Using Vinegar to clean a boiler

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loggerhogger

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I have recently acquired a small water tube boiler. I haven't had a chance to really get into it as far as doing an inspection, but I can only assume that it has been steamed without using any treatment to the feed water., so I am assuming that when I get into her, I'm probably going to find scale deposits on the water side of the heating surfaces.
I had read somewhere where vinegar was used to dissolve those deposits. I have also heard of the use of muriatic acid.
Has anyone in this forum had any experience in using these to descale a boiler?
I should state that I do have over 20 years experience in firing and running steam locomotives, so I do have a strong background in steam.
Any thoughts??
 

Ropetangler

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I have no experience in running boilers, but I have de-rusted old files with vinegar with great success. Even vinegar does remove metal on files though, and has the effect of sharpening an otherwise dull file, making it usable again. Muriatic acid, otherwise known as Hydrochloric acid will also remove metal and descale your boiler, but other acids may be a better choice, because the chlorine ions in hydrochloric acid according to some articles I have read stay in the iron matrix and promote further rusting as time passes.
Whether or not the acid treatment would etch too much metal from your boiler, rendering it unsafe I simply can't say.
 

loggerhogger

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Thank you. Yes I had heard about using vinegar to sharpen a file. Never tried it but I do have some old files that could use some t.l.c. I think I'm going to purchase an endoscope which are surprisingly inexpensive. With it I should be able to get a good look inside the water side and go from there.
I did remove one of the side panels the other day. The pictures show the basic construction which to me is reminiscent of a Babcock and Wilcox design.
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JC54

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As a thought to your endoscope, checkout auto supply places. I have a 8mm diameter camera used for looking inside auto engines and often wonder how I managed without it. Very reasonably priced and gets into all sorts of nooks and crannies. Wiring behind plasterboard, car dash panels etc.;)
 

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