Category Archives: HVAC

Using Chemical Heating-product Additives

Boiler PM
Using Chemical
Heating-product Additives

Download the PDF

Discover some tips to help keep fuel-oil
tanks, boilers and furnaces properly
maintained to run at their optimum.
By Harvey Grodjesk

Using preventive chemical heating-product additives
during annual boiler and furnace tune-ups can ensure
that customers’ equipment performs efficiently
throughout the winter heating season. Additives also can
help equipment reach its full lifecycle expectancy.
In addition to ensuring proper operation, selling preventive
chemical heating-product additives can add more profitability
to a service call. If presented properly, customers will appreciate
the extra care a service technician takes by suggesting
these treatments be applied and explaining what they do.

Boiler-water treatments
While some service technicians may not be proponents of
periodic boiler-water treatments, all boiler manufacturers recommend
them. Depending upon the inherent water chemistry
of local water conditions, a boiler can seemingly operate
fine for 5–10 years without a water treatment, however operational
longevity may eventually suffer.
Most treatments provide multiple benefits, including:

– Removing sludge and rust scale;
– Inhibiting boiler and steam line corrosion;
– Preventing oxygen pitting;
– Inhibiting lime scale;
– Preventing surging and foaming; and
– Checking water chemistry with built-in color indicators.

color indicators manufacturers build into them, which are useful
for visual water-quality checks. After application, a pinkishpurple
water sample indicates a proper pH water chemistry of
approximately 8.2, which is neither too alkaline nor acidic.

Blue or bluish-green water indicates more water treatment is
needed. A complete flushing may be needed if subsequent applications
do not generate the proper water color.

Too much alkalinity can cause surging, scale buildup, or
eventually “caustic embrittlement,” a process that causes the
metal to crack. Too much acidity, on the other hand, leads to

In large commercial boilers, these ailments are averted
with daily checks typically performed by maintenance staffs
trained to use sophisticated test kits to determine the boiler
water’s total alkalinity, water hardness, total dissolved solids
and other common water chemistry conditions. Conversely,
the average residential-boiler service technician does not have
this training or available jobsite time to execute such tests.
Fortunately, a water treatment with diagnostic color characteristics
is more efficient, simple to use and cost-effective.

Therefore, a boiler-water treatment that reacts to operating
conditions for proper water diagnostics is critical. Some
treatments do not chemically react to changing conditions,
but only add a color to indicate that some treatment has
been added to the water. This is similar to automotive antifreeze.
A greenish water color in an automotive radiator
proves antifreeze is present, but it is difficult to determine if
there is enough.

Water treatments that minimize corrosion are more important
today because boiler walls are manufactured thinner
for increased heat transfer, and the recent influx of overseas
metal alloys are not always reliable. Corrosion and scale can
also create hot spots, percolating noise and active pitting sites
that could affect the system’s future integrity.

Another diagnostic sign is water discoloration, which
in hot-water boilers probably signifies layers of corrosion are
building up. Corrosion affects heat transfer and efficiency and
will eventually lead to premature failure.

One of the most frequently occurring steam-boiler problems
is surging or water hammering, which generates noise and vibrations,
the latter of which can eventually damage pipes.

Fire-chamber treatments
Soot buildup in a boiler’s oil-fired or gas-fired chamber, typically
caused by inefficient combustion, is a major service
checklist item. Soot acts as an insulator, thus cutting heattransfer
efficiency. Just a 1/32-in. layer of soot, for example,
can cause a 1%–2% decrease in efficiency. As layers of soot
thicken, the boiler efficiency exponentially decreases.
A soot spray can be applied during annual checkups, as
it reaches remote areas easier than vacuum attachments. A
soot stick can be burned in the chamber for a longer-term

Minimizing fuel-oil tank problems
The most common problem fuel-oil-fired boilers and furnaces
experience is moisture in the oil tank and fuel line. Typically,
moisture can cause an ice blockage, flame failure, sputtering
flame and corrosion-caused leaks from oxidation. Other problems
that occur in fuel-oil-tank storage include sludge, varnish,
waxing, gelling and general oil degradation.

Therefore, the most effective way to prevent these issues
is a year-round preventive treatment with an antifreeze and
other additives that minimize these ailments by dissolving
sludge and removing moisture. A year-round treatment can
be applied every fall as part of an annual heating-system
checkup. Also, since summer effects can cause condensation
within the tank, a mid-year treatment can be sold to the customer
to apply themselves in the spring.

