Joined on September 15, 2010
Last Post on December 6, 2013
@ December 6, 2010 2:25 PM in CORRODED BLOCKShawn,
A boiler should last a lot longer than that. My current Burnham V75 is 14 years old and the Delco before that was 50 years old.
If the corrosion is "only' in one section, that one section could be replaced, but the labor would still be pretty high and there is always the danger of something happening during the dis-assembly - reassembly process.. I suspect the other sections are about ready to let go and you might only be delaying the inevitable. i don't think it would have made any difference if the boiler was gas fired. Switch fuel only if it makes good economic sense. In Boston the current differential is about 28%, If my boiler died tomorrow, I'd probably switch to gas. If you stay with oil look at the Burnham Megasteam boiler.
The real question is why did this boiler die a premature death. Were there any issues with the boiler over the last few years? Do you know how much water the automatic water feeder was feeding? If you have a new boiler installed ask them to put a automatic water feeder in that has a meter on it so you can keep track of how much water it is adding to the boiler - AND KEEP A LOG OF THE WATER USE. Water should only be added once or twice a month. If it's being added more often then you have a leak somewhere.
Check with your neighbors to see if they have had similar problems.
@ December 6, 2010 9:52 AM in One Rad coldTeflon tape or pipe dope, if you use pipe dope don't go crazy with it or you might be skimming the boiler to clean out anything that gets into the boilers water. Also one nice aspect of either one is it will enable you to get the pipes apart in future years without a lot of cursing.
@ December 6, 2010 8:37 AM in Steam newbie questionsYou can use pipe dope or teflon tape, you have to use one or the other (some use both) on that big nut to make it a steam tight connection AND make it possible to separate the joint in a decade or two without to much cursing. Just make sure the pipe/valve line up squarely with the radiator and put a light coat of pipe dope on the mating sufaces of the valve and radiator to ensure a tight seal.
@ December 6, 2010 8:28 AM in New Steam Boiler IssuesGod only knows when that insulation was installed. A vent would be located near the end of a main or just before the return heads down to the boilers return. If these areas are insulated look for any signs of fittings or couplings (bulge in the insulation) because people have been known to replace a vent with a solid plug because they didn't think vents were necessary - we call these people knuckleheads.
If your system is a counterflow then the vents will be near the ends of each main, can you see the whole main? In a counterflow system the mains all slope back towards the boiler, a parallel flow system the mains start up high above the boiler and slope down towards the return pipe which is at the end of the main. If the main goes into an area you can't easily access I'll bet the vents are in there someplace.
That system is not going to work right without main vents. If it really doesnt have main vents they have to be added.
@ December 5, 2010 6:41 PM in Corrosion in Boiler?Some areas of RI and MA have high levels of chlorides (salt) in the water and this causes the boiler to corrode like no tomorrow. MWRA water is usually ok but if the water is coming from a well it could be suspect. If the water dept doesn't know what the chloride level is have it some of your tap water tested by a lab to see what you have.
@ December 5, 2010 6:29 PM in Condensate does not fully return from the Peerless WV/WBV systemThat does not look like a Hoffman 75 but it does look pretty beat up, is it working?
The piping in the return area looks pretty corroded you could have issues there. You say your adding water every day, that is not good. I suspect if it were a blocked return you would have water stacked up in the piping and the system would be making some pretty unpleasant noise by now.
You may have a hole in the boiler above the water line, check the chimney when it's actively making steam and see if there is a lot of white smoke coming out. If you don't see any white smoke, try flooding the boiler when it's cold or just warm. To flood the boiler add water till its to the top of the boiler. Give it 15-20 minutes and see if a leak shows up beneath the boiler. If no leak becomes apparent then drain off the excess water and fire the boiler to get rid of any dissolved oxygen.
@ December 5, 2010 6:19 PM in new steam oil fired boiler problem deperate please helpJoe,
Your new boiler should be operating at or below 2PSI, check the pressuretrol and see if the outside tab is set to 0.5 and then take off the cover to see if the white dial is set to 1 (one).
