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    Water not going to boiler (25 Posts)

  • 156yroldCityHall 156yroldCityHall @ 7:07 AM
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    Water not going to boiler

    Hi everyone...just wondering if someone can help me out with a new problem that has come about....
    Since Friday, the heat will not stay on..I noticed that the glass tube is empty of water, and when I try to bring water to it, it just doesnt fill...I also noticed that the smoke opacity meter is maxed and the red light is on the box....
    I take it that the boiler keeps shutting off on me cause there is not water in there...
    Can someone tell me why the water is not staying in the boiler.....
    Thank you
  • STEVEusaPA STEVEusaPA @ 7:59 AM
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    I think...

    The red light you are referring to is your low water cutoff. Are you sure water is going in as you add it? Maybe the water feed is blocked/plugged not letting water pass. If this is not the case, the water has to be going somewhere, right? Are your return lines piped correctly? In other words, do you have a Hartford loop, or could water be flowing directly into a wrongly piped return, and leaking out somewhere?
    steve
  • 156yroldCityHall 156yroldCityHall @ 9:46 AM
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    smoke opacity meter, etc

    Everything has been running fine up until Thursday...I drained the boiler as usual, and the water wasnt feeding back in it afterwards like it always did...I returned about 2 hrs later to the boiler room, where when I opened the valve sure enough, it filled it....friday morning it kicked on at the usual time, but shut off 20 minutes later...when i went downstairs to check whats going on, the glass tube was empty which was the reason for the shutoff i assumed...i opened valve and filled it to where i could see about a quarter of the glass tube filled with water and turned on the boiler and it worked fine...now this morning, same problem.(it was on for 20 minutes then it shut down and the glass tube is empty)..
    Since thursday is when i noticed that the smoke opacity meter is maxed out, and there is a red light on the reader....there is a setup close to that meter where there is a light that projects through a vent of some sort, and you are supposed to see the light on the other side of that vent..One thing that the guy before me who retired did tell me was that if you cannot see the light on the other side, then that means there is smoke blocking it inside that vent but that was all i was told about that or anything else for that matter....I always have seen it however, since thursday, there is no light...
    I'm not sure what the problem is but if someone has some advice for me i'd appreciate it.....i can take pictures if need be....
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 5:01 PM
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    Smoke opacity meter

    Is there a nameplate on that meter? Maybe it's some sort of self regulation device for the burner, like the engine management system of a car engine. Hopefully, it is not being blocked by steam from a leak in the boiler!
    Could there be a secondary valve between the manual feed, and the boiler which is closed? Maybe a stuck check valve.--NBC
  • Jamie Hall Jamie Hall @ 6:07 PM
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    Two separate problems here

    which, unfortunately, may be related.

    First.  As I understand it, you can fill the boiler so there is water visible in the sight glass.  Then the boiler fires just fine.  However, after about 20 minutes (ye gods!) there is no water in the sight glass, and the boiler shuts down and stays shut down.  However, if you add water manually, you can, and the boiler starts up OK.

    This suggests very strongly that you primary low water cut off is doing its job -- shutting off the boiler on low water -- and that it has an automatic reset.  That's the good news.  (There should be a secondary low water cut off with a manual reset, but apparently that isn't getting hit).  The bad news is -- where is the water going?  It has to be going somewhere, and on the face of it it sounds like you have one heck of a leak somewhere.

    This is where the two problems may be related: if you have a leak at or near the water line, the steam may be going into the combustion chamber and messing with the combustiion, or just causing apparent opacity all by itself -- thus lighting the red light and the warning about opacity.

    Take a look for a leak...
    Jamie

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • furnacefigher15 furnacefigher15 @ 10:04 PM
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    Leak

    If the returns are gravity, and buried in concrete, that's where it's going.

    If the system is a two pipe, with a boiler feed, or return pump, that may also be the issue.

    I'd think if it was leaking into the boiler, you'd notice that by now.
  • 156yroldCityHall 156yroldCityHall @ 6:37 AM
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    NBC,JAmie,Furnace.....

    Thanks for the reply..Good to hear from you guys....Again this morning the same thing happened....Yesterday to have it ready for this morning, I filled boiler so water was a little less than half full in the sight glass....I came in this morning and heat was working fine...However, again, about 20-25 minutes into the cycle, everything just shut off, and after checking again, there is no visible water anywhere down in the boiler room due to a possible leak......
    As far as the smoke opacity and the light that shines through vent to see it on the other side of vent, as mentioned in an earlier post....Yesterday, I opened up the back of the box to see if there was a bulb to change and when i closed the back of the box, the light went back on and illuminated on the other side of vent again....after that happened, the smoke opacity meter then adjusted itself, and was no longer maxed out, and the red light was off... however this morning after heat shut off, sure enough it was maxed out, and red light was on again......
    ANy suggestions?
  • 156yroldCityHall 156yroldCityHall @ 6:37 AM
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    NBC,JAmie,Furnace.....

