Boiler treatment

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Glenn Brooks
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Boiler treatment

Post by Glenn Brooks » Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:26 pm

I need to stock up on boiler water treatment additive. But, lots of questions... Anybody selling boiler treatment these days? What does everyone recommend?

And, What exactly is the chemical composition of boiler water treatment?

Can it be mixed up at home with OTC materials??

Thanks much,
Glenn
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cbrew
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Re: Boiler treatment

Post by cbrew » Thu Jun 06, 2019 7:27 am

First thing you need to do is have your water tested. once you have the "make up" of your water. those in the know can suggest the proper route to take. I personally just use LSB. the water is never in the boiler more then 6 hours at a time, if i stored the boiler wet, i would be looking for a different solution.
Marty has been a really good source for this info
If it is not live steam. its not worth it.

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Fender
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Re: Boiler treatment

Post by Fender » Thu Jun 06, 2019 8:10 am

Boiler water treatment usually consists of adjusting the pH of the water, using water softener to remove dissolved minerals, an oxygen scavenger for removing dissolved oxygen, and an agent for preventing scale buildup. All of these variables “vary”, which is why the water must be tested.
Sodium hydroxide (lye) can be purchased commonly as drain opener and used to raise pH. Or pool chemicals for raising pH are easily available. Sodium sulfite can be purchased through chemical supply houses to scavenge oxygen. Water softening chemicals are available from Lowes or Home Depot. LSB prevents scale buildup. Many clubs buy the LSB product in case lots, then re-sell the individual bottles.
I puposely didn’t say how much of these to use, because “it depends”!
Dan Watson

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Marty_Knox
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Re: Boiler treatment

Post by Marty_Knox » Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:09 am

The simple answer to water treatment is: There is no simple answer!
As Chris and Dan said, you have to test your water and treat for what you find,
Marshall Black wrote an article for Live Steam magazine on water treatment; it was reprinted in the Sept.-Oct. issue.
Three points I'd like to make:
1. A little bit of chemical goes a long way. We are dealing with minute amounts here, parts per Million.
2. More important than water treatment is washing your boiler regularly, at the least once a year.
3. When you wash your boiler wash both the waterside AND the fireside - a layer of soot cuts down heat transfer as much as a layer of scale.

Glenn Brooks
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Re: Boiler treatment

Post by Glenn Brooks » Thu Jun 06, 2019 11:21 am

Thanks all. What is the ideal PH range? And is there some ideal range for water hardness?

I’ll look for the article reprint. Sounds like a good reference. Wonder if it could be reproduced and saved in our reference section... maybe it’s already there. I’ll go look...

Glenn
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Fender
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Re: Boiler treatment

Post by Fender » Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:31 pm

From what I’ve read, pH should be about 9-10 for steel boilers with copper tubes, and 10-11 for steel tubes.
Ideally, the hardness should be zero, but this may be “hard” to achieve! 🤨
Dan Watson

Glenn Brooks
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Re: Boiler treatment

Post by Glenn Brooks » Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:48 pm

Sounds like good news, re: water quality, in our area.

I talked to the local water district just now. Our water is consistently around 8.1 ph and low mineral content- 1.6 grains/gal. The water Q guy says he almost never sees scale buildup in local boiler or hot water systems. We’re in Western Washington, which has low to no limestone or calcium deposits, and the Seattle Area water system is all winter snow pack/reservoir based. Fairly high dissolved oxygen content, though.

Iam currently using LSB 8000 to remove free oxygen. So I’ll buy a ph test kit and experiment with raising the PH levels a bit - apparently up to the level of dissolved Spinach (ph10) according to the health food guide on Mr. Google. :D

Glenn
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Steve Goodbody
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Re: Boiler treatment

Post by Steve Goodbody » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:24 pm

Hi Glenn,
This subject comes up periodically. You may want to search on a thread titled "Water Treatment Targets and Method" which attempted to answer these same questions in a fashion that was applicable for anyone's situation.

Marty's over-arching points about boiler washouts and storage are vital, water treatment alone won't correct problems caused by poor maintenance or storage practices. However the following were my specific and actionable conclusions with respect to boiler treatment, which I've been following since and which are straightforward to adopt with off-the-shelf materials:

1. Softening the water to remove scale-forming deposits can't hurt and will be beneficial, at least marginally. I use a cartridge-style softener.

2. Filtering the water with a 0.5 micron carbon block filter also can't hurt. I use a cartridge-style filter.

3. For boilers containing copper, prepare and maintain the pH to achieve a value around 9 inside the boiler (no higher than 10).

4. Adjust the pH with soda ash (sodium carbonate) after the water softener, not before.

5. Dose with Sodium Sulfite to scavenge dissolved oxygen. Add sufficient for the chemical to be measurably present (using a sulfite test strip) indicating that all oxygen has been removed

Hope this helps
Steve

GORAN ROSEN
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Re: Boiler treatment

Post by GORAN ROSEN » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:42 pm

Glenn, I would be interested in reading that article that Marshall Black wrote in Live Steam mag as well.
Any chance for a scan if you find it? Or maybe a link were to find it.
Goran Rosen

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Fender
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Re: Boiler treatment

Post by Fender » Thu Jun 06, 2019 7:12 pm

From my observation, some of the worst boiler problems arise from ground water (well water) rather than surface water. Rainwater collected from roofs has very little dissolved minerals, but often needs pH correction (because it's too acidic). I've seen boilers that used well water with significant calcium carbonate (think Florida) scale up in just a few years! Regular washing out can keep this scale from building up, but better to keep it out in the first place.
Dan Watson

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NP317
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Re: Boiler treatment

Post by NP317 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:00 pm

To limit dissolved oxygen when steaming up my locomotives I ALWAYS open a valve on top of the steam dome and let it vent steam for several minutes during fireup.
That is standard practice for many city steam plants, too: automatic steam venting to remove dissolved oxygen from feed water.
True for the Seattle City steam plant. You can still observe that venting from some city streets.
A simple solution.
~RN

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Fender
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Re: Boiler treatment

Post by Fender » Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:48 am

Iam currently using LSB 8000 to remove free oxygen.
I’m not sure that LSB has an oxygen scavenger in it. My understanding is that it only prevents scale buildup. But then, there’s no list of ingredients!
Dan Watson

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