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MEX Steam Boiler Cleaner

Hi Ken,

So much information is in you that it boggles the mind. Thanks for the pipe dope tips. When I mention this, I will be sure to give due credit to the guy from Jersey.

Best regards, Pat

Comments

  • Doug Oest
    Doug Oest Member Posts: 34
    MEX Steam Boiler Cleaner

    In Lost Art, Dan says you can get MEX in any paint or hardware store. Does anybody have a website for MEX? I'm looking for how much your suppose to add. I'll check Silver King's website too for Squick's instructions (if they have a website). But I'd really like to find more info on MEX.

    thanks
  • Firedragon_4
    Firedragon_4 Member Posts: 1,436
    MEX is

    trisodiumphosphate.
  • Rodney Summers
    Rodney Summers Member Posts: 748
    Well...

    Not really, but close enough. Even TSP, which used to stand for tri-sodium-phosphate, may be "compromised" because of ground water issues from phosphates. Many chemicals were banned for general use, like Tide, etc., but special isolated instances like boiler cleanings where trace amounts are used on an extremely infrequent basis, may be allowed in some areas.

    MEX was touted a the equal of TSP. We either found that generally to be a "stretch," or unavailable anyhow.

    We found the responsible thing to do is NOT drain TSP from boilers into floor drains. Instead, we put it all in 55-gallon drums, run up to the Mighty Passaic River and dump it into the head water. That way the shopping carts, tires and rotting, maggot infested dead carp on the banks have something to look forward to.

    Ya see, the alkaline phosphates neutralize the battery acids that make up 40% of the river's chemistry and the pH climbs from a dismal 3.2 up to 5.6. A huge imporvement, n'cest pa?

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  • Firedragon_4
    Firedragon_4 Member Posts: 1,436
    Mais oui and

    merci beaucoup!

    Bon chance!
  • Doug Oest
    Doug Oest Member Posts: 34
    MEX

    Well fella's, thanks. I don't know if I walk into Lowes or Home Depot and ask for MEX if I'll get a blank look or what but I'm gonna try it.

    I know Silver King is out of the east coast area and Squick is touted as one of the best cleaners out there. I have an email into their company to find out if their products are sold out west. I have our rep in Denver asking and I thought this MEX stuff would be the best. According to Dan, MEX isn't TSP. But I don't know if anybody can get their hands on it.

    I'll keep searching. Thanks for your responses. I loved the analogy on bringing the Ph of the river up-lol... good stuff!!

    If anyone has any other products they use (Hercules any good?), please let me know. I have heard rumor that laundry detergent is very good. Anybody have any experience with that? If so, how much do you use?

    Thanks
  • Rodney Summers
    Rodney Summers Member Posts: 748
    ooooooh,

    You don't want to do that!

    Squick is a floccing agent. It cleans nothing! It simply traps the floating junk, particulate matter and suspended solids and drops them to the boiler "floor" - just like swimming pool flocclants and then forms a damaging slime that hardens on the lowest part of the block and the gelatenase slime hardens and becomes a rigid and brittle "skin" on the iron and puts thermally active expansion and contraction stress on the base iron that can crack a boiler!

    A detergent is what you want, not a flocculant. You want the gook and junk out of the boiler - not stuck to the bottom!

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  • Firedragon_4
    Firedragon_4 Member Posts: 1,436
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    I have yet to use it...

    .... but I believe the Hydro-Solv and Pro-Tek products sold by George at Rhomar Water Systems ought to do the trick. Given them a ring and George will be able to help you from diagnosing problems via a sample you can send him to proposing a solution that ought to work.

    I bought the cleaner and the conditioner. Now I just have to get my contractor to use the product at the onset of the next heating season. Should be fun.
  • Doug Oest
    Doug Oest Member Posts: 34
    Ok Thanks

    Thanks for that tidbit. But yea, if you use it, you shouldn't leave it in the boiler, drain it out and then flush the boiler several times.
  • Doug Oest
    Doug Oest Member Posts: 34
    You're the best Firedragon

    Perfect. You found it. Their it is. MEX

    UGI. Shoulda known.

    THANKS GEORGE!!!
  • Doug Oest
    Doug Oest Member Posts: 34
    Another great site

    Constantin- THANKS!! Here's another great site.

    You really gotta love THE WALL.

    Thanks again fella's, this was a really big help!!
  • George_10
    George_10 Member Posts: 580
    We have two new products for

    home steam systems. A cleaner and a treatment product.

    take a look at www.rhomarwater.com

    They are under residential steam systems. Products.
  • patrick linhardt
    patrick linhardt Member Posts: 134
    cleaners

    Hi Ken,

    We have been selling a cleaner here at the old supply house for god knows how long by S.O.S. Products called One Hour Cleaner (OHC). It really seems to do a good job of getting the oil out. It coagulates the oil so it can be flushed out of the boiler. Have you any experience with it? Your description of the Squick has me concerned. The instructions for the OHC have the service tech flushing the treatment out of the boiler, and I always believed that it got out and didn't stick around as you describe.

