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Cleaning New Steam Boiler

Jay_10 Member Posts: 4
I am interviewing contractors for replacing a one-pipe steam boiler. As per Dan's book, I have been asking contractors whether they will clean the boiler following the manufacturer's guidelines. I've seen that both Weil McLain's and Burnham's website have instructions on how to clean the oil from the new boiler and piping using chemical compounds (trisodium phosphate or other compounds) in the boiler.

Most of the contractors I've been interviewing dismiss the notion of cleaning the boiler per mfr instuctions as part of the installation. They propose to "do nothing", "run the boiler at high pressure and drain sediment and oil from the mud leg valve" or "install a skim tap and skim the oil of the new boiler from the surface of the boiler water. One contractor has suggested that using these chemicals to skim the oil from the boiler will damage the pipes, cause existing piping dirt to get into the boiler further causing banging in the pipes (which we don't have now) and creating leaks in the pipes (by clearing away dry sediment that may be plugging a leak now(?)). Are they right? Are any of these other methods of skimming the oil effective or should I insist the contractor I pick follows mfr guidelines to the letter?

Only one contractor agrees to follow the manufacturer guidelines for cleaning as the proper thing to do, but that contractor has given me suspect answers in other areas of installation.

Also the contractors I have been interviewing have offered the Burnham Independence, the Weil McLain EG series, and a Crown boiler (he views Crown as having newer technology--but hasn't give me a model number yet). Any intrinsic reason to prefer one of these over the other?

Thanks in advance,

Jae So


  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,447
    Any contractor that doesn't clean the system and the new boiler

    is a knucklehead.

    Ask them why the manufacturers give these instructions. My guess is that they'll tell you the manufacturers don't know what they're talking about. Knuckleheads!
    Retired and loving it.
  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,010
    we tell our customers

    that we will hot skim/drain/ hot skim the boiler till we are happy with the waterline and gauge glass quality..we tell them we will be back several times doing this and sometimes we are back 4 or five times cleaning the boiler..we also inform them this is normal and we expect to do this..but we dont like using chemicals to clean with..only one boiler did we have to use tsp in..then we had to get the tsp out...soooo back to skimming we went...we intend to have the boiler installation customer as our service customer for life, so we approach the job that way..we also tell the customer we are not cheap, and will not be the lowest bid..i'd rather go back for an additional skimming than use soap in the boiler..i'm sure my boss doesn't make as much profit as other guys do, but when we get done, we have a customer for life, and their neighbors, and their kids....
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • Firedragon_4
    Firedragon_4 Member Posts: 1,436
    Easy there Dan,

    you as many of us tech writers know that just because it's written down they'll actually read it and do it, FACT! Keep in mind that the thicker the book, the better it is to kneel on as you pray for forgiveness :-)
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    Has anyone ever tried this:

    The boating industry has the same problem as you guys - how to get rid of oil out of bilge water.

    The fix: fibrous matts that are hydrophobic but oil-philic. I would think that with a small suction hose/pump and one of these filters you could continously cycle the water inside the boiler/heating system for a day (i.e. leave the pump there) and then know that the oil is out when you come back.

    See as an example (not the one I used, but I cannot find that one right now). The idea remains the same.
  • Nron_9
    Nron_9 Member Posts: 237

    can the filter and pump accept hot water and still work properly or does the filter break down
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    That's a question for the manufacturer...

    I don't see why it wouldn't work, but I'm not omniscient! I believe 3M is the actual fiber manufacturer. Cheers!
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,863
    True, and

    One of the best things to do during a boiler replacement is to flush out the wet returns while they are disconnected (assuming you're not replacing the returns too). This is where a lot of gunk settles. You sure don't want that getting into the boiler, where you will have to clean it out.

    Then install suitable drains on the returns near the boiler so you can hook up a hose to the main vent openings and flush the returns periodically (what, you don't have main vents? Head over to the Find a Professional page fast!).

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
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