If you’ve ever lived in a home with hard water, you know it can be a little unpleasant sometimes. Soap doesn’t lather up properly, your skin and clothes never really feel clean, and you’ve got to contend with deposits forming on your pipes and fixtures. The reason all of this happens is because hard water has a lot of dissolved minerals and other solids in it, especially calcium and magnesium. Those minerals and solids react with the soap to make the water insoluble, making it harder for it to lather up the soap, and carry away the dirt.
The good news is, since you’re a human being, those dissolved solids, salts, and minerals are more of a nuisance than a danger. But if you were made of metal, like a boiler, it would be a totally different story. That’s because the same solids that are suspended in the water can really do a number on the metal inside your tank and tubes. As you can probably imagine, then, water treatment is one of the single most important things you can do to extend your boiler’s life, and help keep it running efficiently over time.
DON’T PLAY IT HARD
Untreated water in your boiler is going to cause trouble because as those insoluble solids settle, they’re going to collect on the inside surfaces of your boiler tank. As they do, they’ll start to form a layer of scale. The more scale collects, the more it starts to insulate the boiler’s water tank and slow the rate of heat transfer. If enough of it collects, it will cause enough lost heat transfer between the burner, the boiler tank, and the water to harm your efficiency. Which means you’ll have to keep burning more and more fuel to get the same amount of steam.
Scale does more than harm your efficiency, though. It can also harm your boiler, because as it insulates it begins to cause uneven heating across the tank surface on the fire side. Uneven heating leads to metal stress, which can cause warping and cracking over time. That’s where leaks come from, and nobody wants that.
SOFTEN IT UP
If hard water is bad, then it makes sense you should use the opposite of that, which would be soft water. But what does that mean exactly? Soft water is water that has been treated with additional chemicals and processes to reduce the insoluble calcium and magnesium and replace them with something that stays in suspension. That softening takes place in, you guessed it, a water softener. And what happens in there is really cool on a molecular level.
Inside a water softener, you’ll find thousands and thousands of tiny resin beads. Those beads are all bristling with sodium ions, because the resin attracts them. As hard water flows through the softener, the calcium and magnesium become attracted to the surfaces of the beads as well, and knock the sodium ions out of place. In effect, the calcium and magnesium swap places with the sodium; the sodium ends up in suspension instead, and the calcium and magnesium end up stuck to the beads.
Since the calcium and magnesium stay in the water softener, they aren’t floating around and collecting on your boiler. The sodium, on the other hand, will do a better job of staying in suspension.
With your calcium and magnesium out of the way, and the sodium in suspension, your boiler will also enjoy a longer life in places other than the tank. Scale can collect in valves, gauges, boiler accessories, and fittings, too. And if enough of it settles and solidifies, it can end up severely hindering the flow of water and steam, and even blocking them off entirely.
Treat your water well, and you’ll treat your boiler well, too. You’ll get longer life, better efficiency, and greater reliability if you keep the calcium and magnesium out of the picture. WARE is here to help.
We even stock Chemicals that take magnesium and calcium out of suspension, and help stop corrosion to help prolong your boiler’s life even more.
Chemical Pumps keep the right mix of water treatment chemicals flowing in to your water softening system and your tank.
Sample Coolers are always a smart way to manage ongoing water treatment monitoring. Since they cool the water sample before analysis, they let boiler operators take water readings safely without the danger of getting scalded. Cooling the sample also helps get a more accurate reading, and it helps prolong the life of the monitoring equipment to some degree, as well.
If you want to have your water checked or treated, the experts at WARE are here to help. We have a wide range of solutions for proper water conditioning, and the expertise to install and maintain them. Whatever you need, whether it’s parts, services, or training, just let us know how we can help.