    Are you using the term flocculant to mean the same as a coagulant? Webster has about the same definition for both as it relates to our chemical reactions. In my previous discussions with the manufacturer about their cleaner, they say coagulate so it can be flushed, not floculated so it sinks.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated. Of course there is always the tried and true, a good skimming.

    Best regards, Pat
  • Rodney Summers
    Rodney Summers Member Posts: 748
    I suspect the S.O.S. product

    is identical to Squick, but have used neither in the past 20 years. Not since I saw what the results of the debris settling to the floor of the boiler block - and then fired on and off for months - did to the block.

    It cracked from stress. The co-efficient of expansion of the scab that forms from the "dropped" flocculant matter, when heated (naturally the highest block temperature occurs at the base, closest to the flame) cracked the casting(s)

    The forces are similar, if not identical to, hard water deposits (Calcium Carbonate) that leeches out of suspension on the hottest interior surface of the C.I. boiler block (again, where the flame is closest) and voids the warranty is all cases.

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  • Firedragon_4
    Firedragon_4 Member Posts: 1,436
    No problem,

    here's the link to the other stuff!

    http://www.kekit.com/
  • patrick linhardt
    patrick linhardt Member Posts: 134
    cleaning technique

    Hi Ken,

    How do you clean a new install or an existing boiler that has oil on the waterline?

    Best regards, Pat
  • Rodney Summers
    Rodney Summers Member Posts: 748
    Because time is money...

    We have found the long, tedious and so misunderstood method that works best for us goes as follows:

    1) Drain whatever is in the boiler, out. Including the CRP (condensate return piping) and of course, LWCO, if a chamber type (as opposed to a probe type).

    2) Fill the boiler to the NOWL (normal operating water level) with clean water. Add 1/2 a cup of real TSP per 100MBTU's of input, preferably dissolved in hot tap water, into the pressure relief tapping with a funnel or into the skim tapping using a full size nipple with turned up ell to get it into the block. Use a whole cup of TSP per 100MBTU, if the boiler is really filthy.

    3) Fire the boiler until a horizontal steam pipe ~3 feet away from the riser(s) gets too hot to touch. That implies the boiler is close to steaming. YOU DO NOT WANT TO SHOOT ANY TSPed WATER INTO THE MAINS ! Should that happen, you will be disturbing the mains and all connected piping and radiation of 50+ years of stable "mud" which hurts nothing, and be married to the job because once you loosen the old oxides that were firmly attached to the pipe walls, they will go back into solution and drain back to the boiler, taking months to remove from the low point of the system.

    4) Turn off the boiler and drain the condensate return line low point, the boiler block and the LWCO body.

    5) After a complete draining, refill the boiler with clean water and setup the skim port with the largest diameter pipe you can, e.g., W/M EG's have a 1½" tap. We stick a 1½ X ~16" blk. nipp. in there. Slowly fill the boiler until the water drools out of the skim tap nipp. into a 5-gallon plastic pail. Fire the boiler. Continue adding feedwater at a rate that would have the 5-gallon pail fill in about 3 minutes. When the drool begins to become violent and spurty, flip the burner switch off and allow the boiler to go back to simply discharging hot water - instead of near steaming. Two pails makes sense. Switch pails so the process is somewhat continous.

    6) Do this until the presence of the "rainbow" effect on the pail's water surface is totally absent. Keep skimming until the water comes out as clear as drinking water. This may take as little as 15 minutes, or as long as an hour.

    7) When you are satisfied that no more contaminates are in the block, put a pipe cap on the skim pipe and leave it there for next time this may need to be done.

    8) Make the boiler steam or minimally go to at least 180° water temp briefly. This drives off all the oxygen from the new fill. Shut it off. You're ready to put the boiler back into service as needed.

    9) It is impractical to skim large boilers. That is not to say it cannot be done, but it is far faster and quicker to TSP the boiler, using the same rate of 1/2 cup per 100MBTU of input, it is obvious a 200 HP boiler would take LOTS of TSP to clean. We found a source of Chinese made TSP that runs around a buck-and-a-quarter a pound.

    10) TSP is alkaline. Trace amounts will linger and this is a good thing. We know that when boiler water goes to a pH of 10, virtually all rusting/corrosion is stopped. Anything that raises the pH of the system is a good thing - as long as it does not induce priming & surging or "foaming."

    11) As an aside, make sure the pressuretrol never lets the boiler go over 2 p.s.i. Doing so increases the probability of the boiler priming and surging. It also wastes fuel. If it's a vapor system, the operating pressure should be half that, or less.