Year-round treatments are not curative, but they can prevent
problems from manifesting over the course of several
years. Once too much moisture or sludge accumulates, the
customer is looking at system downtime, several hours of repair
and the expense of curative chemicals. In severe cases,
the service technician may need to revert to dumping, cleaning
and refilling the tank, which will cost the customer hundreds
of dollars, especially considering the cost of a fuel-oil
refill. A year-round fuel-oil treatment, along with periodic filter
replacements, can also minimize blockages in the fuel line
to the burner.

Not unlike the gasoline-additive market for engines, all
year-round fuel-oil treatments are not based on the same
science, but some manufacturers make the same claims. For example,
some treatments are merely kerosene, which will not
dissolve sludge or remove moisture. Additives with aromatic
hydrocarbons, such as naphtha solvents, have a high enough
kauri-butanol value to dissolve sludge. Likewise, additives
such as glycol ethers serve the dual purpose of de-icing and
removing moisture. A manufacturer’s material safety data
sheets will help determine which products use the most effective

Another part of the annual fuel-oil system checklist
should be a test detecting excessive water accumulation.
Typically, service technicians use a paste that detects and
locates water in fuel-oil tanks. The reddish-brown paste is
applied to a dipstick that reacts in the presence of excessive
moisture by turning fluorescent yellow-green.
There are many moisture-detection products on the market,
but some methods are better than others. For example,
some products depend on a pH reading to detect moisture.
However, this method can produce false readings or no
readings at all in the presence of alcohol, which concentrates
in water.

Obviously an oil tank with no water is the goal in a
perfect world; however, managing water to lower levels
with chemical additives might offer the customer the
most service-call value vs. time-consuming heating outages
and fills. If the fuel-oil line pick-up is 4 in. above the
tank’s bottom, a good rule of thumb would be to maintain
moisture below 1.5 in., which can be determined with the
aforementioned dipstick method. A water absorber can also
help reduce excessive water to those manageable levels.
Excessive water can also develop microbial growth,
which can lead to sludge and blockages. Microbes cannot
exist in oil, but they can exist in water and use oil for

Most of the aforementioned prevention methods are
not a matter of life and death, but heating systems left
untreated over time prematurely fail or create catastrophic repairs
that could be easily avoided with annual treatments and
checkups. It is up to the service technician to suggest and use
preventive products. Homeowners will likely pay for the extra
service and appreciate the conscientiousness with loyalty every

Harvey Grodjesk is Vice President of Operations for the Stewart-
Hall product line of RectorSeal Corp. Grodjesk is a 37-year veteran
of the chemical heating-product industry. RectorSeal offers
a variety of products for fuel tanks and fuel lines, such as yearround
treatments, water-detection pastes, water and sludge dispersant,
and several products for boilers. For more information,



DESCRIPTION: This NATE-accredited CEU class is geared toward HVACR service technicians who need to understand the dangers of condensation generated by HVACR systems. Taught by Riley Archer, the national technical manager for Rectorseal, technicians will learn what causes condensation, how condensation can cause damage, what the requirements are from the International Mechanical Code, as well as what types of preventive maintenance should be done on condensate drain lines. Archer will also cover several methods for unclogging drain lines. This class is also CEU-accredited in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, OH, North Carolina, South Carolina.


SPEAKER INFO: Riley Archer, national technical manager, Rectorseal, 2691 Spenwick Dr., Houston, TX, 77055; Phone (713) 263-8001, ext. 3282; Email

SPEAKER TYPE: Manufacturer 

Mismatched Kits Cause Failures.

Some compressor manufacturers claim nearly 40 percent of compressor warranty returns are attributed to burned-out start windings from incorrect hard start devices installed by service technicians,” said Riley Archer, national technical manager, RectorSeal® Corp., who recently presented a session on compressor starting problems as part of the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board’s HVAC Continuing Education Units Program.

Archer, who conducts free HVACR training classes upon request for contractors and distributors nationwide, spoke to 40 service techs at the Dayton, Ohio, branch of HVACR contractor Service Experts, and 15 techs and countermen at the Dayton branch of nationwide wholesale chain R.E. Michel Co. In April.The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certified class addressed the harmful effects of heat on compressor motor windings, the benefits of hard start devices, and the dangers of incorrect start devices.

