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My Garn Corrosion Fiasco Part 1

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Rick Stanley, Feb 6, 2011.

  1. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

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    I have wanted to to share this since it happened last November. I want this NOT to be a Garn bashing session although I was VERY pi$$ed when it happened. So I have waited, cooled off and checked things out so as to figure out and share WHY it happened and what we did about it, so others (including Dectra, Garn dealers and PrecisionChem) could benefit and save themselves some hassle. After all, education and sharing is what the Boiler Room is all about.

    So, I got the Garn online in Oct of 09. Followed all recommended start-up/flush/add chemicals/fill/water-testing (done in Jan/10) procedure. Water test (chemical analysis only, no bio test) results were ok so ran it all Winter, shut it down in the Spring, walked away and let it sit idle all summer. In the Fall, last November, in between getting wood put in and other getting-ready-for-winter farm stuff I drew a water sample from a purge valve near the heat-exchanger in my basement and got it sent of to PrecisionChem. There is a spot on the bottom of the water test form for remarks and comments. I had put in there what I could see through the manway and that was that the water was clear enough to see the flue tubes but had a brown color and that I could see brown foam floating at the water line against the tank wall. The results, including a bio test this time, came back A-OK!! But, because of the comments, they recommended draining, flushing and re-filling with new treatment.

    When it was drained it looked bad so I snapped these pics and emailed them to Mike at PrecisionChem. He responded right away, set-up a time to call me, we discussed a plan of attack or "path to recovery"as he put it. He said the pics showed for sure that there was bacteria in the water and excessive steam production at the waterline had created an environment that caused corrosion.

    Attached Files:

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  2. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    bummer. Hope all is well now.
  3. TCaldwell

    TCaldwell Minister of Fire

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    Rick, what were his reccomendations.
  4. BoilerBob

    BoilerBob Member

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    I hope you sent Mr. Garn these photos, interested in knowing his response.
  5. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

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    Part 2

    The first recommendation was to use a garden hose and soft bristle brush to removed only the loose material and NOT expose any bare metal. At that point in was impossible to know how much corrosion, if any, had actually taken place just by looking at it. Here's a couple of shots of me trying that, but I could see right away that I had solid, attached deposits. Also here's a shot of the ceiling that shows pretty well how the action had occurred at and above the waterline and then kinda drooled down from there. The deposits were crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, wish is typical of bacteriological corrosion according to PrecisionChem.

    Attached Files:

  6. Sawyer

    Sawyer Minister of Fire

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    Wow! Now I am worried.

    I believe we all have steam and an area above the waterline for expansion where this can happen.

    Did you hear anything from Detra?

    What is the solution to avoid this?
  7. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    There seems to be two related issues and you would have thought both have a chemical solution.

    I did a quick google search and came up with problems all the way from the Space Station to a Canadian Naval Ship that had to be taken out of service for a while.

    This was from a UK source, but written in a form I could understand.

    http://www.plumbingpages.com/featurepages/WaterProblem.cfm
  8. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

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    PART 3

    After I sent the previous pics (in part 2) to PrecisionChem and explained that the deposits were attached, they recommended wire brushing to bare metal and pressure washing. Only then could you see that the corrosion had penetrated the steel. I had never used a pressure washer before, and inside of a tank isn't a very pleasant place to learn, so I didn't get very good results the first time around, plus it really sucked because the tank was still hot. Not fun.
    Anyways, here are a few pics of that session. It cleaned it up some but not good enough. More to come...........

    Attached Files:

  9. brad068

    brad068 Feeling the Heat

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    Honestly I don't think that is all to bad when compared to mine. I have never added any treatment as of yet but will this year.

    I let mine rough up the surfaces of the flue pipes, gives the water more surface area to transfer heat. :)
  10. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    I use Mike. Just started this year. I talked/asked before on earlier post about water loss threw evaporation on the Garns - for the reason that I was curious about the above the water line environment. Mike and I talked about it at length and decided the best way was to eliminate it. I use a loose cover and a float fill valve to keep the tank filled to the very top. When it cools and then heats I do get a little out the over flow. [because the Make Up water fills the void]
  11. TCaldwell

    TCaldwell Minister of Fire

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    just a thought,what about a small media or soda blaster, and then some sort of coating or sealing agent?
  12. Sawyer

    Sawyer Minister of Fire

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    If this is a problem area it surprises me that Garn coats the bottom but not the top.
  13. steam man

    steam man Minister of Fire

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    I am not familiar with bacterial corrosion since all I do is high pressure marine boilers. I have laid up marine boilers countless times and never do we just "walk away". In a wet lay up method we fill the boiler drums all the way to the top with distilled water and use a relatively heavy dose of an oxygen scavenger. The ph should be slightly alkaline, say 8.3 or so. We then would use a head tank as high as possible to keep pressure on the boilers thus no air space to allow rust to form. The furnace sides would typically have a heater installed but dessicant could be used. I am just wondering how much of this could be attributed to an idle lay up.
  14. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    The water has got to be continually condensing and raining from the upper surface, only makes sense! If there were a rust treatment that would remain mixed with the vapor, that would be the cat's a s. Do ya suppose better insulation on the top of the tank would help?

