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Here's the situation (and I'm a novice, btw).
Medium sized residential steam boiler in a 3 story, 5 unit condo complex. The boiler heats intermittently, unevenly, and seems to be flooding on a regular basis.
There is a condensate return tank with a boiler feed pump. Into the condensate tank run the condensate return line and an automatic water replacement feed from city water. The automatic feed does not have a pump, as far as I can tell, but has several valves, the last being a reducing valve.
The overflow vent from the condensate tank regularly dumps a lot of water on the water. Not just a bit of overflow, but many gallons. One of the contractors I've had look at said the whole system shouldn't every return more than about 10 gallons.. However, he took 35-40 gallons out one day.
It takes several gallons to run clean.
Here is the confusing part..one day I observed the following. Following tenant complaints, I went over one day to reset the thermostat to 1-2 degrees higher. The boiler was not fired up, but the feed pump was running continuously (for the 15-20 minutes I was there-at least sounded like it was running). I made a note of it but didn't really understand what I was hearing/seeing. BTW, the condensate return tank during this whole period was about 1/3 full.
Fast forward 6 hours and a tenant tells me the pump still sounds like it is running. The boiler hasn't fired in about 12 hours.
Fast forward to the next day. I go back, the pump STILL seems to be running. Boiler still has not fired at all. Not really knowing what I am doing, I flip the power off to the feed pump. It shuts off. I turn the power back on. The pump does not restart, but the condensate return tank fills QUICKLY with water and overflows several gallons on the floor before I hear the pump again. The boiler then fires amazingly and starts to heat the building.
The floor is eroded in the exact pattern that the water overflowed to. This pattern, or something similar, seems to be happening regularly. To contractors (perhaps knuckleheads) have no idea what is happening. I described this incident to one of them, he thinks I imagined it. He said it was not possible.
I need some HELP...PLEEEAAAASSSEEE!!!
Does this make sense to anyone?
As an aside, all the steam traps in the building have been replaced. The trap on the condensate return line has been replaced. One of the "pros" said the system probably needed to be vented. This I cannot speak to, however the original system was steam heat and the building was built in 1911.
Thanks in advance!!