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Joined on July 22, 2008

Last Post on September 4, 2014

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@ December 8, 2008 4:41 PM in Steam leak

I overfilled it once by accident, and, it did leak onto the floor. I assumed this was normal. Is it not? The house was inspected, in the summer, and, I will have to pull the report, but, I cannot recall what he said about the heating system or even if he was able to turn it on. I know this condition existed before we got the house cause the system would not turn on the first time I fired it because the water level was too low. I learned all of this in time. Do you think the inspector is liable for missing it?

@ December 8, 2008 3:55 PM in Steam leak

I bought a house last year with a steam heating system fueled by oil. Knowing NOTHING about the system I found that I was regularly feeding it water to prevent the low water cut off. Everything I learned I learned on my own and even the local oil heat company seemed to think that "feeding" the furnace water 5 times a day was "normal". Not until I realized that there is no way this could be normal is when I started finding that not only was it NOT normal, but, new water is very harmful to the boiler. Regardless, I have done research, but, I do see ALOT of steam venting out the chimney when running. Everything else heats up and is good, but, clearly leaving the house for a week or so would be impossible cause very little water, if any, returns to the boiler. There are no leaking pipes and no standing water of any kind. ALL the water is going out the chimney. My question is, where (and I mean WHERE) is the leak? Is it in the actual boiler? Is it a return pipe? Once again, there is no water anywhere on the ground. The way I see it, I turn the system on, feed the beast its water, and things get nice and warm and no water ever returns. Can I fix this?

DanH - let me know if you want help installing new forum system

@ December 5, 2008 1:13 AM in DanH - let me know if you want help installing new forum system

Dan H (and everyone else), As a huge fan of Dan's books, and as a real beneficiary of this forum, i just want to offer up my help if you decide at some point that you want to move to a better forum system. This old invision system is clearly a few generations behind the times and has some really painful deficiencies when it comes to searching, browsing, handling spam, etc. There are lots of options for ways to go to a newer system -- you can continue to use a hosted solution (like you do now, since this forum is on, or install some free forum software locally on Anyway, i just wanted to offer my help in setting it up as a way of giving back to the community, since this is something i have experience with. Maybe it's not something you are ready to do now, but if at some point you start to get inundated by spam or start to wish you had a better forum system, let me know.

@ December 5, 2008 1:00 AM in Steam coming back into boiler room

nicholas, just to clarify, the traps i worry about aren't 1 floor up, they are actually right at same level as the bottom of the boiler(!) any other suggestions from the experts about ways to detect failing-open traps or other ways to try to narrow down where the problem may be that's letting steam back into the return lines? with 83 radiators on 5 floors, and lots of pipes buried in walls and floors, it seems hard to identify the source of the problem. should i just accept the fact there there is going to be a constant flow of steam coming back in through the return line every time the boiler reaches operating pressure? i know that in an ideal world there would be no returning steam, but this is a case where we really don't have more money to spend and i have to figure out how much returning steam we can live with, and at what point i have to freak out and insist that the problem get solved.

@ December 5, 2008 1:00 AM in Steam coming back into boiler room

@ December 4, 2008 6:20 PM in Condensate tank - steel ok or must we get cast iron?

Thank you guys for your advice. Based on the advice we are now going to get cast iron instead of steel that we were originally going to end up with.

Condensate tank - steel ok or must we get cast iron?

@ December 3, 2008 11:59 PM in Condensate tank - steel ok or must we get cast iron?

so we are replacing a 10 gallon condensate pump/tank in our building. the old one was cast iron. the new one may be steel to save on costs and the weight of installing it. i know that steel won't last as long as cast iron.. but given the lifespan of these other parts and how they have failed us now, i'm thinking if the steel lasts 10-15 years that may be fine amount of time when we have to replace the whole aparatus again. BUT, other than overall lifespan, are there other reasons to prefer cast iron and make it worth the trouble and expense? will the steel rust sooner and send rust particles into the boiler? anything else i should consider? thanks in advance for the advice as always!

@ December 3, 2008 10:33 AM in Steam coming back into boiler room

Sorry i wasn't clear about steam coming back into boiler room. It's like this: The return lines coming back from the entire building are the sole way for water and air to leave the system. So the return lines all come down to the floor of the basement, where they feed into a condensate pump. Prior to the condensate pump is a big 8 ft pipe up where air can escape (in addition to an air vent in the condensate pump itself). You can see it here: from what i can read in Dan's books and elsewhere, this isn't all that unusual. there are no other air vents in the system. So in other words, the condensate return lines bring all water and air back into the boiler room. on initial startup, you can feel the cold air rushing out of this air vent line. then after a while while steam is building, nothing comes out. but then when the system hits 2 psi or so, steam comes pouring out of the air vent. as if it's blowing through the traps, or as if there are bad traps.

Steam coming back into boiler room

@ December 3, 2008 5:34 AM in Steam coming back into boiler room

Hi everyone, We just finished replacing every trap (about 85 of them) in our 5 story apartment building (including the F+Ts), with 2 pipe steam heat. A major motivation was very old traps and the fact that steam was returning to the boiler room suggesting failed traps. Well.. the work is all done and.. you guessed it.. a good stream of steam still returning to boiler room, as soon as the pressure rises to near 2psi. Enough to fog up all the windows in the boiler room. it seems to me that it's gotten worse recently. I've tried lowering the pressuretrol but as far as i can tell i'm at the low point and going lower seems to make it hard to heat the far away radiators. -- The question is.. is there something fixable here or should we just live with the steam returning when the boiler hits pressure. -- One wrinkle that has me paranoid since the timing is coincidental.. and i could use some talking down from. Trying to think how to explain this without taking 10,000 words.. Recently we had the condensate pump fail on the system and the HVAC connected the mud leg connection on the boiler to the returning condensate pipe (which was a good 30" below it); essentially turning a dry return into a wet return and creating a gravity system. well. to make a long story short, the experiment failed -- we basically pumped water into the boiler for 30 minutes and it seemed to dissapear to nowhere, as if the water was flowing OUT of the boiler into the condensate lines instead of the other way around. so after an hour or so we disconnected everything and went back to normal, manually operating the condensate pump. now, prior to this the boiler water was very dark and dirty and full of sediment. afterwards, to my surprise, the water in the tube to my surprise was now almost crystal clear. that's when i started to get this sick feeling in my stomach that all the built up sediment and crud in the bottom of the boiler had now just been blown back out and up and into the old condensate return pipes. ugh. so now i'm paranoid that we've basically filled all those ground floor traps with sediment, etc. please talk me down and tell me i'm wrong!

@ September 5, 2008 1:59 PM in Cast Iron Boiler life??

our 1956 arcoliner is on her 51st year and is as strong as ever, running 81% efficient (combustion). A few aquastats have been replaced and we're on our 2nd burner. she's loud as heck and burns oil like it was $0.30/gallon!
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