What kind of thermostat do you have? For steam it should be set to 1 or 2 cycles per hour. As Jamie said you don't want a deep setback on a steam system.
Your main venting may not be adequate, what kind of main vent do you have? How long is the main and what size pipe?
Has the new boiler been skimmed yet? A new boiler is usually skimmed a couple of days after being installed to remove any impurities in the water. Does the water in the sight glass bounce up and down a lot when it's making steam? that indicates it might need to be skimmed.
Post some pictures of the boiler, the near boiler piping (front and back) and the main with the main vent.
@ December 4, 2010 6:56 PM in Noisy/Uneven system needs help!That near boiler piping is not right, no header or equalizer. Take some more pictures of the piping and get far enough back so we can see what the layout is like. The pressuretrol should be set ay 0.5 on the outside and the inside dial should be set at 1.
Is this a single pipe steam system? How long is the main and what size pipe is it? We have to know the volume of the header from the boiler output around to that vent's location, then we will know what size vent you should have.
That elbow should be removed and replaced with a short nipple and a new elbow, a longer pipe (15" at least should be screwed into the elbow so it goes back along that pipe. Then another elbow and a short nipple that you can screw the new vent on. make sure that new pipe has a little slope so the condensate can flow back to the boiler. You will have to see how much room you have available to see how long those short nipples should be.
Is the water you get when blowing down the LWCO filthy? If it does not run pretty clean after draining a gallon or so you may have to drain the boiler and refill it a couple of times to get the crud out. take some pictures of the boiler drain and any skimming port you might have on it. That cap on the low pipe would be one option for draining but there should be something else with a valve on it down low.
@ December 3, 2010 5:29 PM in Steam newbie questionsYour 25 ft 2-1/2" main has about 1.5 cu ft of air in it and a gorton #1 is good for about 0.5 cu ft per minute. It really should be a Gorton #2 on that long main while the #1 is probably a bit shy on the 15 ft main (about 1 cu ft). If you did replace the vent on the long main you could put the #1 onto the sort main with the existing one using an antler.
However if that 2-1/2" is the outside diameter of the pipe then it is a 2" pipe (2.38" OD) so in that case 25 ft of 2" main has 0.94 cu ft and the Gorton #1 is probably ok on that long main for now. More would be nice but that is not your main problem.
With the near boiler configured as you said you are making wet steam which is not good for efficiency. That configuration causes water to be drawn up into the header and possibly the mains as well. What pressure are you running at, it should be under 2 PSI.
Post some pics so we can see what your dealing with.
Do you know how long it takes things to get up to temperature from a cold start? The attached file shows how my system is working (still a work in progress), see if your system numbers are anything like this. Also note how long, after the steam main is hot, it takes for the radiators to get hot and which radiators take the longest. Also what size are the radiators and what vents are on them?
@ December 3, 2010 4:53 PM in One Rad cold2-3/8" OD is a 2" ID pipe.
What I need is approximately how many feet of what size pipe is between that main vent and the steam output of the boiler (top of the boiler to that main vent). (any pipes that go to upper floors will be vented by that radiator vent. The length numbers only have to be approximate, 10-20% accuracy is fine. This does not include any of the radiator feed pipes.
Once we have this information we will know the volume of air we are dealing with and can determine what capacity vent you need.
As far as the radiators venting goes you have to know what size radiator and about how many feet of pipe feed it. In my system the 1st floor rads are fed by 1-1/4" pipe while the second floors are fed by 1-1/2" pipe, yours may be different. With the information on each radiator/feed pipe we can guestimate the venting requirement needed for each radiator
@ December 3, 2010 11:47 AM in One Rad coldThat main vent looks much to small. As an examble if your main was a 2" pipe (ID) and 30 ft long it would contain 1.13 cu ft of air. If the pipe is larger or longer it would contain more air. All that air has to be expelled before all the radiators get steam. To vent that 30 ft 2" main I would use a Gorton #2 which is larger than you need be cheaper than having to use two smaller vents. Insufficient venting causes you to burn more fuel every time the boiler runs.
