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Steam system losing water.. a new question for an age old problem
In the last few years, with the fantastic help of Dan's books and the experts on this forum, I have gone through several major updates of the steam heating system in our 5 floor , 25000 sqft apartment building (build in 1929).
We have replaced every trap on every radiator (200+radiators), installed TRVs on every one.. skimmed the boiler, cleaned it, etc. and now have a tekmar 279 controller which makes a huge difference in terms smart heating cycle times.
It's an oversized Peerless 211A-8, but has modulating gas system so it can fire at different rates depending on pressure. It run at between 1 and 2 psi.
The returns feed to a condensate tank and pump (and so return line is open to the air).
Now, the bottom line is that it heats the building wonderfully and it runs like a dream.
Except that a couple of weeks ago we cleaned out the boiler and tuned up everything, and I decided to replace the automatic water feeder with a VXT24 programmable water feeder that can measure how much water is being fed in.
What I'm seeing is an average los of up to 6 or 7 gallons PER DAY from the system, with weather in the 30s (seems to be worse when its colder and boiler running longer).
Needless to say I am losing sleep over this water loss in what otherwise seems to be a perfectly running system.
The steam guy and myself spend a couple of hours looking for any sign we could anywhere of where the water loss could be going. I check chimney, flooded boiler looking for leaks, traced every return line i could see. NOTHING.
We cannot figure out where the water is going.
Now there are probably 100-200 ft of buried return lines under the lobby floor, which is thick concrete with no access. these pipes do eventually emerge into the boiler room in a large pipe chase, with no signs of water. and the pipes all look to be in good shape.
So now finally to my question.. Should i just let this issue go and stop losing sleep over it? I mean *if* the problem was a leaking return buried in the concrete 200sqft tiled lobby floor somewhere, it would seem prohibitively expensive and insane to try to tear it up to get at it. And there is no sign of the water, or any problems caused by it.
I hate to think of 7 (or is it going to jump to 15 when the weather hits 0 degrees?) gallons of lost water per day, and the oxygen effecting the boiler.
BUT i can't get a handle on how bad that really is for the system and for efficiency of it..
I mean is it a disaster to be replacing 5-10 gallons of fresh water a day into the boiler.. or is this something thats going to mainly just mean the boiler will die a year or two earlier than it would otherwise -- in which case economically it's probably better to just live with that then go chasing ghosts and tearing up floors.
I always seem to come to these questions on this forum.. i know what the IDEAL looks like (0 water loss), but it's so hard to figure out what is ACCEPTABLE, or cost effective..
Thank you in advance -- looking forward to reading your replies.!