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    One of the worst-maintained oil-fired boilers we've seen (21 Posts)

  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 12:12 AM
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    One of the worst-maintained oil-fired boilers we've seen

    came out this week. Utica OU-500 steamer with Wayne MH burner. Owners were tired of the oil company not being able to get rid of the oil smell and high fuel bills. 

    Well, folks, it's not rocket science. First, you have to actually vacuum the firebox instead of leaving it full of soot and sulfur. Then, you have to actually brush out the flueways. After that, you actually have to bolt the flueway cleanout covers down instead of just sticking cement around them. Finally, you have to tune the burner with a digital combustion analyzer.

    There was a nice clean service tag with several recent "PMI" visits noted, all by different techs.

    The 2-inch colliding header didn't help either. This boiler has 2-1/2" tappings, and it wouldn't have been any harder to build a proper 2-1/2" header.

    Oh, and we don't need no stinkin' main vents! Someone really smoked those plugs in, we had to get them out with Kroil and an impact wrench.

    If you are a home or building owner who has an oil-fired boiler, this is definitely NOT what it should look like inside. If it does, you have the wrong people servicing it.

    If you are an oil company and this is how you "maintain" your customers' equipment, your company will fail. Guaranteed.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    This post was edited by an admin on October 30, 2010 1:10 AM.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 12:33 AM
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    Before we could commission the new boiler

    the 100-year-old gas service line had to be sleeved. The old pipe, designed for a houseful of gas lights, had filled with rust.

    I'm no fan of large utility companies, but BG&E got right on this. They had a crew on the scene within a couple hours of our call. Here we see them disconnecting the old pipe from its tapping in the cast-iron street main. The crew that installed the plastic sleeve came the next day.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • Gordo Gordo @ 6:51 PM
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    Gas Service Repair

    It may be of interest to some as to just what transpired in the gas service repair done by our local utility:

    After the hole was dug to expose the nearly 100 year old steel gas service and the cast iron gas main, the worker hit the pipes several times with a hammer to knock off the scale and rust.

    Next, he called to his helper for a hacksaw and proceeded to cut into the 1-1/2" steel service close to the edge of the pit.  He cut almost all the way through, stopped, then called for another hacksaw.  He used this second hacksaw to make a cut all the way through the pipe at the ell off the tee on top of the main.  He kicked this section of pipe out of the way.

    Please keep in mind that while these cuts where being done, gas was spewing forth at a pressure of 9+" W.C.

    Electrical tape was called for by the worker and he used it to tape over the cut hole on the main side.  He than used a hammer to strike the ell/tee to spin it off the cast iron main.

    The hole in the gas main was stoppered with a 1" black plug and tested with soap solution.

    After the hole was sealed for the day, the helper lit up and enjoyed a fine tobacco product.
  • Gordo Gordo @ 6:54 PM
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    Gas Service Repair

    It may be of interest to some as to just what transpired in the gas service repair done by our local utility:

    After the hole was dug to expose the nearly 100 year old steel gas service and the cast iron gas main, the worker hit the pipes several times with a hammer to knock off the scale and rust.

    Next, he called to his helper for a hacksaw and proceeded to cut into the 1-1/2" steel service close to the edge of the pit.  He cut almost all the way through, stopped, then called for another hacksaw.  He used this second hacksaw to make a cut all the way through the pipe at the ell off the tee on top of the main.  He kicked this section of pipe out of the way.

    Please keep in mind that while these cuts where being done, gas was spewing forth at a pressure of 9+" W.C.

    Electrical tape was called for by the worker and he used it to tape over the cut hole on the main side.  He than used a hammer to strike the ell/tee to spin it off the cast iron main.

    The hole in the gas main was stoppered with a 1" black plug and tested with soap solution.

    After the hole was sealed for the day, the helper lit up and enjoyed a fine tobacco product.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 12:41 AM
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    After the gas line repair was done

    we came out to commission the new 5-section G-8... just in time for a chilly Halloween weekend. We built the 2-1/2" header that should have been there all along, and installed a Gorton #2 vent on each main.

    Next step will be to replace the gas-fired water heater with a SuperStor indirect. You can see the aquastat, relay and piping stubs which will connect to it. This family has two future teenagers, so its extra capacity and better efficiency will be welcome.

    The water pressure in this house is poor, and would not open the check valves in a backflow preventer. We'll install one after the water service is replaced.

    The oil company could have had both the heating and hot-water loads if they had properly served this customer. The OU series boilers aren't bad if properly maintained, and a MegaSteam would have been even better. But the oil company chose to neglect this customer, and lost the account as a result.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    This post was edited by an admin on October 30, 2010 1:14 AM.
  • Jean-David Beyer Jean-David Beyer @ 9:03 AM
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    History a problem...

    When I bought my house, it had an old GE oil fired down-draft hot water boiler. It seemed to work OK: no smoke from the chimney and enough heat. Oil was around $0.40/gallon. Maintained by the oil delivery company.

    Eventually, the oil burner (not the whole boiler) quit. The symptom was oil on the floor; not lots, but IMO, any was too much. Apparently, there was a little electric valve at the bottom of the burner to prevent this, and the valve quit. GE had exited the home heating business years before, so no replacement was available, so they put in a Beckett burner. They would check the efficiency by measuring something in the pipe from the burner to the chimney. The temperature? I was always impressed by how low the efficiency was. Over 50%, but I had assumed it should be better. It was somewhat better with the Beckett burner.

