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How to Clean a Boiler Heating System


Millions of people live in houses where the primary source of heat comes from the boiler. This type of heating system accounts for over 60% of what you spend every year on energy bills. Over time, your boiler can get filled up with deposits and sludge. Most breakdowns occur in the winter when boilers – having been inactive for long periods – are forced back into life. Common boiler problems include drips and leaks, weird noises, loss of pressure, and misreading temperature setting.

How Important Is Boiler Cleaning?

Regular maintenance will extend the life of your boiler and improve its efficiency. Cleaning the boiler regularly is the best way to prevent the problems of scale and corrosion. Research indicates that energy costs can increase greatly if the efficiency of this heating system is affected by insulating deposits. Poor boiler cleaning will result in efficiency loss or energy losses.

If only 3/100 of an inch of soot is deposited on the tubes, the efficiency of your boiler will drop by over 2.5%. That is $1250 per every $50,000 spent. Water impurities will leave solid deposits as steam evaporates. Boiler explosions were common until people learned how to regularly clean their boilers. Proper cleaning removes solid deposits from the boiler tubes, which improves the stability of boiler chemistry and improves the heat rate.

Cleaning the Inside of Your Boiler

There are several ways to clean your boiler. Regardless of which method you choose, you should first shut off the boiler and let it cool down. Remove the flue pipe and vacuum the soot. Boilers are made up of several cast iron sections with nubs on each side. Sometimes these tubes get packed with soot that needs to be cleaned out. You can use a steel brush for this purpose. Make sure you remember where all the little pieces go. Consider taking pictures of the parts you are working on so that you will have a visual reference of where each piece goes.

After cleaning the boiler tubes, wash them with clean water and then let them dry. Check the fireside of tubes for slag, carbon and soot. These deposits reduce the boiler’s efficiency and should be removed. Now you can start cleaning the whole unit. The whole procedure should take two or three hours. For more efficient cleaning, use a power flush. Vacuum out the bottom of the unit. Clean the inside and outside of the metal jacket covering your boiler. Use a high pressure hose to wash the unit. This will remove any loose scale and residual sludge.

Once you cleaned all the separate parts, it’s time to put them all back together. Make sure you also clean the vent sack with a brush. Place the burner tubes first, then the unit covers and vent sack. Turn the power on and let the thermostat go all the way up. Keep in mind that cleaning alone will not solve the most common boiler problems. The only way to prevent future corrosion is to treat the unit with a chemical inhibitor.


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