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Old 22-05-2008, 05:31   #1
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Growth in Saltwater A/C Cooling System

I am at the dock in Cartagena, Colombia. The area has unusual water conditions that lead to very fast growth of grass/algae on the waterline and, notably, my A/C system. I first noticed it by a complete fouling of the intake strainer. I have been in estuarine areas before and had high fouling conditions, but nothing like this. Now, I'm afraid it is building up in the A/C unit condenser and hoses.

Is there any way to remove this growth or limit its progress? I once flushed the A/C unit with a dilute mixture of muriatic acid and water to remove scale. Is there something similar I can do for this "grass?"

Thanks,
Dan
S/V Eventyr
IP40-129
Island Packet 40 EventYr
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Old 22-05-2008, 06:43   #2
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We keep a chlorine pool tablet in a double zip lock bag aboard our boat. To kill off the little growies in our raw water hoses, and eliminate odors, once in a while I will carve off a very small piece of the pool tab and drop it in the raw-water strainer. It seems to work pretty well but it is tough on seals and the strainer mesh itself so we don't do it very often. As an alternative, more recently I have been using a product known as "Salt-Away". Just adding the liquid allows it to pass through your system too quickly but if you soak a small piece of porus spong in it and put that in the strainer, it will leach out over a period of time and seems to work pretty well too. (Don't forget to remove the piece of spong!)

I recently had to do some work on our A/C system and in the course of doing so, back flushed the system with a garden hose after running some Salt-Away into it and letting that sit over night. I was amazed at the amount of junk that washed out. I intend to add two small Y valves to our input and output lines so that back-flushing can be accomplished without disassembling the entire A/C plumbing system in the future.

FWIW! Good Luck...

s/v HyLyte
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Old 12-08-2011, 15:26   #3
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Re: Growth in saltwater A/C cooling system

I had a captain tell me that he doesn't use the chlorine tabs as they're too hard on the units. He does cut a 4" piece of 3/4" soft copper pipe and drop it in the strainer. Remember when they could us a lot of copper in bottom paint? It kills growths such as you're dealing with.
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Old 12-08-2011, 21:37   #4
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Re: Growth in Saltwater A/C Cooling System

This is a huge problem in South Florida as well. Barnacal Buster by Trac Ecological is very popular for cleaning growth and calcium from insides of any water cooled equipment. It won't harm the pipes like muriatic acid will. Barnacle Buster
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Old 13-08-2011, 07:25   #5
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Re: Growth in Saltwater A/C Cooling System

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.... Barnacal Buster by Trac Ecological is very popular for cleaning growth and calcium from insides of any water cooled equipment. It won't harm the pipes like muriatic acid will. Barnacle Buster
How does this material compare with RydLyme? It seems much more costly and I have used RydLyme to good advantage over the last several years.
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Old 13-08-2011, 10:28   #6
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Re: Growth in Saltwater A/C Cooling System

I have never heard of RydLyme. It sounds very similar to Barnacle Buster. Is the RydLyme a concentrate that you have to mix with water or is it ready to use right out of the bottle? The Trac Ecological products are made in Ft. Lauderdale so that may be why it's popular in South Florida. I'll look into becoming a dealer for RydLyme. Shipping cost will be a factor. I just send my truck to pick up the Trac products. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 13-08-2011, 10:59   #7
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Re: Growth in Saltwater A/C Cooling System

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I have never heard of RydLyme. It sounds very similar to Barnacle Buster. Is the RydLyme a concentrate that you have to mix with water or is it ready to use right out of the bottle? The Trac Ecological products are made in Ft. Lauderdale so that may be why it's popular in South Florida. I'll look into becoming a dealer for RydLyme. Shipping cost will be a factor. I just send my truck to pick up the Trac products. Thanks for the tip.
RydLyme is a concentrate that is mixed with water as well, also made in the Ft. Lauderdale area, and, depending upon who one buys it from, generally sells for about $30-$40 a gallon. I recirculate about a half a gallon of a RydLyme and Water mix through our A/C system with a small submersible bilge pump during our annual Spring cleaning and it has kept our A/C unit clear and working very well. We use our A/C system for heat in the winter and to cool the boat during the summer and we're moored in pretty brackish water that really supports marine growth so this has worked well for us. A prior discussion of the material is at Using Rydlyme to Clean a Heat Exchanger

I have read that one can put short lengths of soft copper tubing in the strainer basket of a raw water filter to really prevent growth but but I am unsure whether this will really serve any useful purpose.

FWIW
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Old 13-08-2011, 11:59   #8
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Re: Growth in Saltwater A/C Cooling System

At $30.00 per gallon for concentrate RydLyme is actually a little more expensive than Barnacle Buster(BB). The reason is that BB is more concentrated. A gallon of RydLyme makes 2 gallons of working solution and a gallon of BB makes 5 gallons of working solution. We sell BB for $62.95 a gallon. That works out to $12.59 a gallon of working solution. RydLyme @ $30.00 a gallon works out to $15.00 per gallon of working solution. I'm sure RydLyme works just as well, I'm just saying that BB is more popular in my area. BB may sell for more in your area because it has to be shipped which could make RydLyme cheaper.
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