    Soon after, this company was bought out by another company. I knew nothing about mainting a heating system, so I had them in once a year. They replaced the oil filter and the nozzle. Sometimes they looked at the color of the fire and some times they did not. They never measured the efficiency. One, and only one, time, the tech got another tech, and they pulled the burner out, and removed a whole lot of crap, even chunks of stuff, if I remember correctly. They cleaned off the soot from the flame retention plate (or whatever it is called). That is because they could not get it to burn right. I got the feeling that that inspection and cleaning should have been done more often. But it looked a real pain to pull the burner out each time, and there was no other way to do it. It was never done again.

    I guess the second company was even worse than the first, and that neither did an especially good job. A year and a half ago, I replaced that oil burner with a gas boiler. You have already heard my troubles getting suitable service for that.
  • ttekushan ttekushan @ 3:08 PM
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    And another

    satisfied customer, from the look of your work. Beautiful, guys.
    terry
  • TomM TomM @ 3:20 PM
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    question

    power gas burner and atmospheric in the same flue?  Is that safe?  Looks like flue gases could get back into the basement via the water heater.
    -
    Just wonderin.
    beautiful Conshohocken PA
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 3:40 PM
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    It's still negative-draft at the chimney

    so it's not a problem. The barometric swings in when the burner is on, indicating that the chimney is drawing.... not sure if that's clear in the pic. 
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    This post was edited by an admin on October 31, 2010 3:40 PM.
  • Charlie from wmass Charlie from wmass @ 10:56 AM
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    it just a matter of placement

    as long as the power burner fires in below the atmosperic and the draft stays negative it is not an issue. Another nice install Frank.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 10:24 PM
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    Thanks, Charlie

    it looks a lot like your installs ;-)
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • brian brian @ 3:32 PM
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    Just curious...

    hey Steamhead,
    I'm not being critical of your work as I am NO expert...but I'm just curious as to why no drop header? Is a drop header not always required or needed? Is this an instance where you should not put one in?
    Also, I've seen where many post here that there should be no copper above the water line. Is it acceptable here because that's the return line even though it's technically above the water line?

    Again, not questioning your work, but just curious for my own learning purposes...

    Thanks.
    Brian
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 10:21 PM
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    If there is only one riser from the boiler to the header

    there is no need for a drop header unless you have a height problem. In that case a drop header can give you the riser height you need to help dry out the steam.

    If there are two or more risers to the header, a drop header is much easier to put together because of the two extra swing joints. It also handles expansion better. So all of our boilers that use two or more risers have drop headers.

    We do like to use larger headers than the specified minimums, again because they dry out the steam better. Smith specs a 2" header for this model, we installed a 2-1/2" header.

    If the returns, equalizer and Hartford Loop are properly piped, no steam will ever reach them. And, the expansion stress isn't there since they're not expanding against the boiler sections. So copper is fine for those locations, and it doesn't plug up like black return pipes can.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    This post was edited by an admin on November 1, 2010 10:23 PM.
  • jpf321 jpf321 @ 11:31 PM
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    gifford loop caveat ..

    After reading Steamhead's note about the use of copper, If anyone is ever so inclined to pipe a Gifford loop, steam WILL get to the close nipple and elbow, so there may be a consideration about copper there. And there is of course, steam in the equalizer, so I guess steam on per se copper isn't too much of a worry where it isn't stressing sections or twisting "swing joints" ..
    Entire Site | MAIN WALL | Strictly Steam | Off-Wall

    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC
    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph
    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains
    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    venting worksheet download | Lost Art Of Steam Heating | my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics | old patents | pipe size chart | Copper Size Chart: K,L,M
    This post was edited by an admin on November 1, 2010 11:33 PM.
  • SteamHeat SteamHeat @ 7:17 PM
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    I Think He Means...

    jpf321 thank you for pointing me to this thread.

    I think when he wrote "If the returns, equalizer and Hartford Loop are properly piped, no steam will ever reach them.",
    Steamhead means the section of the equalizer that is below the waterline because the part that is above the waterline is the Header Drip Connection where the steam condenses back into water.

    Gifford Loop is interesting. I found the writeup here:
    http://www.energysavingscience.com/articles/henrysarticles
  • brian brian @ 7:51 PM
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    Thanks Steamhead

    Thanks for answering. I'm always looking to learn more about this stuff. It's interesting to me for some odd reason...
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 12:13 AM
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    SuperStor is done

    Gordo did his usual excellent piping job, including using half of a 4-inch riser clamp to support the circ.

    Note to those who have never installed a SuperStor: These units generally ship without an aquastat or T&P safety valve, so you'll have to provide these unless your wholesaler orders their stock to include these two items. The T&P must have an 8-inch probe to reach into the tank.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    This post was edited by an admin on November 7, 2010 12:23 AM.
  • jpf321 jpf321 @ 1:42 AM
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    looks great ..

    and now that I understand all the wiring and relay stuff, i'm even more keen to see it all laid out ..

    question, why was the 2nd boiler supply riser capped rather than used?
    Entire Site | MAIN WALL | Strictly Steam | Off-Wall

    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC
    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph
    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains
    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    venting worksheet download | Lost Art Of Steam Heating | my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics | old patents | pipe size chart | Copper Size Chart: K,L,M
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 7:05 PM
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    Only one riser is needed on this boiler

    and we left the second tapping available as a cleanout port. 
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • jonny88 jonny88 @ 9:06 AM
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    nice bronze pump

    I had to quote a similar job and insisted on a bronze pump as in Dans books.Lost the job but as always great pics and beautiful work.Happy customers.? i am pretty sure you are more expensive than other companies do you have to do a whole sales pitch etc,dont mean to hijack thread.thanks
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 1:06 PM
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    On this one

    there were several options for domestic hot water. We went over each one and this was what they went with, even though it cost more. I think they expected this equipment to last as long as they were in the house, and of course they had several future teenagers so abundant hot water at less operating cost was key. 
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
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