Sources of Boiler Contamination

Although every steam circuit is different, when dealing with Boiler Contamination most systems will be able to narrow down the cause of contamination to just a few sources. For nearly all sources and types of contamination, the Pearl Trap provides a reliable and pro-active solution, virtually eliminating all contamination on the condensate side of the steam circuit.

In summary, the most common sources of boiler contamination:




Fig 1. - Makeup Water


Not every system will use Reverse Osmosis to purify Makeup Water, but at least a water softener will usually be in place. Poor quality makeup water creates a number of problems for a boiler like carryover or scaling.


Fig 2. - Process Contamination


Process Contamination is potentially one of the most dangerous and damaging sources of contamination. Process fluid can include milk, sugar, oils, and hydrocarbons. The nature of this source of contamination makes it very challenging to anticipate and isolate, as it typically only occurs when a process vessel malfunctions, sending slugs of process material straight into the boiler feed water.


Fig 3. - Iron (Rust) Contamination


Iron Contamination is more common in older condensate piping systems, but can also occur in systems where a chemical treatment is restricted due to the system design or regulations. Iron can be especially troublesome as it begins to accumulate in vessels such as the deaerator or boiler, either damaging the vessel or seriously hindering its performance.


Fig 4. - Carryover Contamination


For the most part, the chemicals present inside the boiler were not designed to leave the boiler. When Carryover Contamination occurs, those chemicals that escape into the steam/condensate will damage piping, steam traps, and process vessels, and will yield unacceptable condensate that should not be returned to the boiler. While boiler carryover is initially caused by some other problem, the carryover itself will exaggerate those problems if left unchecked, leading to a vicious cycle of contamination and boiler destabilization.


Fig 5. - Boiler Feed Water


All of the sources of contamination illustrated above ultimately end up as condensate contamination, and will end up returning to the boiler room. Most steam systems have no direct way to deal with the contamination at this point, and must hope they catch it early, and are able to fix the problem quickly.