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.

Aluminum and long term maintenace/problems

LD Member Posts: 26
Some people told me to stay away from boilers that use any aluminum parts. They claim there will be constant maintenance required on glycol/inhibitors:

1. What do you think about aluminum used in a boiler?
More and more new units seem to use it.

2. Do non-aluminum (cast iron, or stainless) boilers
require any chemicals in the water or is it pure water?


  • Tom Meyer
    Tom Meyer Member Posts: 300
    Your questions

    1. Check out the Weil-McLain Ultra for an example of aluminum technology. The jury is still out on how it will react in the long term, but Weil-McLain told us the expected life of the Ultra is 10-15 years.

    2. Any additives to pure water are put there for specific purposes. Under ideal conditions, 100% water is preferred. Check with a professional who is experienced in water and system evaluations.

    Senior Designer/Trainer
    Precision Hydronics Corporation
  • kevin
    kevin Member Posts: 420
    i am wary...

    of aluminum as hx. One of the reasons is seeing how aluminum reacts over time exposed to water/sweating ie. the older PB rings. In almost every case the ring had fallen apart. I like trying new stuff but I also hope I leadrn from others mistakes.
    10-15 years does not seem like a lot of time before you have to change out a boiler....I can see 15-20...and I do hope that in that time frame there will be the next big thing in boilers....time will tell. kpc
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 21,866
    Learning to live with mixed metals

    As the push for more efficient, smaller, and lighter boilers moves forward, remember. Manufactures will look beyond the traditional cast iron, steel and copper choices we all know and love. Aluminum certainly fits nicely in the heat transfer equasion.

    Perhaps the best heat transfer plates are heavy gauge aluminum for this reason :)

    Aluminum has been used sucessfully in the automotive industry for some time now. Hard to imagine a harsher enviroment than an internal combustion engine regarding thermal stress and wide temperature swings. What about outboard boat motors. They have learned to embrace aluminum and it's alloys very sucessfully. Chemical energy converted to mechanical energy and heat, very similar to a boiler.

    Yes, attention to the water and combustion side of the material will be crucial. Condensing temperatures bring yet another challange to the equasion with the aggressive condensate. Keep in ming stainless and virtually any metal or alloy all have a break point and a tolerance level.

    Careful and frequent check up WILL be needed with high tech equipment and newer materials. The progressive contractors will see this and hopefully take the time to learn the procedures needed to maintain these new generation equipment.

    This will distance them from the competition and increase their value $$ in the marketplace. Join em or fight em. Current conditions in our world should really drive home the point of energy conservation and high efficiency fossil fueled technology know how.

    Products, procedures and knowledgable help is out there. Study up on the required methods before installing any new aged stuff, would be my advise. Certainly mistakes will be made and leasons learned by failures, but this is often the price of progress. We would learn very little by sticking to the old ways and materials.

    hot rod

    ps every single person on this list should read this book, authored by engineer Henry Petroski. It really opens one's eye to the complex and often unknow world of design/ build. Thanks Robert and Dale.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • LD
    LD Member Posts: 26
    W-M Ultra - Only 10-15 years?

    I'm not a contractor. I'm just trying to find out if I want any aluminum in the boiler for my new house.

    If the W-M Ultra only lasts 10-15 years then I think I'll look elsewhere. I thought boilers should last for 20+ years. Even a forced air furnace will last close to 20.

    Can anyone guess how long a cast iron Burnham or a stainless Viessmann Vitodens will last?

  • My concerns about aluminum in copper systems...

    Many years ago, when I was heavily involved in the solar hydronic business, we had a problem with a bunch of supply and return lines turning into Swiss cheese, pin holes springing up every where.

    We cut samples of the pipe out and sent them to the CDA, who promptly returned a report to us stating that the pipes had failed due to aluminum particles floating through the system fluid. We thought, where the heck would aluminum be coming from? Further investigation found that when the installation crews were cutting the aluminum support legs for the solar panels that they were putting the square stock on top of empty 5 gallon buckets, and using sawzalls to cut the stock. Later, these same buckets were emptied, and became the mixing buckets for the system glycol.

    The final synopsis was that the few particles of aluminum that weren't shook out of the buckets made it into the system fluid, and as they bounced merrily along thepipng system displace a few molecules of aluminum onto the pourous copper surface and set up a dissimilar metal mix, AKA electrolysis.

    That concerns me about the use of aluminum in copper systems. The other thing that concerns me is the need for continual pH testing. When was the last time you checked the pH of your system fluid?

    When was the last time you checked the pH of your customers fluid?

    When was the last time you checked the air pressure of your automobiles tires?

    I suppose schedules can be set and met, but at what additional expense, and for what additional benefit..

This discussion has been closed.