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Old 12-11-2017, 07:01 PM   #1
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Any refractometer experts?

I tried to use my trusty refractometer for the first time today to check for the proper ratio of water/glycol of the century aqua hot fluid in my system. I did the calibration of this tool as outlined in the instructions and that went off without a hitch. After that I placed a few drops of the century fluid from the expansion tank in the viewing window of the refractometer and viola!!! I look through the viewfinder and all I see is white.

For those who have done this and are familiar with it there should be a blue color on top of the viewfinder and then white on the bottom and where those two colors meet is where you can read the mixing ratio in percentage indicated by a graduated scale. The aqua hot manual goes into good detail on this and how to do it, but it does not tell you whether to add either distilled water or boiler fluid based on what reading you are getting. Problem is that my reading was all white. No blue.

Anyone know what the story is with this? Am I really out of whack proportionally here? If so, what do I add? Distilled water or century fluid?

Thanks!!
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Old 12-11-2017, 07:20 PM   #2
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Well if it doesn't show up at all, then either it's a problem with the tool or the tank is mostly water. I'd use a sample of the coolant I know is new and correct and double check the meter. If it shows good with new coolant out of the bottle then I'd say the tank is mostly water. I've checked a lot of boiler's over the years that are mostly water. Normally not new systems such as yours but nothing ever surprises me when working on a new unit from any manufacturer.
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Old 12-11-2017, 07:37 PM   #3
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Well if it doesn't show up at all, then either it's a problem with the tool or the tank is mostly water. I'd use a sample of the coolant I know is new and correct and double check the meter. If it shows good with new coolant out of the bottle then I'd say the tank is mostly water. I've checked a lot of boiler's over the years that are mostly water. Normally not new systems such as yours but nothing ever surprises me when working on a new unit from any manufacturer.


Ok I was thinking the same thing as far as checking it out of the bottle. Will give that a try tomorrow and see how that goes.
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Old 12-11-2017, 07:53 PM   #4
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Yep, I would interpret that it is all water. Never thought that the meter is bad since you calibrated it. Your test tomorrow will be interesting!

Gary
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Old 12-11-2017, 08:03 PM   #5
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Any chance you can pull a sample from a system drain rather than the expansion tank? It's a bit of a reach but maybe you have a slug of water floating on top of the heavier century fluid.
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Old 12-11-2017, 10:41 PM   #6
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Gotta say..I don't know how you'd end up with 100% water (or even 75% water); I guess unless someone was into sabotage or something. Just saying.
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Old 12-12-2017, 12:32 AM   #7
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Everyone is saying the same things that were going through my head. I think the first plan of action will be to take a sample straight from the bottle. If that looks like it should then I will give aqua hot a call and see what they say about this odd reading.
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Old 12-12-2017, 07:47 AM   #8
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Sid, with the problems I have had with Century Fluid in the past, (sludge) nothing would surprise me about Century Fluid. Does it even have a consistent formula? Nobody would answer that question at Century Chemical Corp. in Elkhart after several requests.

Testing the Peak Coolant in the radiator would probably be a more accurate than Century Fluid.
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Old 12-12-2017, 08:03 AM   #9
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You might try using Fresh Century fluid of the proper ratio as a reference model.

See if that gives you a discernible Reading...then back to measuring your coach.
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Old 12-12-2017, 10:16 AM   #10
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Spoke with aqua hot this morning. They say taking the sample out of the expansion tank is fine. I’m about to try taking the sample straight from the century bottle and see what I come up with and go from there.
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Old 12-12-2017, 10:22 AM   #11
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Sid, with the problems I have had with Century Fluid in the past, (sludge) nothing would surprise me about Century Fluid. Does it even have a consistent formula? Nobody would answer that question at Century Chemical Corp. in Elkhart after several requests.

Testing the Peak Coolant in the radiator would probably be a more accurate than Century Fluid.


I remember the “sludge” thread. Read through it with great interest. Basically I did start to get some of that about two months after I stopped running the diesel burner and ran electric only. When I realized that turning off the diesel burner was the only thing I changed since the black/sludge began I removed the expansion tank and cleaned thoroughly and replaced and then started running the diesel burner 100% of the time. That was exactly two months ago and so far no sign of black/sludge. My fluid is 100% clear and green.
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Old 12-12-2017, 10:29 AM   #12
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Quote:
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I remember the “sludge” thread. Read through it with great interest. Basically I did start to get some of that about two months after I stopped running the diesel burner and ran electric only. When I realized that turning off the diesel burner was the only thing I changed since the black/sludge began I removed the expansion tank and cleaned thoroughly and replaced and then started running the diesel burner 100% of the time. That was exactly two months ago and so far no sign of black/sludge. My fluid is 100% clear and green.
So the electric heat is causing the fluid to break down?
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Old 12-12-2017, 11:04 AM   #13
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So the electric heat is causing the fluid to break down?


I don’t know. What I do know is that the black build up stopped when I stopped using electric only and started using the diesel burner at all times, so that is what I am doing from now on.
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Old 12-12-2017, 11:17 AM   #14
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So here is the refractometer;

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Very easy to use. I calibrated it using distilled water according to the instructions. Very easy and this is how it is supposed to look after calibration;

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This is a drain valve from the aqua hot where I took the fluid sample. The aqua hot tech said you can take it from the expansion tank or this little ball valve drain port;

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This is what the century green fluid looked like coming out of the drain; I saw particles in there, but no black and/or sludge;

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Here is what my refractometer shows for the century green straight from the bottle;

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Here is what the refractometer shows for my system fluid;

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Soooooo..... This is obviously a brand new system and looks like it’s mostly water. Not sure how that happened, but what I will do is start adding the 50/50 mix straight into the system. This will gradually bring the ratio into the proper proportion over time.

I wanted to post this since the “idea” is that the aqua hot burner will boil the water out of the fluid leaving the ratio where distilled water will be need to be added. This might sound right in theory, but I think I have proven here that this system was mostly water to begin with for whatever reason and therefore this theory does not apply.
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