1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

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

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    391
    Loc:
    Southern ME
    PART 7

    What the hell happened? Well, it's PrecisionChem's position that an overfiring situation occurred, creating excessive steam, in the presence of a biological. They are right. There was an overfiring, I posted pics of it on here last year. Search this forum with "eeeasy big fella". They also said that a piece of hen manure the size of a quarter or a teaspoonful of 5-10-10 garden fertilizer would be bad news for a Garn 2000 or any open system ESPECIALLY if it boiled. They said biological contaminates can get into open systems just from dust in the air. Mike said he hates to use the word "hospital" in trying to emphasize required sanitation for open systems but it can be almost that critical.
    So, since no other Garn owners have experienced this I guess it was just a fluke. But since it did happen I just wanted to point out what I did wrong and what to watch out for: Don't over-fired, look in manway often to check water level and keep full as possible using filtered water and take sample from manway not piping if you see any discoloration and do a test.
    Mike and the folks at PrecisionChem were very helpful and accessible all the way. Phone calls, emails, listening to me holler and bit-ch, you name it, they're great.

    Chris Holley is my Garn dealer and he is a good guy too. Very accessible, I always get a phone call every time I email him. He felt bad because he had been telling guys that after you overfire your garn a few times you'll get the hang of it. Didn't think it was a big deal. He also felt confident that the testing program would prevent any corrosion issues from getting out of control. I emailed him all my pics and he forwarded them to Martin Lunde. I told Chris that Dectra ought to at least help me out with the cost of the water treatment chemicals and he said that was unlikely to happen and offered to contribute something out of his pocket. I declined. He and Martin and Mike were all in the loop and when Martin heard that it was Mike's position that overfiring was the issue, he simply said that it says in the manual to not operate above 190. I guess it probably does, somewhere.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2009
    Messages:
    1,420
    Loc:
    Midwest
    I know a person gets concerned with the large investment. If the unthinkable happened & it rusted through you just weld in a rolled section of metal. Anybody with halfway good welding skills can do this on a non pressure vessel & if it doesn't look as pretty as a new boiler so what? these get covered up/insulated anyways. Thats one of the great points of the Garn, very easily repairable, Randy
  3. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,348
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    So much for customer service from Lunde and Dektra. Chris is not the agent where I live, but to be very candid, when I did have an issue with a Garn operated by a local educational institution, it was Chris, not the local agent, Lunde or Dektra (all located in my back yard), who was the one who was helpful. Glad everything is OK now.
  4. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2009
    Messages:
    1,420
    Loc:
    Midwest
    Looks like we've learned something about Garn's warrantee. If you didn't follow initial procedures I could understand the "you're on your own approach". It sounds to me like Garn needs some chemicals that will better protect this expensive boiler, Randy
  5. Sawyer

    Sawyer Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 17, 2008
    Messages:
    599
    Loc:
    Northern WI
    Now I have to re-read the manuals. :mad:
  6. roaring fire

    roaring fire New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2008
    Messages:
    33
    Loc:
    newfoundland
    :bug: Where's Heaterman???
    He usually eats Garns for supper.
    Just surprised he hasn't chimed in on this Garn blooper
  7. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    391
    Loc:
    Southern ME
    He's probably rootin' for them Packers :lol:
  8. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2007
    Messages:
    733
    Loc:
    West Michigan

    Please say it isn't so......he does live in Michigan!!!! Seriously, excellent and entertaining game.
  9. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,301
    Loc:
    Adamant, VT 05640
    Curious how high temperatures create or exacerbate bacterial issues- usually higher temperatures are less hospitable for most microbes.
  10. brad068

    brad068 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    440
    Loc:
    Central Wisconsin
    I'm with pb on this one. What is the one way to purify water: boil of At least 15 min. The problem I see is that your water is to low. That is that much more area in that tank that can and is occupied by air, period. Keep it full that is more btus in storage too.

    Chech you pH. That along with steam should of neutralized any organic growth chicken chit or not.

    The bottom of the tanks are coated because that was the one area of failure they had. When a steel tanks rust where do you suppose all the sediment ends up? Thats right, at the bottom and the corrosion starts and pin holes form under all the sediment. But with to much coating the exposed steel will get 10 times the corrosive attack then the whole tank.

    Mine is a SS tank so shell corrosion is minimal but the flues are pitting. My opinion it is just about right now to stop the corrosion process.

    I will be adding chemicals to stabilize the water this summer.
  11. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Messages:
    620
    Loc:
    Sabattus Maine
    I would coat the entire tank if possible. Considering the price on these units they should be fully coated. Water quality prolly should be checked prior to filling to see if there is any biological issues that need addressing. Might be a good idea to pre boil the water that is used to fill the tank by running it through a steam cleaner. The need to keep a hospital grade clean regime also should be mentioned in the manual. Might be I don't know.

    Looks like another plus to be assigned to closed pressurized systems.

    Will
  12. RowCropRenegade

    RowCropRenegade Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Messages:
    302
    Loc:
    Southwest, Ohio
    I about had a heart attack when I saw this thread 20 mins ago. I been sitting here awestruck for at least that long. Good job Rick in finding and correcting the issue. That biological corrosion scares the hell out of me. I saw in the manual not to operate over 190. But if that was the case, I'd never get away from the green beastie for more than 4-6 hours max. I need 10 hours most days.

    Hope that everything is ok. Worried about mine now.....
  13. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Messages:
    3,022
    Loc:
    Falmouth, Michigan
    PACKERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRSSSSS!!!!!!!!

    Hah. Where's Heaterman he says. It's Super bowl Sunday people and we had about 30 or so assorted inlaws, outlaws, kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces and other assorted stragglers here eating us out of house and home. Seriously, they brought some really good eats along with them.

    As to the topic at hand.........Bacterial corrosion is a real knotty problem. I think that there's another thread on here recently that deals with it too if I'm not mistaken.
    As Mike at Precision Chem said, it can get going via a very small "input" of the wrong kind of stuff. Take that as a fact. It happens and can be introduced into the system from such a variety of sources that it would be hard to pinpoint exactly what got it going. That is the frustrating part about it. It's about impossible to tell where it came from according to the stuff i have read on it. It could easily be present in the well water and you'll never know it until something gives out. It's not a bacteria that is tested for that I know of when a new well is drilled because it's not a strain like Listeria or E-Coli that is associated with health problems.

    Open systems are more likely to "contract the disease" but it can occur in closed systems as well. Nothing that holds water in a captive or semi captive state is immune.
    The corrosion is caused by a bacteria that is unfazed by heat and literally feeds on ferrous metal. Once you have it about the only thing you can do to get rid of it is what Rick went through. The fortunate thing for him is that with a Garn you can actually get inside, with good rain gear, and do it. In about any other wood burner you are pretty much screwed due to access on the water side of things. We had to do the same thing with both of the 2000's belonging to my "favorite farmer". It is not a job I would wish on anyone.

    Boiling will accelerate the issue from what I understand and maybe that's what got Rick's problem going. As I said before, it could come in right from the well and that's another very good reason to have a water company deliver purified water to your site to use for filling what ever unit you have. I would strongly encourage everyone regardless of what brand or type of boiler you have to regularly have your water tested by a good lab. Someone who is in the business of water testing, not just some guy with a Hach chemical test kit.

    As for warranty, I doubt that any manufacturer would consider this a "defect" or a problem with their unit because it's something that is caused by an external influence. A Garn is about as robust a piece of equipment as I have seen but even they aren't bulletproof.

    Probably the worst case I ever saw was in a closed system that was heated by a top of the line Viessmann condensing boiler. It was a very large residential closed system and the boiler itself was stainless so it wasn't attacked. The steel piping and pumps sure took it on the chin though. It was pretty obvious where the contamination came from on that one. For whatever reason, the original installer elected to fill the entire system with water from the lake in the guys front yard. Go figure........

    PS: Two additional things.
    1. Coating the tank is not foolproof. All it takes is one very very small pinhole in the coating and you are in trouble.
    2. That's probably the worst halftime show I've ever seen and I thought most of the ads stunk this year too. :)

    and a third.........whoever that was singing the national anthem should have stayed at home. Messed up the words and over sang the song badly. It doesn't have to be embellished. It stands by itself as is. Disgraceful.
  14. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2009
    Messages:
    1,420
    Loc:
    Midwest
    Aguilera, & yes, The Pack is Back!
  15. PassionForFire&Water

    PassionForFire&Water Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Messages:
    570
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    I don't know much how these Garns are recommended to be installed, but a 10' or 20' high standpipe with open expansion tank and boiler feed system (British open system) should at least keep the boiler filled completely to the top (manhole) and keep air space above the water level to a minimum or non existing.
  16. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,348
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    A person might argue this technicality, but it seems to me that, since an open system is more likely to suffer from the biological attack, especially from overheating, than a closed system, that the mfr should strongly highlight the risk and consequent damage, and not simply say don't heat to higher than 190F. Also, it seems to me 1) that it is a critical design defect for a supplier like Garn to provide a boiler that does not have overheat protection to prevent temperatures higher than 190F, given the known risk; 2) that the design defect is a hidden defect not likely realized or to become known by a homeowner user before suffering the harm; 3) that failure to highlight the problem is intentional in that highlighting the problem would discourage sales and negatively impact profits; 4) that the Garn is sold directly to unsophisticated consumers who are unlikely to appreciate the severity of the problem and risk unless strongly warned of the risk; and 5) that Garn should he held responsible for its intentional and/or negligent acts.

    It also seems to me, given the fair number of Garn users on this site who have "boasted" (not to disparage the users, because the boasting is out of pride in their belief that they have a superior product) that they regularly run their Garn's in excess of 190 and into the low 200's, that Garn's failure to post notice on this site of the risk of this behavior to the integrity of the Garn boiler is further demonstration of Garn's intentional hiding of a serious risk.
  17. TheSteelFabricator

    TheSteelFabricator Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    10
    Loc:
    akron,oh
    What gets me is a hen can crap in your boiler or a teaspoon of 5-10-10 fertilizer at a cost of less than .02 cents can take out your boiler ,but you have to spend hundreds of dollars in boiler chemicals to rectify the problem. Kinda makes you wonder.
  18. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,348
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    Garn users may want to refer to this thread Gasser Burns as a method to insure that they do not overheat their Garn's. Weighing wood may be a bit cumbersome, but my experience shows it is quite precise in arriving at a target end temperature. Note the Chart which reduced the method to no-brainer simplicity. For example, yesterday my storage was at 110F, the target was 185F (delta-T=75), and amount of wood needed based on the chart (80% eff) was 129 lbs. I weighed out this quantity, proceeded with the burn, end of storage temp was 185F.
  19. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,348
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    Copper is known to have biocidal properties. Is there evidence that use of copper plumbing, rather than steel or pex, with a steel boiler reduces the biological attack issue highlighted in this thread?
  20. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Messages:
    3,022
    Loc:
    Falmouth, Michigan
    A steam tank or any other overhead refill system will not work guys. If it's set up to gravity feed it will just do so until all the water in it runs out of the overflow pipe in the Garn. You can't pressurize a Garn in any way.

    I've had my grubby paws on a lot of Garns, including currently resurrecting one made in 1981-82 as we speak. They are what they are. A very simple and solid design that transfers heat from wood to water better than about anything I've seen. They have their own operating characteristics just like any other boiler I've worked with. Incidents like Ricks are isolated to say the least. The only one I've seen in my area is one owned by my favorite farmer and it is regularly boiled, overfilled, fired wrong and everything else. On the other hand I know of a lot of them that are run up to 200*+ and have never experienced any issues at all.
    My personal recommendation to anyone with a boiler, open or closed system alike, is to regularly check your water conditions. There are a host of things that can happen to your system from nasty water and biologic contamination is only one of them.
  21. deerhntr

    deerhntr Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Messages:
    129
    Loc:
    Kutztown.PA
    Boy Jim,
    For someone who goes out of there way to state "not to disparage the users", you are doing a pretty darn good job of bashing users, manufacture, and all involved. And you are doing it here on this forum, where for the most part everyone goes out of their way to be helpful, and "Non Bashing". I thought Rick didn't want this to degenerate into a bashing thread. But alas........ You must really have been mistreated by GARN/Dectra when you were a child. I for one, am not into boasting, or posting my degree day efficient use of wood btus. I am simply glad to have an alternative source to heating my home over the traditional check to the oil minister. It just so happens, my alternative is a GARN. Could have been a TARM, EKO, ATMOS, or you name it. Most all appliances have their short falls. Last I checked, I have yet to find perfection. Let us all know when you find it! I'm sure you will.....
  22. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,348
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    Read it as you will. I also have complimented Garn representative Chris, and I have offered possible solutions to prevent overheating and reduce the chance of biological attack.
  23. steam man

    steam man Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    Messages:
    652
    Loc:
    Northern Maine
    Interesting observation. In the marine world we use copper-nickel piping/heat exchangers to the nth degree to basically ward off salt water corrorsion. Marine growth abounds in these systems so we typically use some kind of "poison water" sytem. The one I use now is basically a salt generator much like a pool would use but on a much bigger scale. Obviously you can't use that in any ferrous metal system. Previously I had experience with a copper/aluminum anode/cathode setup where the metals would slowly leach into the water to keep it free of marine organisms. Curiostity made me research this issue and I found this link:
    http://resources.schoolscience.co.uk/cda/11-14/biology/copch31pg2.html

    Quote:

    Copper is used for water pipes and central heating systems (tanks and pipes). This is because it doesn't corrode and its ductility makes it easy to shape and install. It also protects against the growth of unwanted, pathogenic bacteria such as legionella, which thrive in stagnant water storage units.

    I would emphasize "stagnant".

    This poses the question that with the advancing use of pex (or lack of copper pipe) will bacteria become more prevalent in heating systems? I wouldn't think the copper would leach out enough to make much difference though a high volume system with minimal copper pipe would seem to be more likely to have bacteria problems.

    On the lighter side Rick, don't feel so bad. I watched a Star Next Generation episode the other day and they picked up a space bacteria that was eating through their hull. They had to use a neutrino beam to neutralize it. I'm guessing that's not an option.
  24. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,348
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    Local hospitals are installing copper fixtures of some sort in hospital rooms to aid in fighting micro-organisms, and the "leaching" would be air-borne copper molecules or ions. Copper kettles have been used for a very long time and their sanitation effect through killing bacteria is well known. Might not hot water moving/eroding through copper pipes have the same result?
  25. brad068

    brad068 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    440
    Loc:
    Central Wisconsin
    Check pH... bacteria hates high pH, thrives in acidic conditions anoxic, anaerobic, or aerobic. Keep pH up!

    What I see with overfiring is that if it happens often you willl keep losing water due to steam/ condensation out the overfill tube and possibly the cover.

    I have a sight glass on mine and keep the water in it.

    Kinda like an old steel gas tank on ope. If you have ever looked inside a steel gas tank left to set half full with this great ethanol blend fuel, you will see a rust line develop right at/ above the liquid. When you keep them full during storage this doesn't happen.

Share This Page