Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How To Clean A Heat Exchanger

Here's a post on how we cleaned the heat exchanger on our Yanmar 50Hp diesel engine without using the ultra high pressure water jetting method.

Method 1 - Soak in Vinegar

We were advised by our dear friends that we could soak it in hot/warm vinegar. Unfortunately we did not have a big enough heat proof container to pour the hot/warm vinegar in. So in the end, we just soaked it in a plastic bottle and left it under the hot sun for a couple of days.

The heat exchanger after soaking it in vinegar
Still grimy in between the tubes
A couple of days later, the heat exchanger was definitely a lot cleaner than it was before, it works! but not quite to Alex's standards.

Method 2 - Soak in Barnacle Buster ®

Alex decided to get a bottle of Barnacle Buster ® from Budget Marine, a safe, non-toxic, biodegradable marine growth remover specifically formulated to clean seawater cooled equipment. Proudly manufactured in Florida, USA. It is said to dissolve barnacles, zebra mussels, calcium, rust, lime and all other mineral deposits. It also boasts that most applications can be completed within 4 hours!

And so.. we took it to the test and soaked half the heat exchanger in the Barnacle Buster (follow instructions for ratio) for about an hour and a half (be careful not to soak it for too long), rinsed it off with water and gently brushed it with a metal brush. We are pleased to say that it worked very well and repeated the process for the 2nd half of the heat exchanger. See photos below.

Rinsing off the chemical with water and brushing it gently with a metal brush
A huge difference between before & after
Here's an After photo.
We still had to run a LOT of water through it to wash out all the deposits inside.
End result - (almost) shiny like new!
Re-assembling the heat exchanger into the Cooling Fresh Water Cooler
The Barnacle Buster $227.08 TTD excl. 12.5% VAT (~ $32.50 USD)
The 2nd method is a lot dearer than the 1st, but it worked quite well and saved us a lot of time.

To be honest I was a little apprehensive at first, I thought this was going to be yet another fancy labelled high priced bottle of waste. Glad I was wrong and apparently we can also use it to clean: -
  • A/C & refrigeration cooling systems
  • Engines seawater cooling systems
  • Bow Thrusters
  • Water Makers
  • Sea Strainers
  • Propellers
  • Seacocks
  • Pumps
  • Piping
  • Hulls
Great! Look forward to making the most of this. Anything that helps reduce the need for elbow grease always gets my vote! :)

Do you know of any other method to clean a heat exchanger? We'd love to hear about it.


  1. Hi there, I enkoy reading through your post. I wanted to write a little comment to support you.

  2. bookmarked!!, I like your website!



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