“All service techs should realize the importance of matching hard start devices properly and how critical that first second of start-up is for a compressor’s longevity,” said Fred Perkins, an R.E. Michel sales representative who organized the training classes.

“Instead of automatically replacing perfectly fine equipment, our company philosophy is to clean up a customer’s existing a/c system, make it run more efficiently and employ aftermarket products, such as the two-wire hard start devices explained at the seminar, to prolong compressor life and other benefits,” said Fred Fitzsimmons, branch manager, Service Experts — Dayton, which operates 27 service trucks throughout the Dayton area.

About Hard Start Kits

A hard start kit consists of a mechanical potential relay connected to a start capacitor that’s wired to the compressor to aid its start-up. According to Archer, hard start kits are invaluable to air conditioning systems that suffer from:

• Low supply voltage;

• Poor quality of power supply;

• Inadequate (undersized) wiring;

• Pressure differential at start;

• Multiple units running at once; or

• Peak energy usage times.

These challenges make hard start devices a great potential aftermarket sales product for a contractor’s client base, according to Archer. “Any customer with a computer will appreciate the fact that a hard start device can minimize those voltage changes during air conditioning start-up that cause the lights to flicker or harm computers,” said Archer.

Additional selling points include the facts that aged systems typically are more difficult to start and new high-SEER systems have lower torque motors that need additional starting assistance.

“If you have 1,000 service customers, then 1,000 of them would benefit from the installation of a hard start device,” said Archer, whose company manufactures a patented two-wire hard start device under the brand of Kickstart® that’s recommended by dozens of unitary air conditioning and heat pump equipment manufacturers. “Many hard start device manufacturers offer a sales brochure designed especially to help contractors sell to homeowners.”

Properly Matching a Hard Start Device

The HVAC industry offers a variety of hard start devices. Every major compressor manufacturer uses some type of OEM threewire hard start kit that typically consists of a potential relay and start capacitor that are connected to dedicated locations. The potential relay is connected between the common, and start in series with the run capacitor. The entire series is in parallel with the run capacitor, causing the circuit to be in series with the start winding.

Since excess heat damages compressors, a critical feature of a hard start device is how it senses counter electromotive force (EMF). A typical start-up requires four to eight times more current to actually start the compressor than what’s required to run it. It’s essential to select a relay that picks up at precisely the right moment, which is measured in milliseconds, to protect the start windings from overheating, according to Archer.

“Not stopping the energizing process at the right moment is comparable to starting your car’s engine, but continuing to engage the starter motor against the flywheel a three-quarters of a second more than needed,” Archer said.“Eventually, this will burn out the car’s starter. The same damage impacts on an air conditioner compressor motor’s windings when multiplying that three-quarters of a second by 30 to 40 start-ups per day during cooling season.”

Hard start devices are divided into three distinct classifications, the traditional three-wire designs, two-wire designs that don’t use a potential relay, and the more precise approach of a two-wire design that uses a potential relay, the latter which needn’t be connected to dedicated locations. Both designs utilize a mechanical potential relay to sense voltage generated during start-up. Three-wire designs measure the counter (back) EMF off the motor start windings, while the two-wire designs utilize a mechanical potential relay to measure counter EMF off the motor start windings and the run windings, according to Archer. EMF is the voltage generated by the motor field as it operates.

There are hundreds of relay and capacitor combinations to accommodate the hundreds of variations of counter EMF generated through the start windings. General Electric, for example, makes more than 100 relays that are calibrated to have a different pick up, drop out, continuous, impulse, and response time voltage.

Consequently, contractors would have to inventory dozens of hard start devices on their trucks to properly match a replacement three-wire device. However, some aftermarket hard start devices come in just two or three universal models based on the compressor horsepower or system tonnage. When the three-wire design is used, it is impossible to use only two or three relays for all equipment on the market, because the start winding voltage varies by hundreds of volts from one compressor model to the next. Additionally, relays only function in a narrow voltage range of around 10 to 20 V. Potential relays are very effective, but they must be matched to pick up in a very narrow voltage range of the equipment’s start winding. “We know that the counter EMF running through the start winding varies by hundreds of volts, therefore it’s impossible to have a universal three-wire hard start device,” said Archer.

