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Wood Boiler Solutions llc

The Facts - Pressurized "Closed" Systems

Fact: There is lots of “stuff” in your water, especially well water (municipalities treat water to some varying degree in relation to our purposes, therefore problems are lessened with "city" water supplies), all which pose problems for your system. Examples: calcium (lime), iron, oxygen. That is why you treat the water.  A "closed" system is no exception.   
Fact: Without proper treatment of the water in your system you are allowing corrosion and scale deposition to destroy the metals and destroy the efficiency and longevity of your system. Scaling issues are decreased considerably but oxygen remains a threat to your system.  "Closed" systems are by no means air tight.  Only in a vacuum are gases absent. (Solution)
Fact: Formal water treatment in industry is in itself a billion dollar worldwide industry. Your outdoor wood boiler has the same basic treatment requirements in regard to properly and effectively using water as a medium for heat exchange as its larger industrial cousins. Same kinds of problems, same kind of medicine.
Fact:  Regardless of the metals used to construct your particular brand boiler they ALL need treatment EQUALLY. We are not going to debate the pros and cons of each metal or get involved in the “metal debate” that seems to be a big part of marketing in this industry. Buy your boiler from a reputable manufacturer and TREAT it right and you will be ahead in the end. 
Fact: Water treatment is an ongoing preventative maintenance process, NOT a one time “dump a jug in and I’m done” process. You change the oil in your car periodically even if the dipstick says full don’t you?!  Water treatment maintenance is lessened for a "closed" system compared to an "open".
Fact: The universal solvent for treatment chemical is water. Not all products are equal in strength (or formulation--get to that later) so PAY ATTENTION to how much water can be treated by a certain amount of chemical when being a wise consumer. For example, assuming the same chemical formulation one product (Product A) might say to add one gallon of chemical for every 150 gallons of water in your stove. Another product (Product B) says to add one quart of chemical for every 150 gallons of water in your stove. Product B is four times stronger, meaning it contains less water. Shipping is too costly these days to buy a product that requires gallons of chemical to treat your stove. (Solution)
Fact: A test check of your chemical treatment level is best done on a regular schedule. We recommend for best results to check annually or after any significant addition of water for whatever the reason. Testing is cheap piece of mind. It is the ONLY way to know your system is protected properly. (Solution)
Fact: Doubling or more on your treatment product dosage is not going to do any more than recommended amounts, only cost you more. If you get a little more than you would have liked in the system don’t get worked up--just follow the recommended dosage in the first place. But on the other hand DON’T operate at levels lower than recommended with any product.
Fact: The metals in your system require an optimum water pH. This pH adjustment is an important part of the water treatment chemical that you add.  But pH is not a stand alone indicator of system protection.  See page titled "What about pH?"
Fact: If you have an existing system that has been “neglected” by all means starting a good water treatment program will still pay off greatly. You don’t consider life over just because the doctor gives you the bad news about your high blood pressure. You can take corrective measures to increase your longevity, same for your boiler.
Fact: Your wood stove and the metal surfaces contained therein should be cleaned and passivated FIRST THING before putting a new stove in operation (Solution). Ever use a cast iron skillet without properly going through the process of “seasoning” it?   In industry “seasoning “ is referred to as passivation and it is critical for your best results. Besides the process of passivation, cleaning out all the greases, welding by-products, etc. will prevent this stuff from later combining with the “stuff “in your water, gunking up your system and possibly feeding corrosion enhancing biological growth.

Fact: Starting a new treatment program or starting treatment all together on an existing system should involve a thorough fresh water flush of the system followed by a complete passivation/clean cycle to get started on the right foot (Solution).

Fact: Not all formulations are equal in their ability to protect your systems. None, from a reputable source, are going to harm your system but some offer superior technology and therefore superior results. Some products out there are just hand me downs from industry and were not designed specifically for an outdoor wood stove. They may work to some degree but are you getting the most for your dollar? Bar soap will wash your hair but will it provide the best results? (Solution)
Fact: Nitrite is a common corrosion inhibitor ingredient in most wood stove water treatment chemicals because it works well with ferrous metals (iron, steel) and is EASY to test for. Nitrites are NOT the only chemical constituent by far in a good corrosion inhibitor formulation. Also, Nitrites are not going to retard scaling deposition and so on. Given this, many if not most formulations will have you test for Nitrites as a way to monitor and control chemical level. If you keep your Nitrite level within the recommended range you will be properly using and applying all facets of your treatment chemical to its full potential and benefit. (Solution)
Fact: The ability of your system to maintain an adequate chemical residual (or level) is dependent on MANY variables, including but not limited to: quality of your fill water, temperature, how often you have to add water to the system, age and condition of your system. Point is--add the recommended dosage but don’t consider your work done. Stay diligent in testing and maintaining proper levels, ADDING WHEN NECESSARY.

Fact: Biological growth (bacteria, algae, fungi) within a system is a SERIOUS, common, often overlooked source of corrosion.   System water will become dirty or cloudy in appearance (colored) when growth is present and these are signs that YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. These unwanted tenants and their life processes within your system will create accelerated conditions of corrosion. Being proactive to this is a lot easier than being reactive. Keep your system water clean and non-supportive of such growth.  

Fact: Chlorine bleach can kill the growth in your system but it is also VERY CORROSIVE and should not be used in your system except as a last resort and then flush, flush, flush, passivate, flush, and treat. Next, cross your fingers.
Fact: Certain bacteria will “eat” the Nitrites in water treatment chemicals so these bacteria will aggressively and prematurely deplete chemical levels within your system, jeopardizing your system.
Fact: Glycol antifreeze will GREATLY reduce your boiler efficiency (cost you up to 30% more wood) but can be used successfully in a "closed" system due to the fact that you should have little to no need to add water to the system, even over multiple seasons.  Glycol alone only prevents system freezing--IT IS NOT A CORROSION INHIBITOR. Many glycol products may contain inhibitors but do not assume this and do not assume they are quality or application-appropriate inhibitors.  Glycol concentration (if pure)must be maintained at a minimum of 35% of your total system volume, NO LESS for best results!  Realize that once you fill a system you will have to drain a portion of the contents to add more glycol solution if you fall short of 35%.  When you drain you lose a portion of your original glycol dose ($) and how much more to add becomes tricky.  Given this, shoot for 40% + to be safe.  Realize that too much is overkill and that it also results in unnecessary efficiency loss.  This dosage percentage is for products that are pure glycol.  Many, many products on the market are watered down so be careful to buy and add to the system wisely.

Fact: Automotive antifreeze IS NOT appropriately formulated AND NOT RECOMMENDED for your outdoor wood boiler.  Don't use it in your boiler!
Fact: Chemical should be stored properly.  Keep unused chemical in a cool place out of direct sunlight and direct heat.  

Fact: The problems associated with improper or no treatment don’t necessarily appear overnight by any means. Preventative maintenance is geared toward longevity. 
Fact: Proper WATER TREATMENT for your outdoor wood boiler IS CHEAP,especially with a "closed" system!!

Fact: Someone will tell you that they don’t do any of this with their boiler and everything is fine. That person also drives a car with four bald tires that has the same spark plugs after 200,000 miles… General maintenance and taking care of your investments is what you make of it … No one is going to stop YOU from trying YOUR LUCK!

Information, Solutions and Quality Products for Outdoor Wood Boiler Owners