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Frequent clogging of pigtail

I have seen some discussions re: cleaning out clogged pigtails on steam boilers but my issue is a little different: I have an 84 year old house with a one pipe steam system and a Weil-McLain Gold boiler about 15+ years old. The pigtail leading to the pressuretrol has been clogging with increasing frequency and now requires clean out about every 60 days. I'm told this is from sediment in the old pipes. Is there any way to address this in a more effective way than having the company out that frequently to remove/clean the pigtail?

Comments

  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,088
    What material is the pigtail made out of? If it's steel, that's probably the biggest part of the problem. If it is steel, request they change it to brass.

    I can't think of any other reason it would clog that often, the connection is above the water line of the boiler and will only see steam, what may be in you wet return (the only pipes that typically crud up), shouldn't have anything to do with it.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ethicalpaul
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,126
    @WilliamLippman

    What @KC_Jones said a brass pigtail is highly recommended. A brass pigtail mounted above the water line if cleaned every 3 years or so is usually not an issue.

    Can you post a picture of how your is mounted? Their may be a better location. Some used to mount them on top of the low water cut off which is not the best location.

    Your service company could put a couple of fittings on their so you could easily clean it yourself if you are handy
  • WilliamLippman
    WilliamLippman Member Posts: 5
    I'm not sure but from the color of the pipe I'd say it's brass, possibly copper.

  • mygardenshed
    mygardenshed Member Posts: 51
    Taking a shot here but shouldn't that pig tail be mounted vertically?
  • WilliamLippman
    WilliamLippman Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for the responeses. This is a better view of where the pigtail is mounted on the boiler. (We also get hot water from it circulated to a mega-stor tank)

  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,088
    Definitely a brass pigtail, and it is installed per the Weil Mclain manual. That is a strange one to be sure. It definitely shouldn't clog that much. I have 3 of those going on 7 years and have yet to clean them once.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,126
    Looks like it is brass so that's good. You could unscrew the pressure gauge and blow into the boiler with the boiler shutoff and no steam of course.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,817
    The next time a company comes out you could have them take the pigtail out and there is probably a bushing it is screwed into, it could be removed and a 1/2 or 3/4" nipple with a tee installed. The other end of the tee would have a nipple with a cap for you to remove and insure the pipe is clean going into the boiler.

    Then the branch (side fitting of the tee) could have a 1/2" riser reducing to 1/4" for the pigtail you have now with the control and gauge above the pigtail. It may require some extra 1/4" brass fittings or nipples.
    The higher the riser is the better.

    IMO, any junk that wants to enter the pigtail would then have to travel uphill.
    Now it could enter and not drain out in the horizontal position.

    Then you can remove the cap, brush into the boiler, remove the gauge and blow into the pigtail to ensure it is open. Then put the cap back on the nipple and prime the pigtail with some water, reinstall the gauge.

    If they balk at removing the bushing, which can be tough, then plug that 1/4" opening and put the tee to the right in that pipe (I believe that is the skim port--actually is usually a larger pipe). They can put another tee pointing down for the hose bib skimming.
    In any event you want to be able to simply remove a cap to check straight into the boiler.
  • WilliamLippman
    WilliamLippman Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for the suggestion! I'll go over that with them. I think they'll be willing to try anything that solves the problem - doubt they enjoy these trips to unclog it (which somehow have the habit of happening on weekends)
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,756
    If there's that much gunk above the water line, you might be due for a skim.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    mattmia2EBEBRATT-Ed
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 873
    That pig tail should be mounted vertically.

    Jake
  • WilliamLippman
    WilliamLippman Member Posts: 5
    The suggestions are much appreciated. I have one more question: since it is apparently steam and not water that is traveling up through the pigtail, is it possible for the steam to contain contaminants in the steam that collect and eventually clog the pipe? Is there a way to check the quality of the steam from the boiler?
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,756
    Steam is about as pure as it gets. Contaminants might be carried in suspended water droplets, but steam is just water in the vapor state. Also, the steam should not be getting past the water in the loop of the pigtail. Pigtails are also called steam traps. They keep the steam from reaching the equipment that's mounted on them.

    Since the pigtail is mounted just above the water line, any oily scum that might be floating on top of the water can easily slosh into the pigtail when the water is boiling, and if that's the case, this gunk is also impeding the separation of steam from the water, giving you a rough boil. Skimming is the way to see if there's anything there and remove it if it's there.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24