On the other hand, there is a way to use a potential relay and start capacitor to create a universal hard start kit with only two relays, by sensing the counter EMF from the start and run windings through the run capacitor. “There’s a universal underlying voltage generated that will be close to 370 volts if the system has a 370-volt run capacitor or 440 volts if it’s a 440-volt run capacitor,” said Archer.

Heat damages compressors, therefore the ultimate goal is to eliminate excess heat by starting compressors 50 to 80 percent more quickly. Not all two-wire devices are the same, as some don’t have a potential relay, but instead use an electronic circuit board timing device. “Two-wire hard start devices with mechanical potential relays sense counter EMF more accurately than their electronic counterparts,” said Archer.

Archer doesn’t recommend twowire devices using a positive temperature coefficient resistor (PTCR).A PTCR doesn’t sense the counter EMF, therefore it can potentially cause damage by keeping the motor start windings energized for too long of a period even after the compressor has started.

The No Service Tech Mistake

Probably the most common mistake service techs make in regards to installing a hard start device is not first checking the systemfs run capacitor functionality. An improperly functioning run capacitor can damage the hard start device. Run capacitors are measured in microfarads (ƒÊF), which can be calculated by determining the amperage from the start terminal on the compressor to the run capacitor and multiplying by 2,654, and then dividing that total by the voltage across both terminals of the run capacitor. A run capacitor measured at 7A and 370V, for example, would calculate as 7A x 2,654= 18,578 € 370V =50. 2 ƒÊF. The total must be within 10 percent of the run capacitorfs microfarad specification.

The system might not be starting up because of a faulty or weak run capacitor. Some manufacturers claim another 20 percent of compressor returns were misdiagnosed as compressor breakdowns, but were actually due to another component failure. gIn many instances, itfs not the compressor, but the run capacitor that failed,h said Archer.

The training seminar was apropos for Service Expertsf Fitzsimmons, whose service techs are continually marketing hard start devices to homeowners that experience residential voltage challenges or have systems showing premature compressor wear.



HOUSTON, TX – The Rectorseal Corporation, a Houston-based manufacturer of specialty products for the HVAC industry, has expanded its line of patented Safe-T-Switch® electronic condensate overflow control switches.  The new model, SS610E is designed for use on Mini Split systems. It includes the reliable, low power consuming, state-of-the-art microelectronics that has made the SS103E and SS500EP the best condensate control switch on the market and is Code Compliant. The SS610E had been tested to UL 508 and UL 2043.


As with all Safe-T-Switches®, the new models are designed for easy installation in both new and retrofit applications to protect home and commercial building owners from costly damage due to condensate overflow. This switch offers the A/C contractor an easy way to insure customer satisfaction and reduce potential liability.


The new easy to use SS610E switch sensor connects directly to the indoor unit wiring. Because the SS610E uses power from the minisplit unit, no batteries are required. Its smaller sensor can easily fit into the confined internal spaces of most units. It can be installed directly to the drain pan or clipped to the evaporator coil. The SS610E’s logic circuit continuously checks the probes for water and will shutdown the system if water is detected. The onboard LED lights indicate the condition of the unit at a glance, removing any guess work and will automatically reset once the water subsides. If necessary, the attractive casing of the CPU unit can be mounted directly to the side of the unit. The SS610E has no moving parts to break and can be wired to the units thermostat’s normally open or normally closed circuit.


These new switches and all other Safe-T-Switch® models are now available through Rectorseal’s nationwide distribution network. For more information, contact RectorSeal Customer Service at

1-800-231-3345 or visit the company on the web at


The RectorSeal Corporation is celebrating its 75th anniversary as a leading manufacturer of chemical and specialty products designed for professional tradesmen. Steady growth over the years has been maintained through a commitment to providing high quality products and services.  With a diversified business strategy, RectorSeal® aggressively pursues new and unique technologies to serve the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical and construction industries.  The RectorSeal Corporation is devoted to providing innovative quality products supported by strong customer and technical service.



