Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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What Is Surging in a Boiler and Why Is It Dangerous?

One of the most common service calls we get at Calray Boilers is for surging in a boiler. This is a situation that can have long-term negative consequences for your boiler. Fortunately, boiler surging is largely preventable. Here’s how you can tell if your boiler is surging, what causes it, and how to stop it from happening in your New York City building if you are a property owner or manager.

How to Identify Surging in a Boiler

Priming, foaming, churning, and percolating

Boiler surging is sometimes also known as priming or foaming, which hints at what it looks like. When a boiler surges, the water level inside the tank goes up and down violently, like a coffee percolator or the sea during a storm.

As you might imagine, boiler surging is also noisy. The water slapping against the tank gets quite loud, which is often what alerts maintenance to the problem.

All that churning and sloshing also usually shows up in the sight glass. You’ll see the water rising and falling dramatically. The automatic water feeder may be activated more than usual, too, as it “thinks” the water level in the tank is lower than it actually is.

Within the building’s units, surging can result in radiator problems that tenants report, such as:

  • Loud banging (water hammer)
  • Valves spitting water
  • Not enough heat because there’s insufficient steam

Causes of Boiler Surging

Dirty water, poor maintenance, and more

Technically, boiler surging is caused by steam that cannot lift from the water’s surface inside the tank. This is because oil, grease, or particulates (sediment, rust, mineral scale, etc.) have accumulated on the surface. Sometimes grease in the boiler water is a remnant of a newly installed boiler that wasn’t properly cleaned. However, there are other causes of boiler surging as well:

  • Oil leaks that infiltrate the boiler water
  • Lack of filtration on the water supply
  • Low water pH (acidic) due to failure to treat boiler water
  • Wrong size burner or burner set too high, causing overfiring
  • Problems with a Hartford loop (installed incorrectly or wrong size)
  • Piping leading from the boiler is too small, resulting in high steam velocity (Bernouilli’s fluid continuity equation: A1V1 = A2V2, where A is the area of the pipe and V is the velocity of fluid)

It’s not uncommon for boiler surging to be caused by several of the factors above acting on the boiler water simultaneously.

Consequences of Boiler Surging

Flooding and boiler damage

A surging boiler is a disaster waiting to happen in your boiler room, and it can have multiple negative consequences. First, it can cause flooding, which means the water level in the tank becomes too high. This occurs when the automatic boiler feeder keeps getting triggered during troughs in water movement. It sends more and more water to the boiler tank when it’s not really needed.

Flooding puts excessive wear and tear on your boiler and can also result in poor heat produced for building occupants. It can cause sky-high water bills, too, if it goes on too long.

Surging can also result in the boiler firing more often. This uses more gas, which runs up your fuel bill. And like flooding, it causes the boiler to wear faster, thereby shortening its lifespan.

The dirt and debris that cause surging in the first place also reduce the lifespan of a commercial boiler. Therefore, you want to prevent surging before it starts by following the expert tips below.

How to Prevent Surging in a Boiler

Water treatment and maintenance

At Calray Boilers, we take a multifaceted approach when advising our clients on how to prevent boiler surging. Here are the steps you should take to avoid surging and keep your boiler in top shape to extend its lifespan:

  1. Always have the boiler cleaned after installation of a new unit or installation of a new tank.
  2. Clean the boiler when you notice the water in the sight glass looking dirty (usually it will turn brown or reddish-brown in color).
  3. Treat your boiler water to achieve the proper pH. It should be between 7 and 9, so it’s not too basic or too acidic. Calray Boilers can assist you with this, which will protect your boiler tank, improve the boiler’s overall performance, and save on the accumulation of particulate matter in your pipes and radiators.
  4. Make sure that if you have a Hartford loop, it’s sized and configured properly.
  5. Install the correct size (diameter) piping leading from the boiler to prevent overly high steam velocity as it exits.
  6. Schedule professional maintenance on your entire boiler system at least once per year, either at the end of the heat season or in the autumn before the start of cold weather.

Expert boiler service will help catch things that can cause boiler surging, such as burner problems and oil leaks. We also make sure the automatic water feeder and tank sensors are operating correctly. To make this easier for our clients, we offer annual service agreements, which lets you lock in a price and get priority service, with reminders when your maintenance check is coming due.

If your boiler is overdue for a maintenance session, don’t wait until you have a surging problem on your hands before you reach out. Call Calray Boilers today at 212-722-5506 to schedule a checkup.

Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

1. Purpose.

This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with

3. Use of Information.

Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

  • Improve our services and the Website’s content and layout;
  • Provide the services and necessary customer support you request;
  • Resolve disputes, collect fees, and troubleshoot problems;
  • Track and record customer satisfaction with our services;
  • Protect the Company against error and fraud;
  • Inform you of special promotions and announcements;
  • Enforce our agreements, terms, conditions, and policies; and
  • As otherwise described to you at the time of collection.

We may occasionally ask you to complete optional surveys. These surveys are used to improve and customize your experience with

The Company always provides you the ability to opt-out of further communication such as promotions and surveys; see the Opt-Out section below.

The Company does not share any of your personal information with outside organizations, companies, individuals, etc. The only exception to this standard is if such a disclosure is reasonably necessary to respond to any and all legal processes.

4. Links to Other Sites.

The Website may have links to other websites that may collect personally identifiable information about you. The Company is not responsible for the privacy practices of the content of those linked websites.

5. Safety & Security Precautions.

The Website has strict security measures in place to protect you and your information from fraud. Once your information is provided to Omnia Mechanical Group, we strive to ensure the confidentiality of your identity and information.

6. Opt-Out.

The Company provides you with the opportunity to opt-out of receiving promotional and other non-essential, marketing-related communications from Omnia Mechanical Group. If you would like to opt-out of these select communications, please see any of the Company’s email communications and follow the directions indicated.

7. Account Protection.

Your password ensures the security of your account. When choosing a password, the Company suggests using various characters. It is highly recommended that you do not disclose your password to anyone. (If you do disclose your password or your personal information with others, you are responsible for all actions taken in the name of your account.) If the security of your password is compromised for any reason, please contact the Company immediately.

8. Accuracy of Information

The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

9. Cookies

The Company may place a small cookie on your computer’s hard drive. This allows us to personalize your use on the Website. In order to maximize the functionality and usability of the Website, you must set your browser’s preferences to allow both permanent and temporary cookies.

10. Changing Your Personal Information.

Should your personal information change, please immediately update your information on the Website. This will ensure the accuracy of our records. The Company does retain personal information from closed accounts in order to comply with law and collect and disburse any fees owed.

11. Third Parties

This Privacy Policy addresses only the use of information we collect from you. Since does not control the privacy policies of third parties, you are subject to the privacy policies of those third parties. It is advisable that you consult with the management of third parties before you disclose your personal information to others.

12. General

We may amend this Privacy Policy at any time by posting the amended terms on the Website. All amended terms are immediately effective after they are initially posted on the Website.

13. Privacy Policy Questions & Concerns

Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: