Water hardness buildup

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Old 09-24-12, 10:53 AM
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Water hardness buildup

Hi all,

I have an H.S. Tarm 402 wood fired boiler (~30 years old) with a domestic hot water coil (copper) in the boiler jacket. Over time, the hardness in my water has restricted flow considerably and I need to either replace the heat exchanger or remove the deposits, with an acid I would assume.

I've contacted woodboiler.com trying to find a coil and haven't heard back from them, so I'm here looking for any help that can be found. I realize that finding a new or reconditioned coil for my furnace will be difficult and assume I'll probably have to figure out how to clean my unit. I can do some plumbing to valve it off and remove it from the furnace, but I'll be without hot water until the job is complete and it's reinstalled.

Thanks in advance for any help.
 

Last edited by NJT; 09-24-12 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 09-24-12, 12:20 PM
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Hi Rhett, welcome...

If you can add the valving to isolate the coil from the water system, you can 'boil out' the deposits without removing the coil from the boiler. This is the standard practice.

It involves a bucket of acid, a pump that will withstand the acid, and lines connected to valves which allow that acid to be pumped through the coil.

Typically you would need a positive shutoff valve on both sides of the coil, a tee with a boiler drain between each of these valves and the coil (both sides). This allows you to bypass the coil from the house plumbing and hook up the pump.
 
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Old 09-24-12, 01:13 PM
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NJT, thanks for replying. I'm somewhat familiar with acidizing using a pump. I talked with a local plumbing shop about renting one, but they haven't had one around for many years. The owner also mentioned that the acid had to be a specific type so as not to attack the copper coil. I'm trying to go with a new coil because it'll end up costing about the same with a lot less hassle than playing with acid.

Do you have any ideas as to where to find a small acid pump and the correct acid?

Thanks again.
 
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Old 09-24-12, 01:20 PM
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Do you have any ideas as to where to find a small acid pump and the correct acid?
No, sorry, I'm familiar with the process but never performed it myself.

I'm sure that one of those cheap pumps from HD or Lowes would work long enough to get the job done, then just throw it away.

a specific type so as not to attack the copper coil
There are fellas here who are familiar with the acids used... I would start with Coca-Cola myself! (phosphoric acid). I wonder if " CLR " would work? Even vinegar if circ'd long enough would do the job.

I'm trying to go with a new coil because it'll end up costing about the same with a lot less hassle than playing with acid.
I sure can understand that! As long as the bolts for the coil aren't all rusty... and one (or more) breaks when you take it apart... they yeah, I would agree. ( Hint: PB BLASTER is the best rusty bolt stuff I've ever used. Forget WD-40, stuff is useless!)
 
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Old 09-24-12, 01:41 PM
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I'll have to talk to the old-time plumber again about the acid requirement. Yes, vinegar would work, but it would probably take days, and a lot of vinegar as I'd guess it would saturate with calcium fairly fast. As I said, I'm somewhat familiar with the process, too, just need some particulars. One issue is making sure there's no loose or loosely attached hunks of calcium carbonate that might plug up my household plumbing at a later date.

I just noticed that I didn't spell "hardness" right in my title. Duh.

[edit: NJT - I fixed!]
 

Last edited by NJT; 09-24-12 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 09-24-12, 02:17 PM
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Old 09-24-12, 02:39 PM
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NJT, thank you very much! Good thing I don't listen to those who tell me not to talk to the police....
 
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Old 09-24-12, 07:21 PM
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Some cops is OK... but I ain't one of them! ( it's a riddle! )

Good luck, let us know how you make out.

Best advice is from Norm Abrams: "There is nothing more important that the proper safety equipment". I would wear a full face shield, AND a pair of safety goggles. Muriatic isn't really all that bad, masons use it all the time, but you ESPECIALLY do NOT want it in your eyes! Keep a garden hose or have a place to rinse off if you get it on your skin.
 
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