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Are there any chemical additives to eliminate soot deposit on heat exchanger?

cowdog
cowdog Member Posts: 75
edited June 19 in Oil Heating
Soot deposit on heat exchanger is a headache for any oil heating appliance.

Are there any chemicals that can stop soot from forming or depositing? Can we add this chemical to the fuel, or spray it periodically to clean out soot on heat exchanging surfaces?

Is it possible to have a motor-driven scraper to scrape the heat exchanging surfaces periodically? Why don't household oil heaters use it?


Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,150
    Wouldn't that be nice. Not that I know of. Your best bet is to prevent or at least reduce it in the first place by correct combustion adjustments.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    STEVEusaPASTEAM DOCTOREdTheHeaterManGGross
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,725
    If your burner is properly set up, it’s an easy clean, not a headache at all.
    And almost never any soot on a modern appliance.
    steve
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 613
    edited June 20
    Since most of my work was done on large commercial and industrial boilers I can only speak of those. If the boiler only had a small amount of soot I would lean the fire slightly which would usually consume the soot and clean the boiler. If a tube boiler was sooted somewhat by firing #2 fuel oil, by the antiquated burners that were all over Pennsylvania, you could switch to natural gas and fire that boiler to clean the tubes. A newer burner that is set up correctly will not produce soot unless you have a really cold heating surface. Cleaning a sooted boiler is a very hard, dirty, and time consuming job that nobody likes to do. Just ask the guys that have to do that job. So make sure that the burner is set up correctly.

    as to your inquiry about a product to clean soot from a boiler, there are a few made, and I have probably tried them all with little success. As an example, I tried a product called "soot sticks" many years ago on an a large H B SMITH steam boiler. I got the unit hot and threw in a couple cases of that product and ended up having to remove the resulting mess. So I never found anything that worked as the MFG stated.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,336
    edited June 20
    In the 1970s The oil company where I learned the trade had a "Clean Burning Oil Heat" campaign in order to compete with the Natural Gas Utility advertisements about "Clean Burning Natural GAS". Part of this campaign included 3 chemicals. The fuel oil additive APC-30, a liquid soot remover that was actually pumped thru the fuel pump, and a degreaser that was used like Spray 9 or Fantastic to clean the equipment after the annual tune-up to make the furnace/boiler Jacket look like new. I remember using the fittings with clear hoses to connect the 1 gallon metal can full of soot remover to the fuel pump. Operate burner for 10 minutes. Watch the soot actually burn off the surface of the HX. Then the white residue that was left could be brushed away with a soft brush, and left in the bottom of the heat exchanger.

    This was great to use if the boiler had 3/8" coating or more of the fluffy soot. (similar to the soot in your photo) Not so much on the scale and other deposits normally found on a HX that was normally found when the oil burner was set up to burn clean in the first place.

    As oil heat customers converted to gas heat in the 70s, 80, and 90, and the clean burning flame retention burners like Carlin and Beckett became more popular, there was less soot to remove and the company that marketed the products went out of business. So there is a liquid chemical that can be pumped thru the fuel pump and nozzle that will remove that soot, I just don't know where to get it, or even if it is available for retail use.

    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,076
    edited June 20

    If your burner is properly set up, it’s an easy clean, not a headache at all.
    And almost never any soot on a modern appliance.

    To back up what Steve said,

    Back in 2012 I tuned two oil burners for a friend completely by eye to get him back up and running after changing the nozzles and unclogging the sooted up boilers. I told him he needed to have someone come in and tune them properly but he had heat and it was fine to run for the time being. I think it was Christmas Eve or new years or something but one of the boilers was so packed with soot it was filling the basement with smoke so I helped him.

    Him being who he was, didn't and they ran for four years without being touched. In 2016 they were still both completely soot free.

    That was two Beckett AFG burners tuned only by eye. One of which was in a 1920s-30s Redflash converted coal boiler with baffles.


    In my opinion if you've got soot, something is very very wrong.
    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
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • Labenaqui
    Labenaqui Member Posts: 50
    Combining a Pressure-Fired Beckett NX Oil Burner with a Weil-McLain Three-Pass Boiler yields zero soot and minimal fly ash, dependent upon fuel quality. We do "annuals" every two/three years and have tested up to five years. Ultimately the limit is fuel quality/filter service.
    When I began with my Dad 67 years ago, we were nicknamed "Soot Chasers" ..... no more!
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,223
    What product do you need if you're burning tires?
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,955
    cowdog said:
    Soot deposit on heat exchanger is a headache for any oil heating appliance. Are there any chemicals that can stop soot from forming or depositing? Can we add this chemical to the fuel, or spray it periodically to clean out soot on heat exchanging surfaces? Is it possible to have a motor-driven scraper to scrape the heat exchanging surfaces periodically? Why don't household oil heaters use it?
    A properly sized, installed and set up with a combustion analyzer doesn’t need one. 
  • cowdog
    cowdog Member Posts: 75
    pecmsg said:



    A properly sized, installed and set up with a combustion analyzer doesn’t need one. 
    It's a negotiation between fuel and equipment. Improvement on equipment will be "eaten up" by using a dirtier fuel.

    It's just like computer software become bloated and inefficient while computer hardware and networks become faster.

    It will need one if they switch from oil to waste oil, pyrolysis oil or emulsified #6 fuel oil. Because there are demand, we need to develop universal burners and wide compatible cleaning chemicals and protocols.

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,076
    cowdog said:

    pecmsg said:



    A properly sized, installed and set up with a combustion analyzer doesn’t need one. 
    It's a negotiation between fuel and equipment. Improvement on equipment will be "eaten up" by using a dirtier fuel.

    It's just like computer software become bloated and inefficient while computer hardware and networks become faster.

    It will need one if they switch from oil to waste oil, pyrolysis oil or emulsified #6 fuel oil. Because there are demand, we need to develop universal burners and wide compatible cleaning chemicals and protocols.



    Are you building something to use waste oil for an industrial piece of equipment or are you trying to piece all of this together to heat your house?

    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
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,955
    cowdog said:

    pecmsg said:



    A properly sized, installed and set up with a combustion analyzer doesn’t need one. 
    It's a negotiation between fuel and equipment. Improvement on equipment will be "eaten up" by using a dirtier fuel.

    It's just like computer software become bloated and inefficient while computer hardware and networks become faster.

    It will need one if they switch from oil to waste oil, pyrolysis oil or emulsified #6 fuel oil. Because there are demand, we need to develop universal burners and wide compatible cleaning chemicals and protocols.

    Homeowners don't like the cost of equipment now...................Multiple fuel burning is a long long way out!
    mattmia2
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,336
    Necessity is the mother of invention!. Currently there is no need to mass produce a motorized soot removal apparatus.@cowdog may be on to something though.  Once we are regulated into a fossil fuel free world, there will be a black market for ant type of fuel that will keep the poor folks that still have coal converted boilers and furnaces in their basement.   Since the fuel quality won’t be regulated, you never know what’s gonna end up on the walls of those heat exchangers. Someone who invents  a cleaning device for sooty heat exchangers could make a fortune. 

    I hope no one takes this particular comment seriously :smile::smile:>:)
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    pecmsg