Ask a Buffalo Heating Expert: Scale Formation in Boilers

Softening Water Can Help Prevent Scale Formation

Q: What is scale formation and how can it affect my boiler?

A: Scale formation in boilers causes decreased efficiency, increased maintenance/operating costs and makes it much more likely you will experience a breakdown this winter. Scale accumulation is caused by the presence of hard water in your boiler. Hard water is water that is rich with heavy minerals such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals react in the extremely heated environment within your boiler to form heavy and insoluble scale. This insoluble scale coats the heat transfer surfaces, which acts as an insulator and ultimately impedes heat transfer.

Hard water isn’t the only cause of scale formation in boilers though. Other impurities such as iron, silica, copper, oil, and more have frequently been found to be the source of boiler scale. In fact, it is rare to find scale which isn’t the result of at least one or two of these impurities.

In most cases, conditioning or softening water before it’s fed into your boiler is the first step in eliminating scale formations. However, even when the water make-up is generally soft, there is still a need for chemical scale inhibitors inside the boiler. With proper treatment, headache-inducing issues such as decreased efficiency, tube damage and low heat production can be avoided or at least greatly reduced. The key to proper treatment is striking the right balance of chemical treatment and control.

Q: How can I stop scale formation from happening?

A: The most important part of minimizing scale formation is to have a good idea of the make-up of the water before it goes into your boiler. After determining these specifics, then your Roy’s boiler expert can guide you to a custom solution. Also crucial to your boiler’s health is sticking to an ongoing annual maintenance plan. Having a Roy’s technician tune-up your boiler once a year will go a long way to extending its lifespan and maximizing both efficiency and performance.