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    Hole or Crack in my Steam Boiler? (25 Posts)

  • Russell Russell @ 12:45 PM
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    Cracked Steam Boiler?

    I've had some work on my burner recently ( trying to get the heat to 2 of my back rooms a little better )it's a one pipe system. The main vents were changed, the radiator vents were also changed on some and the radiators also they were pitched back to make sure that wasn't the problem, a new pressuretrol and low water cut-off were replaced. After all that it really hasn't made much difference.The house is 3 stories with the thermostat on the first floor. The only way I can get enough heat to those rooms is to do one of two things; put the thermostat to 73( now I have to keep it at 72 to keep it comfortable )or turn off the radiator on the first floor for awhile (which seems to work the best). The steam guy said I might have a crack or hole in the burner, there is no leaking water around the burner, he said it might be above the water line and look for steam coming out of the chimney. there is steam coming out but I've noticed steam also coming out of the 3 houses around me in the early morning.I don't know how old the burner is and I would like to figure this out before I just go and replace it. Anybody have any ideas? Thanks, Russell
  • Russell Russell @ 2:05 PM
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    Cracked Steam?

    Thanks Greg but I do the adjustable ones
  • Russell Russell @ 8:48 PM
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    Name

    Hello Al, Sorry about the name, I was in a hurry. Like I said I do have the adjustable vents; I'm just wondering about the info about having a crack or hole in the burner, ya know ;how to determine it?
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 10:08 PM
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    They replaced your main vents

    but did they size them correctly? Measure the length and diameter of each steam main and tell us what vent is on it. If the mains have old insulation, don't disturb it. Most of this stuff was 1-inch thick, and the pipe walls are 1/8-inch thick, so measure the outside diameter of the insulation and subtract 2-1/4 inches to get the pipe size. To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
    "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.
  • Russell Russell @ 2:21 PM
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    Length & Mains

    HI, OK the length to the mains is about 40' the diamter seems to be 2" the vents are Gorton Air elimanator #1
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 4:07 PM
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    Double the venting

    use two Gorton #1 vents on each of your mains. This will make the mains fill with steam much more quickly. To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
    "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.
  • Russell Russell @ 5:43 PM
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    venting

    There is a difference between Gorton Air Elimanator #1s and Gorton #1s ? are you also saying put two vents on each main for a total of four ? How do I do that ?
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 10:37 PM
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    The two names

    are used interchangeably to describe the same vent. Yes, you need a total of four vents- two at the end of each main. To install two vents on one riser, use a tee and an elbow like this. In this photo the vent piping was installed in a hole drilled and tapped into an elbow on the main, but it works the same way with a riser from a tee. To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
    "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.
  • Russell Russell @ 7:06 PM
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    two vents

    sounds like it might be a good idea, I'll find out what the cost might be but if it works I'm sure it will be well worth it
  • gerry gill gerry gill @ 10:16 PM
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    try

    flooding the boiler to the top..you'll know if you have a hole..
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.
  • Russell Russell @ 1:06 PM
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    Flooding

    I don't know if that's a good idea or not, maybe it might cause some kind of problem? is that the only way ya think?
  • Paul Mitchell Paul Mitchell @ 2:31 PM
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    How old

    is the boiler and was it replaced once.? Could have been undersized. If it is old and original...if you close off some vents do you get heat where you want it? if so then we know the pipes are clear. Maybe your psi is too high on the boiler and the vents are closing before you vent the proper amount of air. It should be fairly even if you adjust the vents on the rads right...Adjust by size of radiator not location. just my two cents
  • Russell Russell @ 6:05 PM
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    How Old ?

    I don't know how old it is, it's definitely not original, the house was built in 1878. I've been here 18 months and was told it might be 20 yrs old. Yeah if I turn the 1st fl radiators off I get the heat. I believe the psi is set at 1&1/2 Larger size larger opening?
  • Paul Mitchell Paul Mitchell @ 6:21 PM
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    I think it is

    > I don't know how old it is, it's definitely not
    > original, the house was built in 1878. I've been
    > here 18 months and was told it might be 20 yrs
    > old. Yeah if I turn the 1st fl radiators off I
    > get the heat. I believe the psi is set at
    > 1&1/2 Larger size larger opening?

  • Paul Mitchell Paul Mitchell @ 6:25 PM
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    I think it is

    possible that it has been undersized from the get go. And whoever lived there prior to you got used to it. Are the pipes in the basement insulated still? If not, insulate them it might help. If the pipes are not insulated it is like a big radiator in the basement.
  • Russell Russell @ 7:01 PM
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    There is

    Some insulation that needs to be replaced in a crawlspace under the living room floor which I plan to do. Thanks
  • Paul Mitchell Paul Mitchell @ 3:13 PM
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    I mean the

    steam pipes. All the steam mains should be insulatd. If that was removed when you bought the house or you removed it that is bad. Only hurts the system and can now make it undersized.
  • clammy clammy @ 3:23 PM
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    losing water

