If you’ve discovered that your commercial boiler is leaking water, your first step in troubleshooting the issue is to try to find out why. Before you call a boiler professional, there are some things you can check yourself, and you may even be able to fix the problem on your own. Your boiler may need just a few minor tweaks to get it back to running normally.
On the other hand, water coming from your boiler could be an indication of a more significant issue. Whether your leak is being caused by a minor problem or something more serious, most leaks can be traced back to one of three common causes.
1. Pressure Issues
Pressure problems are common reasons for water appearing around a boiler. Your boiler has an outlet pipe that releases extra pressure. The outlet pipe is made without sealed fittings so that the pressure can escape. This can result in the occasional dripping of water.
If your leak consists of a minimal amount of water issuing from this outlet pipe, you have nothing to be concerned about. However, if large quantities of water are coming out, there could be too much pressure inside the boiler.
- What You Can Do: Look at your boiler’s gauge needle. If it’s pointing at red, you need to call a professional to bleed your boiler and lower the pressure.
2. Loose Joints
Your boiler contracts and expands with changes in temperature. This can cause joints to loosen and begin leaking water. If you have a new boiler, its joints may need tightening. You should examine every tube and pipe that goes into or comes out of the boiler.
- What You Can Do: Dry the area in question with a cloth and then wait to see if water reappears. If pipework seems to be involved, give the joint(s) a quarter turn to see if that fixes the problem. If you cannot take care of the issue yourself, you will need a professional to ensure all the joints are tight enough.
3. Damage to the Boiler Body or Seals
Your boiler repeatedly contracting and expanding can lead to cracks and other damage that result in water leaks. Also, after many years of use, rubber seals tend to harden or fall apart, resulting in leaks.
- What You Can Do: If your boiler is new and you suspect damaged seals, it may be that it has been running with too much pressure. You will need a professional to check this out and rectify the problem. If your boiler is old and you have a crack in the body, it’s time for a replacement.
Other Reasons for a Leaky Boiler
Most boiler leaks result from pressure issues, loose joints, or cracks. However, there are a few other reasons that are worth mentioning.
Damage to the Blowdown Valve
Part of your boiler’s regular maintenance should be a process called a blowdown that’s performed when the water seems dirty. Blowdown makes use of an expedited opening valve that, if damaged, can cause a substantial pool of water to collect.
Heat Exchanger Corrosion
The most essential component of your boiler is its heat exchanger, which transfers heat from the hot gas to the water. Unfortunately, with age, the heat exchanger is prone to corrosion and splitting, leading to a leaky boiler. If this is the case, your best option is to replace your boiler.
Leaking Auto-Air Vent
When the pressure in your boiler gets too high, the auto-air vent will activate to release some of it. This vent uses a valve that opens and closes to allow air to escape. Occasionally, this valve can stick, leading the air vent to let out both air and water. If it seems that your water leak is emanating from the top of your boiler, then the issue could be because of such a valve leak.
Sediment in the Pressure Valve
Sediment can get trapped inside a faulty pressure valve, preventing it from closing correctly. You can check this out yourself if you have enough confidence. Close down your boiler, allow it to cool, then lift the valve so that water is let out. The water should look clean and come out with some force. If the water is dirty and keeps coming out after the valve is closed again, it could be that you have trapped sediment and you need the help of a professional.
The Best Way to Avoid Boiler Problems
Boiler leakages can be caused by simple or more complex issues. Either way, any leakage requires your immediate attention. Your boiler will inevitably degrade over time and needs regular maintenance to last the average boiler lifespan of approximately twenty years. Suppliers recommend a yearly checkup of your commercial boiler to ensure no major problems.
Always err on the safe side when considering a DIY repair. Fixing a loose joint may be an easy DIY job, but more significant problems need help from certified professionals. If you are a commercial property owner or manager, be sure to call a professional HVAC company if you feel uncomfortable trying to fix your boiler problem on your own.
When You Need a Boiler Expert
If you see a mysterious pool of water, hopefully this list of common causes can help you assess how serious the issue may be. If you need help from a friendly expert, call our team of professionals at Design Mechanical, Inc. We are a 24/7 commercial HVAC company that offers the following services in Kansas City and the surrounding area.
- Preventive full-service maintenance plans to ensure that your entire HVAC system runs efficiently.
- Ultrasonic testing to assess the flow rates in your HVAC pipes.
- Vibration testing to analyze and monitor vibrations in your HVAC system. This process accurately diagnoses any problems with your HVAC components.
If your commercial boiler is leaking water or you have any other problems, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!