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1.5" flues clogged with glazed creosote, cleaning?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by wandererjh, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. wandererjh

    wandererjh New Member

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    I'm hoping for some useful (i.e. not call a pro,clean it more often) suggestions from the contributors here. I have an Empyre Pro Series 400. There are a number of parallel ~1.5" stainless steel flues that run vertically ~42" at the rear of the unit. Cleaning these is difficult and obviously has not been done well enough or often enough, and that will have to change moving forward. At the moment, most of these flues are blocked with glazed creosote. I don't mean they have some build up. I mean, they are 100% blocked. Some are clear for most of their length, but blocked near the bottom (presumably where it has been out of reach of the cleaning attempts). Others are blocked, fully, for most of their length. How to clean these out is the question.

    My reading so far suggests that the chemical removers are unlikely to be useful. I've tried using a grinding bit on a long flexible shaft for a Dremel tool, which worked but would take days and even an hour was on the verge of burning out the tool. I've now sourced a flexible shaft extension for a 1/2" power drill and can pick one up 30 minutes away, and hopefully I can find some sort of boring bit that will work faster than a grinding bit.

    Suggestions for a bit, and any other methods or ideas would be greatly appreciated!

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  2. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I suggest starting with a large spade bit to get a hole down through. I'm also going to scold you for letting them get that bad! Is your wood dry?
  3. wandererjh

    wandererjh New Member

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    Scold away :) They're terrible... The flues are usually cleaned by volunteers, and they've done a decent job on the horizontal flues but apparently no one realized that the tool they were using for the vertical ones didn't reach all the way to the bottom, or that if they hit a blockage it wasn't 'the bottom'. Also, some of the volunteers didn't realize the vertical ones were even there, and only cleaned the horizontal flues. Partly a language barrier issue.

    The wood is generally dry, ranging from kiln-dried hardwood floor off-cuts to donated tree service logs that we split and store in a covered shelter. The bigger issue, besides lack of proper cleaning, is long idle times with the blower off, especially in the spring and fall.

    I'll dig out an old spade bit and give it a try. Thanks!
  4. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    You're going to need a long shaft to extend the spade bit the entire length of the boiler tube. I guess when I suggested it I was assuming that you have a welder in the corner of the shop like me and several others on this forum.
  5. leon

    leon Member

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    It looks like you need to lay in a supply of 1.5 inch boiler tube brushes of
    that size to keep it clean when you have the tubes cleared out.

    An air lance with an big air compressor would work but you will need a
    solid clear face sheild, dust mask ,earplugs and a good shop vac to
    vacuum the stuff up as it breaks loose to keep it from flying around.

    I would check with McmasterCarr to see what they have for boiler tube brushes
    as they will have long handles or you should be able to order at least two them
    with long twisted steel handles to keep the exchangers clean.

    Ideally you want to use high volume high pressure compressed air to keep them open
    anyway between being scrubbed with the boiler tube brushes.



    They made a fatal mistake making those tubes that small for sure.






    If you fully expect to keep this thing;

    www.tcwilson.com


    These folks make a huge amount of boiler tube cleaning equipment with self contained air power scrapers and water powered tube cleaning brushes and boring heads to open up boiler tubes.

    having even one of the small kits will solve your .... problem.

    Its to bad that the manufacturer screwed this up by not offering a kit like those offered by Wilson and others for THIS SPECIFIC PROBLEM.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  6. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    My father used a drill bit extension with a cheap hole saw on the end for his. Not as deep as yours but it worked. You might want to weld something like that up for a custom cleaner - having it come apart half way down might not be good. I don't think I'd use anything with compressed air - there would be dirty blackness spread everywhere.
  7. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Rent a power drain auger with a 1-1/2" cutter blade on it. They are made for auguring tree roots and such out of drain lines. Works well on creosote.
  8. wandererjh

    wandererjh New Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions! I tried the flexible drill shaft with a boring bit. It worked but not for long as the shaft snapped. I'll return it tomorrow and try to find something heavier duty. Good idea on a rental drain auger, might go that route if I can't get a better flex shaft. Unfortunately, my welding capabilities are currently limited by the lack of a welder :(

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