 2601 Spenwick Drive, Houston, Texas 77055

Saving A Service Call…


It’s going to be May in just a week. And you know what that means. Those nice cool mornings and evenings will be gone till probably October. We will be firing up the A/C to combat the heat and the humidity. We want our AC’s to be efficient as possible and I have got 2 things that you can do your self without calling the A/C man. First the first time we have a spray that you can use to clean the evaporator coil. Before that has been a service call. But K.O. Dirt Blaster is easy to use and is less than $15. It’s a pressure wash for the coils that will clean them, and you don’t have to water rinse the coils afterward. I used it at the Lake. You just take the front cover off the AC, and then you can see the coils. I was surprised to see how dirty the coils were, but once I sprayed the K.O. Dirt Blaster the dirt just melted away. I cleaned them in minutes! Don’t worry you can’t make a mistake. If you don’t clean the coils the system doesn’t work as efficiently as it should and though it will still work, it will have to work harder. And you know what that means….$$$. While you are taking care of the coils, you will notice a pan that is below the coils. The coils drip into that pan. If the drain on the pan stops up, then the pan will over-flow. And it over- flows into the house. So that means if the AC is in the attic, the pan will over-flow into the sheetrock and can do a lot of damage. My daughter had one over-flow into her bedroom closet, and made a big mess. So drop a “ACTab EE” into the pan. If your pan is dry, it’s ok, because the ACTabb doesn’t work unless you have a problem

These two projects don’t take long, and will cost you less than $25. I don’t know about you, but a service call in SA, is way more than that. Stay cool my friends!


Now to the email…..


Question:I have a old commode that is a special color to go with the rest of the bath. I have been told that it uses a lot of water ever time we flush. I do not want to change out my toilet, but I do want to save water. So what can I do?

Answer: I know we all need to be responsible for our water. And there is something simple and easy to make your toilet a water saving one. Take out your old flapper, and replace it with a Frugal Flush Flapper. It will only use 1 ½ gallons of water per flush. I always recommend that people keep their old toilet if they can because they are so much better than the new toilets.

Question: Our pool tiles are falling off. We have tried many types of adhesives. The tiles are just above the water line and it seems that the surface that they need to stick back on is just not rough enough.

Answer: Lets clean the back of the tile and the place where you want to re-attach the tile. Use a product called Vera Safe, it’s made by Franmar. It will etch the tile, and that way you have a clean etched surface. Don’t worry, Vera Safe, is organic, non-fuming, and safe to use. When attaching the tile use a product called More Flex. Try one tile first, put it on and then squeeze down. Then use the More Flex to grout around the tile. Secure it with tape. Give it 72 hours to cure.

Question: The previous owners of this house spray painted the wood fence that extends from the back of the house to the garage. There is white over-spray on the red brick where the fence attaches to the house. We’ve tried wire brush and mineral spirits and power washing. Nothing works. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Use a product called Soy Gel. It works fast, and does all the work. It’s safe, and odorless. Put it on about a ¼ inch thick…do a test spot first. When you can take your finger and go all the to the brick, then you are done. Just rinse it off.

Question: I am really in a bind. I had an old double bed modified into a Queen. The guy did a really good job. But the plywood that he used smells bad. It makes the whole room smell. Help!

Answer: Just spray the plywood down, with Bio Zapp and let it dry. Just really soak the plywood…it won’t hurt will just take the smell away.

New Safe-T-Switch AC Condensate Overflow Switches are HVAC Industry’s Most Dependable and Easiest to Install

Electronic probe sensor and LED indicator combine for A/C system condensate drain dependability, diagnostics and monitoring.     

For Immediate Release

Monday, Jan. 23, 2012

Contact:  Jerry Tomasello–Dir. of Mktg.  or   John Parris Frantz
RectorSeal Corp.                              J.P.F. Communications Inc.
(800) 231-3345                                   (773) 871-2600                          

RectorSeal® Corp., Houston,  a leading manufacturer of quality HVAC/R products, introduces the Safe-T-Switch® Models SS103E and SS500EP condensate overflow shutoff switches featuring electronic probe sensors and an onboard LED display provide the industry’s most reliable operation, water damage protection, diagnostics and monitoring of commercial and residential air-conditioning systems and their condensate drains.

The SS103E is the next generation of condensate overflow prevention because it combines the functionality of Safe-T-Switch’s renowned Model SS1’s horizontal or vertical installation options with the Model SS3’s clip-on installation for primary or auxiliary drain pan edges. The result is one overflow switch that’s designed for the primary drain line and auxiliary drain pan or the auxiliary drain outlet and auxiliary drain pan of A/C systems. The SS103E is compatible with all A/C brands, offers the flexibility of vertical, horizontal or in-line installation, and also includes a 3/4-inch adapter, bushing and cap. The SS500EP also features the new electronic sensor probe and LED indicator and is UL-2043 plenum-rated, which offers the most compact water shutoff device for commercial down-flow rooftop units.