    If your losing water every 12 hours and have no buried wet returns or visable water leaks you could have a small crack above the water line as others have stated or you may have leaking push nipple on the boiler water passes .I have seen this on older dry base oil fired units .They lose water no signs of steam blowing up the chimmey (liner damage ,flue pipe whisle clean from steam vapor carring soot particles out ,flue passes have caluim build up ) Is this a gas or oil fired boiler ?Either way to really check hears a few things i would look for and explore .Flood the boiler up to the top of the crown and remove the boiler jacket ,gas train or burner to gain acess to the combustion chamber ,remove top or flue collector and just start looking ,if you look down the section on a pin type boiler and see that the passages are blocked with calium build then you know . If this is a older coal to oil or older oil fired unit and it's setting on a combusion base it could be a leaky push nipple and the water it loses just drain down into the cement .I have seen this very recently on 2 older units and they where both losing water and there where no buried returns and no signs of steam blowing up the chimmey crown did not leak only leaked when she was steaming and they did not heat the homes to well .Another thing on slow steaming has the water side of the boiler been cleaned without insulation on those pipes your proabaly bringing alot more crude and rust back to the boiler usually a good water side flush and brush to remove all the mud in some cases has produced excellent results .Good luck and peace clammy
  • Ted Robinson Ted Robinson @ 9:12 PM
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    Steam boiler leaks

    Repeating past posts on my older A-3 boiler oil boiler. Summer of 04 added sep gas hot water heater and shut down boiler. In the fall it was clogged with white deposits. I cleaned them and added a small amount of stop leak. Made it thru the heating season. SUmmer of 05 set aqua stat t0 100 degrees. In the fall the fire passages were clear. Repaired some leaking valves, and the water loss this year has been very slight, much less than before. I presume that the boiler only leaks when it goes room temp over the summer. some day one of the pro's can expect to be called for a boiler change out, but I am not rushing it!
  • Russell Russell @ 9:48 AM
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    losing or using?

    Clammy, What and where is the push nipple? it's an oiled fired burner. The water in the gauge is clear( cause it's always being replaced )Any ideas about no pressure?
  • clammy clammy @ 9:43 PM
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    push nipple

    In most boilers each section are connected with a slightly tappered nipple that is pressed and drown together by the pull rods way under the jacket of your boiler .Sometimes when every thing has been looked at and there no other signs of where the water is going and it's a old dry base oil fired boiler it may well be the water side push nipple .The last one i encourtered was losing water and going off on low water every couple of hours ,when we finally encouraged them to replace it, upon dis mantling the sections nothing was just fallen apart i had a lump hammer and good sized chisel properly placed and as we popped them apart on one middle section the push nipple just fell out .The bottom was as thin as a wafer after getting the base all the rest of the good stuff outta there ,we noticed a wet spot kinda water worn and quite warm that's where the water was going.That wet warm spot stayed that way for about 30 hours or so .So it only goes to show some times we look every where to fiqure out where all that water going right ?Well may be some times you should look right at your 70 to 90 year old boiler and just replace it ,of course only when every thing else checks out. Peace and good luck clammy good
  • Al Gregory Al Gregory @ 1:38 PM
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    use an adjustable radiator valves setting the ones that heat up faster to a lower setting and the ones that heat slower to a higher setting
  • Russell Russell @ 11:44 AM
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    cracked boiler?

    I posted a similar question last year and got a lot of helpful replies, thanks everyone. The point I'm at now is; (steam heat one pipe system)the boiler uses a lot of water, if I fill the water gauge up to the 6" mark it will drop 4" to the low water cutoff mark in 12hrs, I'm losing water somewhere and I doubt its through evaporation. I also don't get a pressure reading and the pressuretrol has been replaced. Are the 2 combined? loss of water? (crack above water line in boiler)= no pressure
  • Joshua Hosseinof Joshua Hosseinof @ 10:47 AM
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    cracked boiler

    I had a similar problem in my house a few years ago - I brought in my plumber, then a heating contractor, then finally someone I found through heatinghelp.com (Thanks Dan Holohan). It wasn't the boiler. There was a hole in one of the pipes going to one of the radiators - this particular radiator was in a bathroom over a crawl-space area and the hole was in the pipe right underneath the bathroom crawlspace. With the amount of water you are losing you would have seen water everywhere if it was leaking in some exposed area of the house. The way I finally realized it was the pipe in the crawlspace (which I didn't even know existed until then), was that the particular bathroom had always been cold and didn't get enough heat. But while the leak was going on this bathroom was now always warm and more importantly the floor was warm. The hole itself was a tiny pinhole, but that was enough to empty the boiler in less than 24 hours.
  • Russell Russell @ 4:13 PM
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    hole

    Josh, thanks for ths info.I have one pipe buried in a 12"interior brick wall that leads to the 2nd fl. the only reason I know this is the wall gets warm when the heat is on. If there were a leak I'm sure I would see some condesation or something( it's my third winter in this house) all the radiators get warm, it's a 3 story house. I'm going to have a plumber see if he can tell me if the boiler has a crack above the water line just so I can elimate that, remember I'm using water and the gauge shows no pressure, crack = lost water + no pressure ? Also I'm sure the boiler is 20+yrs old it should probably be replaced, the ones today are much more efficent.
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