The fact you got plenty of steam by removing the vent on that radiator tells be your venting is not balanced. Steam will follow the path of least resistance and the hole you probably have in the boiler makes things a little crazy not to mention driving your heating bill through the roof. Your mains have to be vented first so steam is available to all of your radiators, then each radiator has to be vented according to it's internal volume and that of the pipe that feeds that one radiator. Usually you want bigger vents on big radiators and smaller vents on smaller radiators. Adjustable vents make it a bet easier because you don't have to buy different sized vents, you just dial the amount of venting yo need for that particular radiator. Good vents are not cheap but they last a long time.
Your main vent has to be replaced, don't start messing with radiator venting till that is done. Make a list of the size of your radiators (# of columns, # of sections, and height) and what model vent each one has.
@ December 3, 2010 11:13 AM in Need help understanding my system... Loonnggg post...One of your pictures shows two vents where the returns turn down to the boiler return. that has worked for some 80 years but todays boilers build steam a lot faster than the old coal boilers so venting is more important. Figure out the volume of the piping feeding those returns and put enough venting capacity on them to allow the air to completely vent in a few minutes.
Looking at your diagram it looks like you have some long runs so the venting has to be increased by a substantial amount. You may need more venting but I would start with a Gorton #2 vent on each return and see how it goes. Are those vents screwed into a 3/4" fitting? You present vents are probably 0,1 to 0.2 cfm, the Gorton #2 is 1.75cfm (@2 oz); you can always add more venting later if you have to.
@ December 2, 2010 4:03 PM in One Rad coldIf you don't have water vapor coming out of the chimney and assuming the boiler was up to steam when you were watching, you can test for holes above the water line by flooding the boiler.
With the boiler warm or cold, open the feed and put in enough water to get a few inches above the sight glass and see if any leaks show up. One way to tell if you are high enough with the water is to put a short hose on the boiler drain and hold that hose up so it is about the same level as the top of the boiler case and fill it till the hose overflows (boiler drain open at this point). Your using the hose as a water level to see what the level is inside the boiler.
Give it 10-20 minutes to see if anything comes dribbling out from the boiler itself. If nothing comes out you may have a leak into the combustion chamber rather than to the outside of the boiler but that should have shown up as white smoke in the chimney..
After doing the test drain enough water off to get the sight glass level correct and you should be set to run.
@ December 1, 2010 2:23 PM in Hot basement, no heat upstairss -That boiler should be able to heat the house without much worry and it should do it economically once the piping is straightened out. If the house has any insulation whatsoever the 2% difference is negligible.
It's a shame it wasn't sized with the family room included, a hot water takeoff with baseboard would have been a lot cheaper to run.
All the piping in the basement should be insulated with a minimum of 1" pipe insulation.
After the piping is redone make sure the boiler gets flushed and skimmed after running a couple of days.
As to the LWCO location I can't really see why the T couln't be rotated to eliminate the elbow and get it to the correct height. Since your going to have people repiping I'd just add that to the list of things to do.
@ December 1, 2010 12:56 PM in Balancing Steam Systems .pdfthe Ventrite (#35 or #77?) probably has an external 3/4" male and an internal 1/2" female thread. If you have a 3/4" pipe it probably has a 3/4" coupling on it, remove that fitting and replace it with a 3/4 to 1/2" reducing coupling and you should be all set.
This is a brass reducer but a black iron would work fine -
@ December 1, 2010 8:01 AM in Main ventsYou could drill and tap into the main to mount a vent and that could be tough if your too close to the ceiling, the hole has to be at the top of the pipe. If you do drill and tap start small and go up in drill size incrementally til you get the right size hole. that way you will end up with a round hole
@ December 1, 2010 7:55 AM in Gorton D valveis the pressuretrol set as low as it can go (0.5 on front and 1 on inside dial)?
Does your pressure gauge read anything (a 0-30 should be way down in the mud 1--1/2 PSI or so)? Adding an auxiliary 0-3PSI would let you know exactly what is going on.
If the pressure cut in is 3PSI or more the air valves cannot close, they need less than 3PSI or less to work.
Try taking a couple of vents off and boiling them in vinegar for half an hour, that should remove any calcium deposits. Keep the system off till you get them put back.
@ November 30, 2010 10:27 PM in New Steam Boiler IssuesPete,
If the water in the sight glass has debris in it the boiler should be skimmed or perhaps flushed and then skimmed; this can take the better part of a day. Dirty boiler water (especially if it has oil in it) causes the water to bounce around a lot. Was the boiler skimmed after the installation?
The main vents are probably at or near the end of your mains. They have to allow the air in the pipes to escape so the steam can fill the mains. Let us know how long thoses mains are and what kinds of vents you find so we can tell you what kind of vents should be on the mains. the new boiler makes steam a lot faster than the old one did so venting is more critical. The vents on the end of the radiators allow the air in the radiators and the piping feeding them to escape. In both cases, when the vent senses the steam they snap shut.
That middle pipe should be sloped as indicated in the marked up drawing. When was this boiler installed?
@ November 30, 2010 8:56 PM in leaking boiler?If no water appears below the boiler the leak is probably above the water line and perhaps into the combustion chamber. When you have steam pressure do you see a lot of white smoke coming from the chimney? You might be able to find the leak by flooding the boiler when it is cool, then look for the leak.
Boiler sections can be replaced but I don't know how expensive it is and don't know what the chances of success might be because of it's age and condition. others here are familiar with that procedure and I'm sure they will chime in.
@ November 29, 2010 8:44 PM in New Steam Boiler IssuesThe header connects to both steam supply outlets on the boiler and then to the old steam main, from there it goes down to the equalizer pipe. One of your earlier pictures shows the equalizer pipe and how it goes into the Hartford loop; from what I see it looks fine..
I would have come a bit higher with the header but it is probably fine. Did your installer come back to skim the boiler a couple of days after installing it? If your seeing a lot of bouncing up and down in the sight glass the boiler water could be dirty.
Is there just the one steam main that I see in the picture? Also i don't see any main vents, see if you can find them. Modern boilers make steam a lot faster than the old coal boilers did so venting is more of an issue. Give us an idea of how long that main is so we can calculate what kind of venting you should have on it. Also does that main steam line slope back towards the boiler? If it does that is a counter flow system and the main vent may be at the other end of that main. If you find it let us know what make and model it is (Hoffaman 4a or 75, VentRite 35, Gorton #1 or #2 are all common ones).
The fact the pressure gauge shows nothing is pretty normal. If you take the cover off that pressuretrol you will see a white dial that sb set to 1; that means the cutout would be 1.5PSI and the cut in (on the front of the pressuretrol) is 0.5PSI. On the stock 0-30 PSI gauge this is way down in the mud. You would need an auxiliary low pressure gauge to really see what is going on.
@ November 29, 2010 7:46 PM in New Steam Boiler IssuesPete,
We need to see how that piping connects above the boiler, try standing further back and take the shot from a couple of angles so we can see whats going on. Also take a couple of shots of the equalizer and hartford loop. Your boiler has the steam takeoffs on the sides but the piping should still be configured similar to the diagram I enclsed on my last post.
Is the water jumping around in the sight glass? What does the pressure gauge read? can you find the main air vent and tell if it's working.
@ November 29, 2010 2:37 PM in No pressureif the gauge is bouncing it it is probably seeing the boiler pressure. If you want to be sure you could remove the 0-3PSI and blow into that open pipe, you should get a little resistance but you would know if it were plugged. the pigtail should be tight but don't go crazy, you don't want to bust off the pigtail, as long as you use teflon tape or pipe dope you should be fine. The gauge should be vertical as it is in my photo.
You may just be operating at very low pressure, especially on a mild day. You could try boosting the thermostat 4-5 degrees to make the boiler run for a while.