Both patented switches’ microelectronics logic circuits continuously sample via dual-sensor probes and determine whether moisture presence is transient or permanent, the latter which shuts down the system and sounds an alarm. The high-tech LED displays for the SS103E and SS500EP expedite on-site diagnostics with three LED-colored lights 1) Red–unit is shutdown; 2) Yellow–a shutdown event occurred within four days; and 3) Green–no shutdown occurrence.

Unlike other overflow shutoff switch brands, the SS103E’s removable cap allows easy access for contaminant cleaning and chemical treatments.

The SS103E and SS500EP features also include:

  • UL-508 listing and compliance with the International Mechanical Code’s shutoff switch mandates.
  • Improved electric carrying capacity to 5-amps, along with a simple 24-V, 18-AWG, two-wire design hook-up.
  • Reduction of false alarm events common among other brands.
  • Provided clip-on electronic probe for the SS103E offers optional extra protection when installed on the edge of primary or auxiliary pans.
  • The original concept of the Safe-T-Switch line was designed by a contractor for contractors.
  • Solid CPVC construction and a two-year warranty

For more information, please visit; email or call (800) 231-3345.



About RectorSeal: Founded in 1937, The RectorSeal Corporation is a leading manufacturer of chemical and specialty products designed for professional tradesmen. Steady growth over the years has been maintained through a commitment to providing high quality products and services. With a diversified business strategy, RectorSeal® aggressively pursues new and unique technologies to serve the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical and construction industries. The RectorSeal Corporation is devoted to providing innovative quality products supported by strong customer and technical service. For more information,  visit, email or call (800) 231-3345.


HOUSTON, TX – The RectorSeal Corporation, a Houston-based manufacturer of specialty products and tools for the HVAC industry, has expanded its line of patented  Safe-T-Switch® condensate overflow control switches with two new models, SS103E and 500EP. These electronic switches are reliable, easy to install and are code compliant.

As with all Safe-T-Switches®, the new models are designed for use in new or retrofit applications to protect home and commercial building owners from costly damage due to condensate overflow. The new electronic condensate overflow switch contains a low power consuming, state-of-the-art microelectronics. The A/C units will stop when the probes detect water. They offer A/C specialists an easy way to insure customer satisfaction and reduce potential liability.

The new SS103E switch can be installed horizontally or vertically, inline or on the primary pans auxiliary drain outlet and the secondary overflow pan. The dual sensor control provides added protection with the simplicity of installing a single device. The logic circuit continuously samples the probes for water. Onboard LED’s indicate the condition of the unit at a glance indicating an overflow condition currently or in the past 4 days. The SS103E is listed to UL 508.

The SS500EP is a plenum rated switch for installation on primary or secondary drain pans. The small, easy to use bracket fits perfectly in commercial roof top units. The simple 2-wire design is a state-of-the-art microelectronics that uses less energy. As with the SS103E, the onboard LED indicator removes the guess work on the condition of the unit. This switch is listed to UL 508 and UL 2043.

These new switches and all other Safe-T-Switch® models are easy to install with a simple 2-wire design and are now available through Rectorseal’s nationwide distribution network. For more information, contact RectorSeal Customer Service at 1-800-231-3345 or visit the company on the web at

Founded in 1937, The RectorSeal Corporation is a leading manufacturer of chemical and specialty products designed for professional tradesmen. Steady growth over the years has been maintained through a commitment to providing high quality products and services. With a diversified business strategy, RectorSeal® aggressively pursues new and unique technologies to serve the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical and construction industries. The RectorSeal Corporation is devoted to providing innovative quality products supported by strong customer and technical service.


2601 Spenwick Drive, Houston, Texas 77055

Oil Service

The heating season is starting and oil technicians will need tools to identify problems and then choose the best additive solution.  Below we will give the technician a quick and easy method to determine the problem and choose the right additive or corrective procedure.

Problem:  Icing

There are a number of times a technician must use his intuition and experience to evaluate the problem.  The technician should first check the tank for water by using TESTMASTER water finding paste if he suspects icing. If water is present, it is most likely in the lines and, therefore, pooling in low points in the system.

