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Joined on October 31, 2013

Last Post on February 21, 2014

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Soot Vac Trick...FTW

@ February 21, 2014 6:40 AM in changing a garber filter

Learned the soot vac trick over 25 yrs ago from a guy who understood physics...has saved my but a few times and saved a tech who called me a few years back for help. Found him lying on the floor with his finger in the hole where the bottom tank valve had snapped off...with a full tank of oil.
Plugged the vent, started the vac and was able to back out the broken stub and replace the valve....without any oil leakage.
Beware of a full tank..could end up with a vac full of oil....

Second chance?

@ February 21, 2014 6:32 AM in Oil furnace won't light!!

It takes a heck of alot of pushes of the button to soak that chamber. A 1.0 Gph nozzle at 45 sec a push..That is one persistent homeowner. If I'm worried about oil buildup to the point it might pop, I light a piece of paper and drop it in the chamber. You can control how fast it burns by how much air you allow in. If it gets too much with the view door open It'll try to pop out at you.
Sounds like the guy left something a little off, mby poor electrode spacing, too much air, or a weak transformer that couldn't take a change.
I'd bring the guy back out for a warranty call and give him a chance to prove himself.

Common issue

@ February 4, 2014 7:08 AM in What is it ,really?

Over the last 20+years i have found the most common cause of failure in honeywell aquastats to be poor solder connections at the rear of the board. Wherever a pin comes through the board, the solder connection tends to crack or pull loose. I carry a soldering iron and some supplies on my truck in case i dont have a replacement control so i can get the heat back on.

Still undersized?

@ December 8, 2013 6:43 PM in Clarification on steam boiler sizing

Based on the IBR of 396sqft EDR, and measuring the piping losses with a pickup factor of 18%, I come up with a need for 548 sqft EDR. This leaves me 152sqft shy, and undersized of almost 30%, unless I'm missing something....
I'll take some more pictures so I can get them up fo viewing.

Ah, Clarification Achieved...

@ December 8, 2013 9:59 AM in Clarification on steam boiler sizing

Now it becomes clear.
This system has 344 sq ft of radiation(9 Standing Radiators)
X 240BTU= 82,560 BTUH

The Mains and Runouts (Uninsulated, in cold basement)
2" =52sqft EDR X 240 = 12,480 BTUH
1 1/4 Runouts = 69 sqft EDR X 240 = 16,560 BTUH
Total Piping Loss= 29040 BTUH or 121 sqft EDR

Total Load= 465 sqft EDR = 111,600 BTUH
PickUp Factor (.34) 158 sqft EDR = 37,944 BTUH

Total 623 sqft EDR = 149,544 BTUH

BTW Single pipe parallel flow upfeed system, single 2" main, 1 1/4 return off the end of the main.

Existing boiler ratings (New replacement 2 yrs ago, Immediate issues since)
Boiler Model MST396SL-HB
Firing Rate 1.05GPH
DOE Capacity-127 MBH
NET IBR- Steam 396 SQFT
So my assumption is that by taking the net rating of 127000BTUH and dividing by 240BTU/SQFT EDR, the boiler is rated at 529 sqft EDR, including pickup factor.(Since removing the .34 factor, gives me the 396 sqft EDR NET IBR rating.

So, without pickup factor, the boiler rating at 396 EDR is undersized for the load of 465 EDR.
With the pickup factor, the boiler rating of 529 EDR is undersized for the load of 623 sqft EDR.

Even if the piping is insulated, it wont remove the piping losses, just decrease it.
I don't see it lowering the load below the max rating of the boiler. This boiler seems like it was undersized for even the best case scenario.
We've been working on venting, re pitching wandering up&down returns, but with the heavy condensate load, the undersizing etc, I don't know if that last radiator will ever get hot, or this system will ever behave.
Last night, a no heat call bc I has dialed down the press from 5 psi to .5/2.0 and behold, boiler shut down and held at 2psi bc the condenstae backed up and held it off.

My new favorite quote!

@ December 8, 2013 8:50 AM in Probably a question you are asked alot..

NBC, That's going on the wall of my shop.
"The system worked well in the beginning, Your job is to fix what changed."
That summarizes where to start, what to touch and what to leave alone.
Start where others have meddled and not with the original design.
Thanks for the Quote!

Test to be sure

@ December 8, 2013 8:39 AM in Puzzler: Condensate Return Leak, LWCO, Auto Feeder

Test the return.
Any time I suspect a return leak, i perform the following test:
Cut the return loose on each side of the point were it disappears into the floor (Yes, I know, it's a pain bc it's iron piping, so you may have to need to add a cpl of unions and replace back to the next fitting, if you don't have a threader)
Try to do it at roughly the same height on each side.
Fill the return with water and monitor it for bit and see if the water level goes down.
This will confirm a leak beyond any doubt.


@ December 8, 2013 8:18 AM in steam boiler water issue

Also make sure the valves are open at the top and bottom of the sight glass, otherwise the only water in the boiler could be the sight glass....
Depending on the model feeder you have, there could be a time delay before filling starts, or a valve could be off feeding it.

Id start by cleaning the probe

@ December 8, 2013 8:14 AM in steam boiler water issue

If the unit is shutting down before it fires, theres no change in water level.Id bet that that LWCO probe is mucked up. Pull and check the probe and clean it. Sounds like youre getting intermittent contact through the probe, especially if theres actually plenty of water in the boiler.
If youre knowledgeable, you might jump uot the LWCO to see if it stays on. Dont leave it jumped out, not even while you run to get a new one. It could cost you a boiler.

Clarification on steam boiler sizing

@ December 7, 2013 9:52 AM in Clarification on steam boiler sizing

In sizing a steam boiler, I have calculated the EDR of all the radiators.This particular house has 58ft of 2" uninsulated main, which they dont want insulated for fear of freezing in the basement. The connected load also includes 110 ft of 1 1/4 runouts.
Should the load calculation include these piping losses, even before addition of any pickup factor?
The pickup factor in my understanding is to allow for the heating of the total load from a cold start, but this extra load is a continual load, no different than additional radiators or bare pipe used for space heating.
Where can I find equvalent EDR of 2"&1 1/4" bare iron pipe to add in the calculation.
I own all of the steam books available thru heatinghelp and cant find that particular info.
But let me take a minute to point out the quality of the books on the site. Some of the best refernce material for steam heat available. Worth every penny.

Acting like an underfired boiler.

@ December 6, 2013 10:36 PM in Pressuretrol setting

Check the rating on the conversion burner. It sounds like alot of the symptoms of an underfired boiler.

first glance

@ December 1, 2013 10:54 AM in need help with one pipe steam system,, rookie!

Looking at the installation, it looks just like a hydronic installation minus the exp tank and circulator. This looks to me like his first crack at a steam boiler installation.
This job jumps out as a guy that was in over his head. It needs to be uninstalled and reinstalled correctly. The laws of steam heating arent based on opinions, but on the unyeilding laws of physics. You cant reason with them, there's no debate. They must be followed.
Hopefully it'll come out in the long run, but if he fixes it, it'll still be his first steam boiler and youre paying to teach him. If a pro does it, youre paying twice for the same job.
Either way you'll be coming out under water.
Damn shame...