and the boiler was only 7 years old. Prior to shutdown, the old brewmaster had a water treatment program and was diligent about it. What caused the tubes to fail? I will let you know Friday at 6am EST

Respectfully

Ray

Ray Wohlfarth
Boiler Lessons

Comments

  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 930
    edited July 3
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    The best outcome for the boiler would have been to drain the boiler and store it totally dry or the second best case would be to fill the boiler to the nozzle, add the proper amount of treatment to store the boiler, and heat the water until it steamed and then close all valves for total isolation. My guess would be that they did neither of these and instead just shut off the electricity and left the boiler filled to the normal water line. During the shutdown oxygen ladened water entered the boiler through a leaking feed valve or bypass valve and ruined the tubes. You did not say if the tubes went bad internally or externally but if they went bad from the outside then the tubes could have been excessively sooted and the humidity in the building was high and could have produced an acid that ruined the tubes.

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,840
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    Too much MU water would be my guess. If they take on a lot of MU water it should be heated.

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
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    It was a Burnham?

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
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  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,840
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    @ethicalpaul

    Ray mentioned tubes which would point towards a steel boiler.

    ethicalpaul
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,962
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    If the boiler was off for 9 months there was plenty of opportunity for air to circulate through the system and add oxygen to the water to rust the boiler, especially at the surface of the water.

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
    edited July 3
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    I guess if I have to explain a joke, it's not funny 😂

    Thanks Ed!

    If the boiler was off for 9 months there was plenty of opportunity for air to circulate through the system and add oxygen to the water to rust the boiler, especially at the surface of the water.

    What would allow air to circulate in boiler?

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,962
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    The various venting in the system. If there is no steam then the steam traps will be open. whatever path that the air uses to get out will be open to the atmosphere.

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,922
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    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: 5,795
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    If that was a concern, wouldn't all boilers rot out every summer?

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
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  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,555
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    Happy Friday

    The reason the boiler failed was the water was laying in the boiler for 9 months with no chemical treatment. It caused oxygen pitting and it turns out several of the tubes were leaking. The brewer had to retube the boiler.

    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
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    And/Or however it was operated during the rest of its lifetime—there is no data as to the condition of the tubes when they shut it down.

    I ask again out of my own ignorance, and for my education, if 9 months of sitting rots out a boiler how do boilers survive the summer? Are the steel boilers a lot more prone to rotting out with water sitting in them vs cast iron? Do all steel boilers have treated water?

    PS: you kind of tricked us with this question Ray 😀

    You said

    > Prior to shutdown, the old brewmaster had a water treatment program and was diligent about it.

    So some gremlin drained the water treatment that must have been in there from when the brewmaster shut it down on his last day and replaced it with extremely caustic water instead?

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,840
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    It would seem to me that if the water was treated and if the boiler had been run to drive out the oxygen than it should have been ok for 9 months.

    Most would recommend either filling the boiler before shutdown (wet layup) or draining it before shutdown (dry layup)

    Steel boiler can last a long time even on steam. I would suspect the tubes were compromised before the shut down

    ethicalpaul
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,555
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    @ethicalpaul I did not mean to trick you. We were at the brewery about two months before closing and didnt see any leaks When I spoke with my water treatment tech, he blamed it on the lack of water treatment

    @EBEBRATT-Ed The tubes may have been leaking prior to the shutdown

    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    ethicalpaul
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 930
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    Before I retired in 2007, some of the "fly by night" companies would sell boiler tubes made in China. They were garbage and did not last very long.

  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,555
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    @retiredguy I never knew that but have seen the nipples made in china fail within a year

    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons