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    Water boils into pipes. (24 Posts)

  • MilwaukeeDan MilwaukeeDan @ 12:39 AM
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    Water boils into pipes.

    What is or are the conditions where the water boils out of the boiler, boils through the pipes and comes out of a main vent? This is in a 8 unit apartment building and the vent that the water comes out of is at the opposite corner of the basement. Of course there are other issues that come with this condition (water hammer etc.) but I think if I solve this issue, the others go away... Please help.
  • nicholas bonham-carter nicholas bonham-carter @ 5:10 AM
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    Overboiling 8-plex

    First check your pressure, and see if it goes above 1.5 psi (2 ounces is better!).
    Is the water clean and steady during the burn?
    Have you got adequate main vents, and slow radiator vents (Hoffman 40's)?--NBC
    This post was edited by an admin on April 5, 2013 10:07 AM.
  • MilwaukeeDan MilwaukeeDan @ 6:42 AM
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    dirty water

    The water that comes out during blowdown once a week or so is very red. The trail left to the drain in the boiler room is filled with red dust on the floor. The water in the boiler seems very rough and turbulent during the burn... now that that main vent has had the red water come out of it is it necessarily clogged? or less efficient now? ... The main vents were replaced this year and I try to use slower vents on the radiators closer to the boiler and faster ones further away.
  • MilwaukeeDan MilwaukeeDan @ 6:44 AM
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    Pressure

    The pressure seems to be below 1.5 psi.
  • Jamie Hall Jamie Hall @ 8:24 AM
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    Couple of thoughts...

    well, several.

    First, if the water seems turbulent while the boiler is firing (particularly if you see it bouncing up and down more than a couple of inches in the sight glass) it is possible that somehow the boiler water has gotten some oil or something of the sort in it, or the pH is 'way too high.  You might try skimming the boiler for starters.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the red gunky water when you drain the boiler; that's more or less normal and to be expected.  And I wouldn't drain the boiler more than once a year, if that.

    Second thought -- how's the water level?  If it is running too high -- say almost at the top of the sight glass -- there may not be enough clearance over the water line to avoid having some water, even under good water conditions, carry into the risers.

    Which leads to a third thought: how's the near boiler piping?  If the near boiler piping is at the manufacturer's minimum, and the water level is high, you may well get carry over in the mains.  On the other hand, if you have a nice big dropped header arrangement it's almost impossible to do so, barring some real flooding.

    Not a bit surprised you are getting water hammer at this point, and you are quite right -- get this solved and that may go away (but may take a while).

    The main vent may or may not be clogged.  Hard to say.
    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
  • Charlie from wmass Charlie from wmass @ 8:40 AM
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    location of vent?

    If the main vent is right at the end of the pipe at a vertical drop it will be prone to spitting and even spurting water. Main vent should be 12" OR MORE  back from a change in plane for the return.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 10:25 AM
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    Pictures

    Lets see some pictures of the boiler and its piping. 
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • MilwaukeeDan MilwaukeeDan @ 11:03 AM
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    piping pics

    Here are some pics of the piping. Let me know if they show what you are looking for or if I need different views.

    Thanks,

    Dan
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 11:58 AM
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    Piping

    Hi Dan,

    I don't know the condition of the boiler water or if the boiler ever worked properly but what I can say is It is piped incorrectly.  I have attached a picture which shows the proper piping and pipe sizes.  I don't know what size boiler you have but I have to assume it should have two 3" risers into a 3" or 4" header.  There must also be an equalizer to allow condensate to drain out of the header.  This all is to ensure dry steam and to keep the boiler water out of the mains and in the boiler where it belongs.  WM probably lists yours as needing two 2 1/2" risers, but I would go with the largest size it supports which should be 3".  With steam piping, bigger is almost always better.

    If you look at the pictures in my signature, you can see an example of correct piping, though my boiler is a baby version of what you have and I only went with 2" risers into a 3" drop header which is still well beyond the minimum requirements.
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
    This post was edited by an admin on April 6, 2013 12:01 PM.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 12:17 PM
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    Whoever piped that boiler

    either did not read the instructions or was functionally illiterate, because the instructions are quite clear. You can't fix stupid.

    You need to have that boiler repiped properly. Period. Otherwise it will never work properly.
    "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.
  • MilwaukeeDan MilwaukeeDan @ 8:14 PM
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    piping arrangement

    In the photo, each of the risers out of the boiler is piped to a separate main that goes off in a different direction. In the drawings I have two piping options. First, I can see that I forgot to draw the header offset so it's not directly over the risers, so try not to notice that. But, after that, is either one of those options better than the other one?
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 8:16 PM
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    Only one

    Is proper, the first one.

    Steam mains must both connect into the header separately. The second option is what would be called a bullhead tee and essentially you're asking the steam to go in two directions and it usually doesn't like doing that.
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • JStar JStar @ 8:23 PM
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    Steam

    Actually neither is correct. It needs to look like this...
    - Joe Starosielec
    732-494-4357
    j.star@thatcherhvac.com
    http://thatcherhvac
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    Guaranteed performance. Guaranteed energy savings.

    Serving all of NJ, NYC, Southern NY State, and eastern PA.
    Consultation anywhere.
    (Formerly "ecuacool")
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 8:25 PM
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    Ugh

    Sorry Joe I missed that.

