Published: July 31, 2017 - by Dan Holohan

Categories: Steam

If the water isn’t right, the steam won’t be dry.

Dry steam is a technical term. It means that the steam leaving the boiler contains no more than two percent liquid water. That’s what’s best for the steam heating. More liquid than that will probably cause much of the steam to condense before it reaches the radiators. The steam gives up its latent heat energy to the liquid that it’s carrying along with it, and winds up carrying fewer Btus to the radiators. The result? You paid good money to make the steam, but it died before it had a chance to warm the people. And that’s not good for the budget.

Here are the main things that go wrong with boiler water:

  • It can contain oil
  • It can be too hard 
  • It can contain too much acid or too much base, and when it comes to pH, we’re looking for the Goldilocks approach – not too much, not too little, but juuuuust right.
  • It contains too much dissolved solids, which is a fancy way of saying it’s just plain dirty.

Want to learn how to fix the boiler water in your steam-heating system? Check out Greening Steam: How to Bring 19th-Century Heating Systems into the 21st Century (and save lots of green!).