Ice in the tank will not give a positive reading on the water finding paste indicator. TESTMASTER water finding paste must contact water in order to react. It is easy to determine if the problem is ice provided a sample of the blockage can be obtained. The technician should take the sample and drop it into in a clear glass jar or bottle filled with warm fuel oil. When the sample melts, the ice crystals will form water droplets that will appear in the bottom of the container.

If there is ice in the line, how does the technician get the deicing additive to the blockage and quickly unblock the plug? This cannot be accomplished by pouring the additive into the tank unless there is a small amount of flow through the line to the oil burner. The quickest and best way to unblock a plugged line is to use deicer under pressure. This product type injects a large amount of deicer directly to the ice plug utilizing KLEAR-O-LINE. The ice plug will melt within 5 to 10 minutes after injection. Also, the water absorbents in the deicer will allow the plug to be burned with the fuel.

It is possible to deice by using a deicing agent added directly to the tank when there is ice in the tank.  Several bottles may be required for a severely iced tank. The deicing agents will drop to the bottom of the tank and begin melting the ice. It can take up to 2 to 3 hours or longer to effectively deice a tank. The length of time is dependent on outside temperature and the amount of water in the tank.

Problem: No Cold Flow

There are situations in which it can be difficult for the technician to differentiate between no oil flow due to icing in the line and a cold gelled oil. A fuel oil that has poor cold flow properties looks almost like “granular” Vaseline. The material when placed in your hand or on a warm surface will quickly turn back into a liquid. If placed into warm fuel oil, the gelled material will re-dissolve and leave no residue.

The reason fuel oil has a cold flow problem is due to the fact that it contains wax. Depending on the refinery and the oil feedstock, different heating oils will have different wax contents and crystal formations. Kerosene contains almost no wax, and therefore, it naturally has extremely low pour points. Burning almost pure kerosene will ensure no problems in cold weather.

There is one system that can get the oil moving again and help break up the gelled oil in the tank.  A quick way is to inject a deicer and sludge solvent with a KLEAR-O-LINE through the feed line back into the tank. The deicer must be added downstream of any check valves. The solvents, deicing additives, and the motion will break up the gelled oil. If the tank temperatures do not increase within an hour, the oil will re-gel.

Adding at least 15 % of the tank volume with kerosene containing a cold flow improver will keep the oil moving through declining temperatures. Many additives claim pour point depression. However, if the additive is a multi-use product, it does not contain enough pour point depressant to be effective. The one product “cures all” will not work under these conditions.

Problem: Copper Gelling

It is a known fact in oil refineries that copper and distillate fuel are not compatible. These incompatible materials form a copper mercaptide gel. Mercaptides are sulfur based organic compounds found in trace quantities in distillate fuels.  The reaction of mercaptans in the fuel with brass or copper forms an oil insoluble gel. Also, this gel is unaffected by ambient temperature and is actually an insoluble grease. In addition, the gel tends to stick to non ferrous metal parts and will plug brass fritted filters quickly.  A quick test is to take some of this gel and drop it into clean warm oil. If it doesn’t dissolve, it is probably a mercaptan gel. Once a gel has formed, it can only be removed by hand cleaning system components using a good degreaser. The use of a pressurized solvent cleaner will help force the copper gels through the system so they can be burned.

Future formations of mercaptan gels can be prevented by using SEASON OIL that contains metal deactivators or stablizers and water coupling agents. This class of additive specifically targets the copper and brass by reacting with the metal before the fuel can deteriorate.  It further prevents fuel deterioration by keeping these metals “tied up” and not allowing them to interact with the fuel.  Water definitely contributes to the gel forming process by freeing up copper ions. As a result, an additive must be used year round to prevent mercaptan gels from forming. This action is particularly bad in the summer when fuel is laying stagnant in the oil lines and pumps.

Problem: Microorganisms

There is a myth that microorganisms or “bugs” can grow in oil. This is not true. The bugs actually grow in the water phase of the oil tank and feed off the oil. You cannot get microorganism growth if you do not have water in the tank. Thus, the oil is only a food source. The microbes’ waste products include large amounts of acidic materials which are capable of corroding tanks, pipes, pumps, and fuel lines. The microbial bodies can plug filters and screens. Therefore, the key to preventing bugs in oil is to keep water out of the oil tanks.

