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Joined on September 15, 2010

Last Post on July 15, 2014

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replace it

@ February 28, 2014 12:47 PM in Repair Main Vent

I lost a Hoffman 75 the same way, couldn't fix it so I replaced it.


Tape this above the keyboard

@ February 28, 2014 7:34 AM in Apologies and explanation


Was it well cleaned frst

@ February 27, 2014 7:09 AM in PEX SYSTEM

I had a new Smith boiler installed with a carlin power gas burner prior to the last heating season; I studied all the requirements before having the work done so I would know what to ask for.

Everything I've read emphasizes how important it it is to thoroughly clean both the chimney and boiler/furnace before installing a conversion burner. It is also important that everything be cleaned again after the first season. When was that conversion burner installed? Did they install a stainless steel liner and is this an interior or exterior chimney?

Were you able to confirm the rest of the flue is clear? Get that pipe repaired asap.


EDR should equal sq ft of steam

@ February 26, 2014 1:29 PM in Short Cycling

The boilers sq ft of steam should equal the EDR of the radiators if possible because that includes a 30% allowance for piping. If you add another allowance for piping you will be oversized.


looks suspect

@ February 26, 2014 11:08 AM in Need Help - New Gas Boiler for Steam System Problems

That boiler does not look like it is piped correctly, compare the piping you have with the diagram on the installation manual. Take the insulation off the pipes on the boiler header and take some pictures, it looks like they reduced pipe sizes on the header but it's hard to see with the insulation on the pipes. After the insulation is off take some pictures from further back so we can see the configuration of the piping better. Try to take pictures from a few different angles to help us see what is going on.

Did they ever skim the boiler after it was installed?
Is the water in the sight glass fluctuating a lot when making steam?
What pressure is the boiler running at when making steam?

A boiler should only need water added on a very occasional basis, have you seen any signs of a leak?

Where are you located, you really need to find someone that knows steam to look at that boiler and correct the problems. If the installer won't respond your better off to get it working right and then go after the installer to try and recover some of your money but that may not happen.

Is that foam insulation on the pipes?

The best thing you can do

@ February 25, 2014 10:26 AM in Sort of a random question (painting)

for a steam boiler is to make sure it gets piped correctly. It's not cheap but considering it can last 20 - 30 years you want to make sure it's done right.

The next thing is to find out why the old one failed and do what it takes to make sure that cause is fixed. If you don't correct the cause for failure, the new one will fail the same way but quicker because new boilers use thinner cast iron.

In my opinion painting a boiler block is a waste of time because they fail from the inside out. Put the effort into having it piped correctly and make sure you don't have any water quality issues.


Try this

@ February 22, 2014 8:21 PM in Thermostat calling for heat; boiler does not come on

Try pushing down on the box beam just below the pressure scale where I marked it, if the boiler comes on it means the pressuretrol is faulty. By pressing that beam down you should cause the switch to make.

ERROR - don't push down, try prying it up to force the pressure plunger down a bit

You could try taking the pressuretrol off the pigtail and make sure the base of the pressuretrol is clear and also make sure the pigtail is clear as well.


Not there

@ February 22, 2014 4:17 PM in loud banging after oil->gas conversion can't sleep

That is a flue damper that restricts air flow through the boiler when the boiler isn't firing. This old ilustration identifies the common location of a main air venton a single pipe steam system.



@ February 22, 2014 3:44 PM in loud banging after oil->gas conversion can't sleep

A main vents job is to expel all the air in the boiler and steam main so steam can fill the mains. It;'s important that this air be expelled quickly so steam will be available  to all the radiators at the same time.

Someplace along the main there should be a spot to mount a main vent. They are usually located towards the end of the main. Some look like a large version of a radiator vent and others look like a tuna can on edge.

I see what looks like a wet return running along the floor, if you follow that back to where it goes up and joins the steam main you may find a main vent in that general area. One usually finds a main vent towards the end of each steam main.


They can cause problems

@ February 22, 2014 12:38 PM in loud banging after oil->gas conversion can't sleep

Varivalves can cause more problems than they fix if they are not used carefully. The best practice is to vent the mains very fast and the radiators slowly. You might try adjusting the lever on the varivalves down to the low end. At some point you might be best off replacing them with Gortons, Hoffmans, or Maid o Mist vents. Don't use the cheapo's they sell at the big box stores.

What kind of vents are on your steam mains and were they replaced with the new boiler?


Not right

@ February 22, 2014 7:17 AM in loud banging after oil->gas conversion can't sleep

but it can be fixed. I agree with everything NBC has gone over, the piping is not optimal and should be configured like the layout in the manual. The equalizer line that comes down to the boiler return should be at least 1-1/4" pipe and it should drop straight down off the boiler header (which is misconfigured). It can angle over after it's dropped down and it would be best if that drop could be 1-1/2" pipe and then reduce and be angled (for a nice steady water line).