    Thanks for the reply..Good to hear from you guys....Again this morning the same thing happened....Yesterday to have it ready for this morning, I filled boiler so water was a little less than half full in the sight glass....I came in this morning and heat was working fine...However, again, about 20-25 minutes into the cycle, everything just shut off, and after checking again, there is no visible water anywhere down in the boiler room due to a possible leak......
    As far as the smoke opacity and the light that shines through vent to see it on the other side of vent, as mentioned in an earlier post....Yesterday, I opened up the back of the box to see if there was a bulb to change and when i closed the back of the box, the light went back on and illuminated on the other side of vent again....after that happened, the smoke opacity meter then adjusted itself, and was no longer maxed out, and the red light was off... however this morning after heat shut off, sure enough it was maxed out, and red light was on again......
    ANy suggestions?
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 7:24 AM
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    Steam from the chimney?

    When you refill, check the chimney as it fires for white steam coming from the top. This may be one sign of something leaking, although, I would be surprised by the short time it takes to go from full to low-water. You don't have too many days to observe the steam.
    If you see steam, then the next step is to over-fill the boiler, and let stand overnight if possible. Because of your condensate feed pump, you may need to use a hose through the pressure relief valve tapping.
    I certainly hope there is no leak, but from what you have told us of the system, the boiler may have had a hard life, with it's improper piping.
    When repairing, this will be an opportunity to correct these faults, and get back to factory specs!--NBC
  • 156yroldCityHall 156yroldCityHall @ 8:08 AM
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    NBC

    I was just down there trying to figure something out..It seems like the recovery pump is running, but when I open the valve I normally would to fill the boiler back up, it doesnt seem like there is water running through the pipes..However, if i shut the switch to the recovery pump, wait a minute or so, then turn it back on, then I can hear the water running and it flows into the boiler..(most of the time)
    Also, not sure but it seems as though the valve on the boiler that I would normally open to let water into it is not really functioning as it should...when it's open, it seems that water is draining across the room in the underground drain pipe where before it seemed like it would only drain out if the other valve (on left side of boiler) was open..
    There is only one reset button which is near the low water cutoff side of the boiler(left side)...the valve on the right side is the one that i would open to let water back into the boiler....
    if more pics are needed, please just let me know....
  • furnacefigher15 furnacefigher15 @ 5:12 PM
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    Do you mean

    The blow down valve? The ball valve below the left side LWCO?

    If the valve is stuck open, that could account for the loss of water.

    The blow down should only be open when performing blow down.
  • 156yroldCityHall 156yroldCityHall @ 7:05 AM
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    Boiler losing water

    so I just watched the whole cycle of the boiler until it shut down again....
    The sight glass was filled between 1/4 and 1/2 with water...the boiler kicked on, everything was going good...However, within 20 minutes, the boiler stopped, and the sight glass is now empty...If I leave it be, the sight glass will fill to about 1/4 full, on it's own within an hr or two....
    what seems to be the problem here? 
  • 156yroldCityHall 156yroldCityHall @ 7:06 AM
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    Boiler losing water

    so I just watched the whole cycle of the boiler until it shut down again....
    The sight glass was filled between 1/4 and 1/2 with water...the boiler kicked on, everything was going good...However, within 20 minutes, the boiler stopped, and the sight glass is now empty...If I leave it be, the sight glass will fill to about 1/4 full, on it's own within an hr or two....
    what seems to be the problem here? 
  • Jamie Hall Jamie Hall @ 12:32 PM
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    I've heard of slow condensate return

    but that's just ridiculous.  But that's what this sounds like -- incredibly slow condensate return.  Somewhere out in the system a lot of condensate is stacking up, and taking it's own sweet time to get back to the boiler.  I presume that it is coming back very slowly but steadily?

    The trick is going to be in finding out where -- and why.  Some things I might look for -- and I'm talking off the top of my head here -- an almost plugged wet return line.  An f&t which is failed almost shut.  A closed (almost) valve on a return somewhere.  And so on...
    Jamie

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 1:18 PM
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    156

    Are you making steam in that time? Is your condensate tank empty? Has that trap above it failed again? With all the crap from the system going through it, I can see where it would not last very long.
    This post was edited by an admin on March 15, 2012 1:24 PM.
  • LarryC LarryC @ 4:08 PM
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    At least two issues. Slow condensate and water loss.

