Neutralizing Condensate in Condensing Boilers and Hot Water Heaters

With the growth of high efficiency condensing boilers, furnaces and hot water heaters, the installation of a condensate neutralizer is now a mandatory requirement.

What is Condensate?
Condensate neutralizerHigh efficiency condensing boilers and hot water heaters extract additional BTUs form the water vapor in the flue gas. When the gas drops below 130°F, it starts to condense and produces an acidic liquid which has the potential to cause damage to your piping, drains and other system components. When your boiler or hot water heater is operating in full condensing mode, approximately one gallon of condensate gets created for every 100,000 BTUs of input. So if your system runs for 1,200 hours each year, it will produce 1,200 gallons of condensate!

The acidic level of the condensate is measured in pH on a scale from 0 to 14. Most condensate will have a pH between 2.9 and 4 with 7 being neutral. This scale is not linear; each step below 7 is 10 times more acidic than the next higher number. Treated condensate must be close to neutral as possible with 5 being the minimum. Most national and state regulations prohibit the discharge of liquid into a drainage system without treating it to raise its pH. The easiest way to accomplish this is by treating the liquid using a condensate neutralizer.

How does a Condensate Neutralizer Work?
Treatment of condensate is accomplished by exposing the liquid to a media containing calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate makes up more than 4% of the earth’s crust and is found in the shells of fossilized snails, shellfish, and coral. The most common form of media used in a condensate neutralizer is limestone. The calcium carbonate in the media changes the solution into water, CO2 and various salts which collect in the bottom of the tank or tube.

Key Factors to Consider
Condensate-neutralizer1There are two primary issues to consider when selecting a condensate neutralizer – the percentage of calcium carbonate and the amount of surface area provided by the unit. You should choose a product that contains a minimum of 90% calcium carbonate and that has media dispersed across a large enough surface area to effectively treat the amount of condensate being produced by your system. Once you have a unit in place, it should be monitored regularly. Over time, the surface of the media will become coated or clogged and the efficiency will be reduced. At this point, you will need to replace the media.

San Jose Boiler Works provides and installs a wide range of pH neutralizing tubes and tanks manufactured by JJM Boiler Works that protect your system and the environment by raising the pH level of the condensate. We can assist you with selecting the appropriate size unit to meet your needs, help you monitor and check periodically for optimal results and recommend the appropriate maintenance (media replacement) intervals.

To learn which condensate neutralizer is best suited to counteract the acidity in your boiler or hot water heater, contact us or call (408) 295-5235.

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