Boiler cracks signify serious problems with either stress-induced or corrosion-induced fatigue. A cracked boiler in your Baltimore, MD, home could lead to massive amounts of damage, even if the resulting leak is both hidden and slow. Following is everything you need to know about boiler cracks, including how to spot them.
Apart from a ragged, gaping hole and a sudden flood, the most obvious sign of a boiler crack is pooling water at the unit’s base. Although it’s easy to write these puddles off as errant drips from another source or a simple spill, even small pools of water should cause concern if they keep happening.
Unfortunately, water from cracked boilers don’t always pool in a visible area. If you have standing water behind your boiler or around nearby appliances or structures, it’s important to rule your boiler out as the source. It’s especially true if your basement floor has an incline.
You can also check for:
- Water spots on nearby baseboards or drywall
- Condensation on windows
- Excess biological growth in crawlspaces
Advanced Boiler Age
If your boiler is 15 years old or older, now is a good time to replace it. After more than a decade and a half of use, the costs of repairs could exceed its worth. However, another sure sign that it’s time for a replacement is the development of cracks.
During the cold season, your boiler is subjected to countless heating and cooling cycles. Also known as thermal stress, the resulting expansion and contraction can eventually cause the unit’s metal to split.
Even though it’s sometimes possible to seal a small boiler crack, high temperatures and times of high pressure often make replacement the preferable choice. Moreover, only a licensed HVAC service technician with boiler experience can determine whether to repair the problem or swap the entire unit out.
Insufficient Heat Caused by Insufficient Pressure
If your boiler is on and your home is still ice cold, the source of the problem could be a crack. Even if there isn’t pooling water near your boiler, a small crack and a gradual, virtually invisible leak will alter the system’s water pressure.
Insufficient pressure will keep the unit from doing its job. Small-sized cracks could take a month or more to have a noticeable impact on water pressure levels and performance, particularly during the cold season.
When boiler temperatures are low, damaged metal contracts and small-sized openings expand. At the same time, when temperatures are high, metal expands, and existing cracks are either fully or partially sealed. The water that they do emit evaporates due to high surface temperatures. Thus, you don’t have to have a puddle on your floor to have a problem with a cracked boiler.
Boilers with automatic water feeders can manually refill themselves to 12 psi or higher using a home’s normal water supply. If your hydronic heating system regularly replaces the water it’s losing from a small-sized crack, mineral build-ups and blockages might develop due to excessive hard water and frequent refills.
When HVAC technicians encounter mineral blockages in boilers with automatic feeders, they often look for slow and hidden leaks. Mineral build-ups lead to overheating and corrosion. More importantly, the additional stress they create could cause existing cracks to expand.
Unusual Sights, Sounds, or Smells
Look out for strange sights, sounds, and smells. Structural damage could result in water leaks. It can also lead to incomplete fuel combustion, gas leaks, carbon monoxide leaks, and other health hazards.
Be on the lookout for:
- Build-up of soot
- Rotten egg smells
- Loud popping, rattling, whistling, or kettling sounds
- Changes in the boiler flame color
- Oil spots on your floor (for oil-fired boilers)
- Evidence of rust around any of your boiler’s external components
Not every boiler crack is an obvious one. Without regular maintenance and inspections, a small-sized crack could go unnoticed for quite some time. Worse still, the underlying conditions that caused the crack will fester, and a larger and far more destructive crack could lie just ahead.
At Griffith Energy Services, our clients can count on us for timely and accurate diagnosis of boiler issues and consistently superior work. If you’ve noticed evidence of a boiler leak in your home, don’t wait. Reach out to our team for reliable repair and boiler replacement services.
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