    156,

    It sounds like you have at least two issues.  Slow condensate return and water loss.  If it was just slow condensate return, I would assume that most of the missing water would show up by the next morning.  Since the system apparently shuts off due to low water and the sight glass still remains empty the next morning, I assume the water is "lost".

    Does the condensate receiver have some sort of sight glass where you can check the water level? 
    If the receiver water level is low, that means the water is not making it back to the tank.  Where is the water?  Stuck behind trap(s) perhaps?  Lost up the chimney?  Hiding in radiators with bad air vents that do not let air back into the radiators?
    If the receiver tank water level is high, why can't the water leave?  Bad pump, bad pump switch, clogged flow path, excessive boiler pressure?
    Do you have a bypass valve around the trap feeding the condensate receiver?
    If you open the condensate return piping drain valve, do you get an excessive amount of water?
    Excessive water out of the condensate return piping drain valve could indicate a stuck shut or clogged trap between the drain valve and the receiver.

    Any progress with the trap survey and repair?
  • 156yroldCityHall 156yroldCityHall @ 7:46 AM
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    Water in Sight Glass....

    Thanks for the reply guys...
    For the past 2 mornings, when I come in the morning and check out the boiler, there has been water in the sight glass(about 1/4 full)....however, once running for about 20 minutes, still it shuts down, and it doesnt seem to fill manually, it just has been doing it(filling) on it's own..(I notice it in there the next morning)..It is making steam, and the pipes have been clunking, but it seems like whenever the pressure starts to rise, is when it shuts down..I checked all valves to make sure they are the way they should be, and they all seem fine....I too was thinking it may be a clogging issue, but if that was the case, would it still run for 20 minutes?.....
    The smoke opacity meter has been maxed out with a red light on since the problem has begun....(not sure if this may just be a coinsidence....
  • 156yroldCityHall 156yroldCityHall @ 7:50 AM
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    Larry,...

    Larry..
    I have brought up the idea of a survey, etc, but at this point, the city is hanging on by a thread and is on the vurge of going bankrupt by the end of the month....
    With the nice weather upon us, it may be an issue that will have to be dealt with during the summer or fall months to have it ready by next winter....It has been brought up to the director though.......
  • Jamie Hall Jamie Hall @ 9:50 AM
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    Indeed it could

    run for about 20 minutes before shutting down.  In fact, that's a rather reasonable time frame for a boiler with very slow condensate return to run, particularly if it's from a cool or cold start.

    The fact that it refills by itself indicates one of two things: you either have an automatic water feeder in the loop somewhere, with a very long time delay, which is compensating for a serious steam leak -- but I think that that has been discounted as an option.  or Rather I still think -- I could be wrong -- that something is causing a very very long delay on condensate return.

    Summer might be a good time to look at this!

    The opacity meter issue is, I think, quite separate -- and I'm not even remotely  knowledgeable about such things!
    Jamie

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Mark Eatherton Mark Eatherton @ 10:09 AM
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    The two could be related....

    IF, there was a small hole at the water line (common) and the water loss was coming from this leak (as evidenced by white steam plumes at the vent termination during warmer weather) then the two COULD be related. Steam is obscuring the opacity, and causing the water loss.

    Question; Can you build pressure? (If you can isolate the boiler and fire it and hold pressure, then that would eliminate that possibility). I can't tell if you have enough isolation to do so, but if you can it will answer THAT important question.

    Secondly, who's make up water control is being used, and how is it programmed?

    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Wethead7 Wethead7 @ 4:11 PM
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    Steam trap

    I would look for a steam trap not opening also. If you any Float and thermostatic traps. The float could be broken and the thermostatic still working. The result is slow return of the condensate.

     A number of other issues could be causing this. I wish you luck.
  • Jim Pompetti Jim Pompetti @ 5:08 PM
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    look

    for a plugged return .water may be slow returning
  • Jim Pompetti Jim Pompetti @ 5:08 PM
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    look

    for a plugged return .water may be slow returning
  • LarryC LarryC @ 1:27 PM
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    Any updates?

    156,

    Any updates?

    Did you check out the condensate receiver water level?

    Larry C
  • LarryC LarryC @ 1:27 PM
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    Duplicate

    This post was edited by an admin on March 20, 2012 1:28 PM.
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