There is no quick and easy test to determine if microorganism growth exists in the fuel oil tank. Slimy and stringy masses on filters and screens may be an indication of “bug” growth.  If you determine you have microbial growth in an oil tank, you should pump out the water. This will reduce the body count by 90 to 95%. Killing the bugs with a microbiocide and not removing the water will lead to serious filter plugging problems. There is no chemical means to remove the dead bodies. Therefore, they must either be removed mechanically or they will breakdown into finer filter plugging particles over time.

Once the water has been removed from the system, an EPA registered microbiocide may be introduced provided that the directions are followed accordingly. A good microbiocide will prevent future contamination. However, boron-based biocides tend to concentrate themselves in the water phase of the oil tank. Thus, continuous use of a microbiocide is suggested because this will disperse greater concentrations of biocide in the system.

Once a system has been contaminated, it will always be prone to future bug attacks. No biocide can truly sterilize a system. A few surviving organisms will always be present to re-contaminate the oil as soon as conditions are advantageous.  It is important to control the infiltration of water to help prevent recontamination. A diligent program including water testing with a water finding paste and year-round usage of an additive will prevent future problems.   For serious water infiltration problems, it is suggested to use some water dispersant to redistribute the water.

Problem: Sludge and Varnish

Sludge is a general name for a complex of organic and inorganic material. This matrix of sticky, oxidized by- products accumulates in tanks, lines, filters, and burners which can lead to oil burner and oil system plugging as well as outages. Sludge and varnish are constantly forming in a system and the amount of sludge and varnish accelerates with time.

To determine if you have sludge, take a small sample of the sludge and mix it with one ounce of a good commercial sludge dispersing product. If the sludge breaks up or re-dissolves within several minutes, you have chosen the right additive.  In order to maintain a satisfactory degree of cleanliness in an oil system, it is important to continually use a fuel oil additive designed for year-round usage.

When you encounter a newly formed sludge problem in the oil tank, we recommend using SEASON OIL which is designed to remove and disperse gross sludge problems. Initial treatment usually requires a double dose to get the fastest response.  If the oil line is plugged, use KLEAR-O-LINE under pressure to clear and dissolve the sludge and varnish in the oil feed line. Doing so will immediately restore oil flow. It is suggested that an aggressive fuel oil treatment program to prevent future outages.

A comprehensive additive program will save time, money, labor, and aggravation.  In addition, it will enhance your “customer retention” programs and convert ordinary heating oil into a premium fuel.  If service and performance are primary to your corporate vision, then the proper use of additives must be part of your service plan.  The wrong additive or the improper use of an additive promotes wasting of valuable dollars.

Keep your A/C Ship Shape in Record High Temperatures

Temperatures have been soaring this summer, which means air conditioning systems are working overtime trying to keep things cool and dry inside your home.

One common reason an air conditioning service technician is called to a job is because of condensate drain lines clogging. A/C drain lines clog due to thick mucus-like algae that grows inside the condensate drainage lines.

Over time, sludge forms in an air conditioner’s drain line and closes them up, not allowing condensate to drain. This happens because the normal current from condensate is not enough to flush the line. Tiny particles form along the bottom of the ‘P’ trap and in other parts of the drain line. These particles collect in one spot causing a clog. The water will then back up into the air conditioning drain pan. After the pan is full, water will overflow into the house. This is when most homeowners notice the problem.

Clearing the condensate drain line can be a messy job. One way to clear it is to cut the line near the air handler drain pan and blow out the line with a water hose or high pressure air hose. Another method is to use a wet/dry vacuum to suck out the clog; however this method requires an electrical outlet. A New product Mighty Pump™ is a lightweight but high powered pump that can vacuum or blow out a clog, is does not require any electricity. Simply attach the hose of the Mighty Pump to the A/C condensate drain line and pump the handle a few times to either vacuum or blow out a clog.

After the line is cleared, insert biocide tablets into the drip pan to prevent the growth of slime inside of your condensate line. This will prevent most blockages in air conditioning due to build up. Actabs™ Jr. is conveniently packed in bulk for treatments that last up to 3 months.

Another way to prevent flooding and water damage from a clogged condensate drains is to install a condensate overflow shut-off switch, this is installed on the drain pan and when a clog is detected the system shuts off preventing water damage. Safe-T-Switch has many models to fit different applications.