Is it safe to run the calori­fier on empty?

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin: - TONY REPLIES… MICK EYRE, via email

I have a 50ft boat fit­ted with a twin-coil calori­fier. I drained the wa­ter tank and sys­tem to min­imise the risk of ice dam­age over the win­ter. Given that the calori­fier is empty, will I do any dam­age to it or the hot wa­ter sys­tem if I run the en­gine for a long pe­riod?

QAIn most cases, no dam­age will re­sult from run­ning the en­gine with no wa­ter in the calori­fier. How­ever, the wa­ter nor­mally tends to dampen vi­bra­tions in the coils so (in the­ory) a coil might workharden and snap. Such vi­bra­tion could do the same to the calori­fier skin if it’s made of thin metal.

On the odd oc­ca­sion a calori­fier failed when I worked on the hire fleet, it al­ways seemed to be a hor­i­zon­tal one and of­ten at the spring recom­mis­sion­ing, so I would be more wary about do­ing it with a hor­i­zon­tal calori­fier. I have run my own en­gine for long pe­ri­ods with­out wa­ter in a ver­ti­cal calori­fier with­out suf­fer­ing any dam­age.

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