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What is Kettling, and why is it Dangerous?

The sound of a kettle boiling over has the potential to be quite comforting. When that same sound it coming from a large boiler, however, it is considerably less comforting.

In fact, it can be downright unsettling. If you’ve ever heard a deep rumbling sound coming your boiler, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Sometimes it can seem as though the boiler might explode! Well, don’t worry. It won’t do that (at least it shouldn’t). What actually causes that sound, though? We’ll, that’s going to take some in-depth explanation. Let’s take a look at what that sound actually is, and why it’s so dangerous to your boiler.

What is Kettling?

That sound you hear is called “kettling”, and it’s a very bad sign for the health of your boiler. Its cause can be traced back to hard water, which is water with a very high mineral content. As hard water flows through the boiler’s heat exchanger, it deposits small amounts of minerals on the inner walls of the pipe. Over time, this mineral buildup can get so severe that it restricts or blocks the flow of water through the heat exchanger. This causes the water in the heat exchanger to evaporate into steam, putting massive pressure on the pipe and causing the rumbling sound you’re hearing.

Why is it Dangerous?

Did you know that most boilers are not actually designed to boil water? It may seem odd, but it’s true. When water boils, it evaporates into steam and expands many times over. This expansion puts the heat exchanger under an incredible amount of stress that it was not designed to handle. If the stress is not relieved, the heat exchanger may rupture and your boiler will break down. There are usually safeguards in place in the boiler to prevent this from happening, but it is a serious problem, nonetheless. If you notice your boiler kettling, shut it down immediately and call a professional.

If you find yourself in need of boiler repair, call ACI Northwest. We provide boiler repair services throughout Post Falls, ID.

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