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Weil-McLain Issues Guidance on Servicing Flooded Boilers

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the technical-service and engineering departments of Weil-McLain, the Burr Ridge, Ill.-based designer, manufacturer, and marketer of gas- and oil-fired hot-water and steam boilers for space heating in residential, commercial, and institutional buildings, developed a checklist to assist in the servicing of flooded boilers.

First, a word of caution: If any part of a boiler has been sprayed with or submerged in water, do not attempt to operate the boiler until it has been completely repaired and inspected, the company urges. Otherwise, you risk fire, explosion, or electrical shock.

Saltwater Damage

The exposure of boiler components to saltwater can have immediate effects, including the shorting out of electrical components and the washing out of critical lubricants. It also can have longer-term effects because of the conductive and corrosive nature of salt residue. Weil-McLain equipment contaminated with saltwater or polluted water no longer is covered under warranty and should be replaced.

Freshwater Damage

Condensing boilers. If any electrical component or wiring of a condensing boiler came into contact with water or is suspected to have come into contact with water, replace the boiler with a new boiler.

Cast-iron boilers. Replace a cast-iron boiler that has experienced flooding conditions with a new boiler or thoroughly service it as follows:

• Replace all controls, gas valves, and electrical wiring. Once an electrical control gets wet, it poses a fire and electrical-shock risk. Wet gas valves, meanwhile, no longer can be trusted to provide a safe shutoff, leading to the risk of gas leaks, fires, and explosions. Even mechanical devices such as float low-water cutoffs and safety relief valves need to be replaced, as their components may become corroded.

• Thoroughly inspect all burner tubes, gas piping, manifolds, orifices, and flue ways for rust and/or sediment. Rust and sediment can prevent proper operation of a boiler.

• Replace all oil burners. If solenoid valves, motors, electrodes, or pumps have experienced flooding, then oil leaks, valve failures, and electrical faults may occur. In the case of large commercial burners, it is more cost-efficient to replace the entire burner than it is to attempt to replace all of the controls and repair the mechanical components.

• Replace all water-damaged insulation. After insulation becomes water-damaged, it is prone to deterioration. This results in reduced insulation value and a potential fire hazard. Also, bacteria from flood waters remaining in insulation can pose a health risk.

• Where possible, inspect seal rings for damage from petroleum products. Flood waters often are contaminated with gasoline and other petroleum products, which can damage elastomer seals.

• Thoroughly inspect all venting for corrosion. Replace any venting that is rusting or corroded to prevent flue gases from entering the building.

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