    Do they have a sacrificial anode installed in these units?
  15. charly

    charly Guest

    I remember someone posting on here about corrision in boilers, one should never shut the circulator down on a boiler that is out of service for the warmer months. Just wondering if that would have maybe helped out on the corrosion , keeping the water moving. Sorry you had to have that happen after taking the time to try to prevent that in the first place. I know that's a dreaded issue with aircraft, anytime corrosion starts it seems very hard to arrest. Hope you get it resolved and all the other Garn owners will benefit as well. It's good that you even cared to check as to get years of use out of your Garn. Hope Garn steps up to the plate for you. That's a big investment on top of all the work that goes into the installation alone. Hopefully it won't have to be exchanged out for some reason. Good Luck!
  16. charly

    charly Guest

    Have you talked to wood boiler solutions,LLC. They were great people when I dealt with them for an outdoor wood boiler I had years ago. Then sent me a free 25 dollar water test kit and only sold me what was needed after a water test was done first. No blanket treatment. I believe they make a solution that treats the air above the water line and keeps any exposed metal from corroding. They are great people to deal with. www.woodboilersolutions.com
  17. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    Regret to hear of this- and hope you have/ find a solution.

    Here I've been with a mild case of "Garn Envy" thinking that only the rest of us ran into frustrating quirks...
  18. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

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    PART 4

    Like I said, I had never used a pressure washer before, plus I wasn't sure how much I was suppose to be taking off. After sending Mike more pics and emailing back and forth some more I got the hang of it. He sent me some chemicals, I added, fired, circulated, drained and pressure washed again with the tightest nozzle of the three that came with the washer. Here are some shots of the result.

    ps- you can see anode rod

    Attached Files:

  19. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    The comment from steam man on use of a head tank makes so much sense a person could be surprised that this has not come up before. It would turn a Garn into a pressure boiler of some sort, depending on the height of the head tank. I wonder what the inside of other Garn's look like, how far the corrosion progresses, and reports of failures. Other comments from some Garn users show a long life, trouble free. Some claim they haven't followed the treatment regimen. Will be very interested in hearing how Garn follows up to cover your costs, time, equipment and materials, as well as covering the additional chemical treatment, etc. Might there be something unique about your water, Rick, that had lead to this, water testing notwithstanding?
  20. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    My old OWB had an expansion bladder above the water jacket to take all expansion, and then return the water to the boiler to keep it full all the time -- no free air space in the water jacket. A bladder type "head tank" for a Garn likely would be problematical due to the large volume of water, but it sure worked on the OWB, which I had in service for well over 10 years before selling it and switching to the Tarm with pressurized storage.
  21. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

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    PART 5

    Then came the clean-up. All that crap that was pressure washed off ends up in the bottom along with the wash water to be cleaned out. Can't just flush it out through a 3/4 boiler drain. It's gotta be sucked out. I used a shop vac to suck out the water, then used a sump pump to suck water from shop vac out of the building, then went back in with the vac to get the crud.

    Attached Files:

  22. bigburner

    bigburner Feeling the Heat

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    When I did mine, there is no drain at the very bottom + it's 15ft down the manway. I have a high head submersible pump that will handle the draft. pumped it out and just keep adding more water to dilute the dirty water. Mike sold me the medium strength cleaner, it did a pretty good job, but there was still rust. Ran it two years with out any water treatment.
  23. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

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    PART 6

    More clean-up. Had to really spit and polish everything up before final filling and treating. Got it all filled and fired and back online on nov 16. New test was done including bio and all came back ok. Took the better part of a week to do it but it's been heating my house like a champ ever since. Hopefully it is cured, time will tell.

    Attached Files:

  24. nt30410

    nt30410 Member

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    My 1500 has been online about the same length of time. I haven't see any signs of corrosion yet..was kind of relying on Precision Chemical. My first boiler treatment came from Dectra and was a product made by Jiffy. I swapped out a pump when using it and found a white film around the inside of the pump which seemed like a permanent protective coating. With the switch to Precision I don't see that any more. Kind of makes me wonder.
    Best of luck!
  25. Sawyer

    Sawyer Minister of Fire

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    I feel bad anyone has to go through what you did Rick. What are you doing differently to prevent this problem from reoccurring?

    I felt by following the treatment schedule the Garn would be trouble free. I will be looking in my manhole tomorrow.

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