    12) Last "secret." Don't use pipe dopes that are oil based! When heated, the dope softens and will leach the paste "oils" into the piping thread ends, drool back to the boiler and contaminate the water with surface oils that make a clean boiler water, dirty all over again! We have found this process can continue for an entire heating season! As a result, we use teflon tape ONLY on all steam boiler piping. We use the blue, alcohol based "Leak Lok" on the smaller pipes, i.e., gage glass, LWCO, pressuretrol, gage, etc.

    Hope this helps.

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  • patrick linhardt
    patrick linhardt Member Posts: 134
    many thanks

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for sharing this info. I love to hear about the different methods used to accomplish the same purpose, i.e. clean up the water in a low pressure steam system.

    I like the descriptive term for slowly allowing the water to go out the skim tapping, "drools". That puts it in terms we can all understand.

    Great tip on the pipe dope. I'm heading to the warehouse to check out our top sellers. I hadn't heard that one.

    If anyone else wants to share, I would love to hear your methods and reasons, and I think a lot of other guys would too. Thanks again Ken. Cleaning is so essential to good steaming.

    Best regards, Pat
  • Rodney Summers
    Rodney Summers Member Posts: 748
    Pat,

    the brand, "Leak Lock" is irrelevent. The chemical base however, we believe is critical! So called "oil-based" pipe dopes like "LaCo pipe dope w/teflon" "Slik-Tite w/teflon" may be oil-based.

    Besides steam boilers, we occassionally mate plastics and metal fittings at transitions. I just found this link which is extremely revealing!
    http://www.hunterindustries.com/Resources/Technical_Bulletins/pipe_dope.html

    Dan was kind enough to allow my amateur opinion to be posted in his acrchives under the heading "Pipe Dope" - by Ken Secor. I suspect I am one of the few who stumbled upon the base chemical of pipe dopes having a major effect on steam boiler piping and steam quality relationships.

    Again, I reiterate my opinion: "Oil based pipe dopes should NOT be used on near boiler piping nor, for that matter, ANYWHERE on any threads of a steam system! This would include: angle stops, rad vents, main vents, risers, mains, feed, condensate returns, LWCO's, controls, safety relief valves, gage glass cocks, probe type LWCO's - in other words; only dry teflon tape, or alcohol based dopes LIKE Leak Lock...

    The gas pipe going to a gas steamer? NO TEFLON TAPE! Use the oil based, OR alcohol based stuff. Teflon tape is verboten because the "chaff," "fray," or "hair" (call it whatever you wish) that is created inside the pipe when snugged up, could potentially fly off and get blown downstream into extremely delicate gas components.

    And yeah. We know all about not putting teflon on the first two threads. We also know that if pigs could fly...

    Since steam is a gas, and vents are also somewhat suseptible to being clogged by stray teflon "fray," we always "dry-fit" them. No dope at all. There really is no need. 1/8" brass into cast iron rads? Even 3/4" main vents never leak. We dry fit them always.

    Hope that helps.



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  • patrick linhardt
    patrick linhardt Member Posts: 134
    did some looking

    Hi Ken,

    I checked the pipe dopes we sell here at the old supply house. Four of the five most popular ones are fine, just one is oil-based. I never would have suspected this one. I thought that the black stuff might be oil-based, but the culprit is a typical white dope. I'm writing a memo to alert everyone here. Thank you again for the post, I hope others are aware or become aware. It's guys like you.....

    What are we going to do when you retire? Do they have the internet where you are going?

    Best regards, Pat
  • George_10
    George_10 Member Posts: 580
    Revisiting steam cleaner and treatment

    Our cleaner for residential steam systems, is a detergent and dispersant which will help to keep the gunk in suspension which allows the system to be flushed. We also have amines in it which will go out into the steam lines and help to clean them. For more info go to www.rhomarwater.com and look under residential steam products.

    We also have a treatment product which will protect the system and prevent corrosion and scale.

    PRODUCT NAMES Hydro-Solv 9150 cleaner and Boiler Pro 903
    treatment.

    There are folks on this site who are using these products and will give their opinion of these two products.
  • Jerry_15
    Jerry_15 Member Posts: 379


    Helloooo- pipe dope goes on the outside of the pipe, it can't get into the system!!! The oil is from the thread cutting and assembly. I wipe down the inside of the pipe after threading, and spray it with orangina, and wipe again. Saves a bunch of hassle later.
  • Jerry_15
    Jerry_15 Member Posts: 379


    Oh come on. Everyone knows regular teflon ain't legal on gas, that's why they make the pink and yellow stuff, with much thicker mil. I don't bother on gas, blue glue works fine, but I use the fancy colored stuff for problem joints on old fittings. Would you please explain to me how pipe dope would get into the system, unless of course a liberal coating was applied to the female threads; but who would do something like that?
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