    You cannot have the takeoffs in between the two risers. They must come after the two risers out of the boiler, but before the equalizer. This keeps water flowing in the same direction and draining via the equalizer.
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • And...

    The supplies must come off the top of the header or at least 45 degrees up.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)
    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert


    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • Hap_Hazzard Hap_Hazzard @ 8:06 AM
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    Or like this

    Note the long, straight boiler risers.
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S

    3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • MilwaukeeDan MilwaukeeDan @ 12:34 AM
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    Thank you!

    I want to say thank you to you all for some awesome answers to my questions. This site is a very valuable resource to a person without a lot of experience in this field... Here is another drawing that fits the boiler I'm working on more closely. Does anybody see anything Im doing wrong with this one? or can I use this one to explain the situation to the building owner. Man am I glad spring is here. my apartment is freezing. I think that with the revised piping and some more vent work, this building will be in ship shape for the next heating season... next question and discussions will be under controls. Hope to see you there. Thanks again.

    Dan
  • Hap_Hazzard Hap_Hazzard @ 7:34 AM
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    Details

    That looks pretty good, but there are a couple of things that I'd change.

    First, that boiler riser in the foreground should go all the way to its maximum height before it takes a bend. Apart from good header design, nothing is more conducive to dry steam than a long vertical rise where water has no place to collect and can only fall back into the boiler. Also, this design makes it easier to ensure that any water that condenses in that top horizontal section either runs into the header or back to the boiler. You don't want to create a situation where water can get trapped.

    Second, there's no reason that second system riser should come off at a 45° angle. You want to force the steam to make a 90° turn to exit the header. Any water droplets that are suspended in the stream will tend to keep moving in a straight line because of their higher inertial mass, so they'll get flung off towards the equalizer as the steam goes out the riser.
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S

    3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Dont forget a Hartford loop...

    if you have a gravity returen and follow minimum pipes sizes from the manufacturers charts.  Larger is better.  Probably for your boiler that would be 2- 3 inch risers from the boiler into a 4 inch header, with a 1 1/2 inch equalizer.  Also, despite that the manufacaturer (it looks like you have a Weil McLain EGH boiler) says nothing about it in the install manual, do not use welded piping for the header. Using welded piping can pretty much guarantee boiler failure within 14 years and leaks well before that.
    Looks like you're up in Milwaukee....its been a few years since I traveled up your way (really nice downtown and botanical gardens).   I'm up in Winnetka, Glencoe and Highland Park failrly regularly.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)
    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert


    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 11:43 PM
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    If you can get Dave to come up

    do so. You can't do better.
    "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.
  • Hap_Hazzard Hap_Hazzard @ 8:00 AM
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    Did you say "red"?

    I'm a little concerned about your description of the boiler water. Normally the water in a steam boiler takes on a muddy brownish color while it's boiling, due to all the suspended rust particles. If it's allowed to stand for a few hours, most of these particles should settle out, leaving the water clear or slightly tea-colored. If you're seeing red, your suspended iron is mostly in a different oxidation state. This could be caused by either too much oxygen in the water, which is unlikely, or low pH and/or low alkalinity.

    Do you happen to know anything about the pH of your water supply? Most experts recommend a pH of around 11 and medium alkalinity.

    This is something that can be easily addressed, but you might want to start a new thread, and if you can post a picture of a sample of the water under natural lighting then we'll be able to see if I'm getting all excited over nothing.

    If there is a serious water quality problem, it might be worth it to have them clean and inspect the inside of the boiler while they have the piping taken apart.
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S

    3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • MilwaukeeDan MilwaukeeDan @ 10:19 AM
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    "T" and Water

    Ok, so I should "T" up out of the header, 90 over, then 90 up instead of a 45, got it. Run both risers high before turning, roger that.... The water in the sight glass does look brown. The residue left on the ground after the water dries is red, and the residue on the main vent and piping is also red. I will get pics of water on here in a little bit.
  • Hap_Hazzard Hap_Hazzard @ 11:20 PM
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    That makes sense.

    The oxidation state of your precipitate can change if it stays damp while exposed to the air. As long as it's brown in the boiler you're good.

    Sorry I forgot to mention the Hartford loop, but Dave Bunnell caught it. These pros are thorough. That's what makes this forum great.

    Speaking of Hartford loops,some of these guys are using wye fittings instead of tees for their Hartfords. It makes a lot of sense.
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S

    3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Rod Rod @ 5:33 PM
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    Info Sources

    Hi Dan- Once you get your near boiler piping straightened out, your system should work far more efficiently.
     Here’s some more info sources  that may be of help to you.
    1. This is a video of Dan’s on the importance of near boiler piping:
    http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/107/Steam-Heating/118/Steam-boiler-near-boiler-piping

    2. This is a link to Gerry Gill’s website which has a lot of great info on steam heating: 
    http://www.gwgillplumbingandheating.com/
    Gerry Gill is a very experienced Cleveland steam pro. Be sure to look at his steam installations for examples of great dropheader piping. Also be sure to look over the info on venting.

    3.Tekmar 279.  As you have a multiple unit building you might want to look into a Tekmar 279 for control.   http://tekmarcontrols.com/products/hvac-systems/279.html
    For more info look in the Promotional and Technical sections of the above link.
    - Rod




        
    This post was edited by an admin on April 7, 2013 5:40 PM.
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