You are probably seeing a lot of movement in the gauge glass and it looks like there may still be some oil in the system. It will take several long slow skimming sessions to get that oil out of the boiler, the installer should have installed a full sized skim port and valve so that can be done. Skimming has to be done anytime a boiler is changed or any work is done to the piping, it has to be done very slow so the oils can float off a calm water surface, it should take a few hours to fill a 5 gallon bucket. You ope the skim valve fully and just trickle water into the boiler to slowly raise the water level to the skim port.

Make sure none of the steam mains were moved during the install, use a level to make sure the mains all have proper slope and that there are are no dips that MIGHT TRAP WATER. If steam comes across standing water it will collapse and that can cause the bang you hear.


It's not piped correctly

@ February 20, 2014 9:20 PM in A little advice on a new steam system please

But before tackling that, is this system running at 7 PSI? A steam system will run fine at 2 PSI or (hopefully) less.

Skimming can be done cold or hot but should be done VERY slowly, it should take a couple of hours to draw off a 5 gallon bucket and the water should never get up to a boil while skimming. The key is to draw water slowly off a calm water surface.

If there is no fitting on the main for a main vent you cal drill and tap to put one in. Ideally the vent should be after the last radiator runout and should be as high as possible.

Is this a counterflow system? If it is you may have to get creative because the end of the main might be pretty tight.



@ February 20, 2014 2:21 PM in Pictures of existing system that needs replacement

My iMac can't access those links.


Anything changed recently?

@ February 20, 2014 9:44 AM in 815 arco air eliminator eruption

Has anything been done recently that might have caused the piping to shift?

Also if your presuretrol were not sensing the pressure in the boiler because of a clogged pigtail your pressure might be higher than it should be. A system like that should be running at very low pressure, do you know what pressure it's running at and do you trust your pressure gauge?

Something has changed and you have to figure out what that might be.


Are you on Quabbin water?

@ February 19, 2014 8:02 PM in Last Rites?

if your town gets water from the Quabbin the quality of the water should not be an issue BUT if the town gets it's water from wells it could be a problem.

I don't see any glaring problems with your piping. Make sure you find someone who is really good on steam systems when you get the system fixed. It's not going to be cheap but it's important it be done correctly so it lasts for a long time.


Types of files

@ February 19, 2014 6:34 PM in Steam utilities (Excel)

you can only upload JPG and PDF files to the wall.


Why did it fail?

@ February 19, 2014 6:32 PM in Last Rites?

Before replacing the section or boiler try to find out why it failed so soon.

Has it been using water for  a long period of time? A steam boiler should use very little water, if you start having to add water more than once a month find out why, fresh water contains oxygen and that eats cast iron..

Was the old boiler near boiler piping correct? Incorrect near boiler piping can shorten a boilers life, post some pictures of what you have now so we can tell you if there is a problem with the way its piped.

Some areas of the country have high chlorides in the water (areas of eastern MA and RI for example), find out if the water in your area has high chlorides.

If you have any of these problems and fix it your new boiler should have a nice long life.


If you did not close the valve

@ February 18, 2014 10:04 PM in Trying to drain water too full

assume it is open, until proven wrong. the valve you show will lower the water level.

However there should also be a drain valve on the boiler itself. The one you found will work but see if you can find another. Breaking a valve is a PITA but it's important that all valves work; when the heating season is over do whatever has to be done to be sure all valves are operational.


Lower down

@ February 18, 2014 9:01 PM in Trying to drain water too full

on the boiler, where the system return is there is a valve with a hose fitting on it. First make sure both valves on the gauge glass are open  (full CCW) Put a pan or a bucket under that and open the valve. When the water level in the glass is right turn that valve back off and you should be ok.


If the system

@ February 18, 2014 7:42 PM in Pressuretrol setting

has a cycle guard on it the boiler will shut down every 10 to 20 minutes of run time depending on which model you have. That LWCO shuts the boiler down to check the water level with a calm water surface and it does so for 90 seconds. The most aggravating thing is it adds up the time and will shut the boiler down when the run time hits the setpoint, if the boiler ran for 19 minutes on the last run, it will shut down after 1 minute on the next call for heat.

makes no sense at all to me.


I am on my own?

@ February 18, 2014 12:55 PM in Steam boiler replacement quote

If you and your uncle decide to do this yourself you will have the support of a lot of people on this board, they will give you any information you need.

Post some pictures of the current boiler and the piping so we can tell you what we think. If you decide to let someone install it for you at least you will know what has to be fixed in addition to "connecting it up to the existing piping".



@ February 18, 2014 11:14 AM in Steam boiler replacement quote

i would ask the contractor why he wants to install a boiler of that size and I would also ask that he agree to follow the manufacturer's piping diagram for configuration and pipe sizes at a minimum. All steam carrying piping to be done in threaded steel pipe.

Additionally ask that he install proper venting on the mains and radiators. He should also inspect and correct any existing piping deficiencies after quoting the costs to do so.

A boiler will last a long time if it's installed correctly so it's important to have it done right.

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