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Advice needed badly about boiler installation issues

s. reja
s. reja Member Posts: 3
Hi guys,

I know there are a lot of hvac installers who participate on this forum who are reluctant to criticize other installers, but i need some real advice here.

We have a one year old peerless boiler which was installed in our building with basically no oversight (model 211A-08).

Since then I have been educating myself with Dan's books and other reading and have been examining all of the various aspects of the installation, and reading the installation manuals of the boiler and control parts.

So far I have found the following issues:
1) no skimming connection installed (contrary to boiler installation manual which says is must be installed)
2) no pigtail for pressuretrols (contrary to installation instructions honeywell 404f).

As far as i can tell so far the rest of the installation seems reasonable.

Now what i really desperately need is some advice about what would be reasonable to expect from the installer. The building paid about $25,000 for this boiler last year (we are in midwest illinois) and i don't think anyone was paying attention to it at the time.

I feel like the building dropped the ball in not educating itself at that time -- but i'm also upset at the installer that these things weren't done as they should have been.

So I ask you -- what would be reasonable to ask from the installer? Can we rightfully ask that they fix these problems? Or are they going to tell me: "ah don't take those books and manuals so seriously -- this stuff is all optional and wasn't required"? Are we just out of luck? Should we go pay a third party now to install these things? Or should we just try to pretend these problems don't exist and try to sleep well at night?

ps. the reason i am concerned about skimming connection is that we recently had valves and traps replaced on 83 radiators and some other miscelaneous work which brought new pipes into the system and the water level is bouncing a bit -- and my plan was to skim the boiler until i realized.. no skim connection.

Thank you very much for any thoughts -- I know i shouldn't let this stuff get to me but i'm afraid its gnawing away at me..


  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,690
    Give a call .........

    .....and ask for the pigtail. I am almost sure it wouldn't be a problem I am sure by now the boiler was skimmed. I for one do not leave easy access to a open steam port for safety concerns .maybe he skimmed and left a cap or replugged the tap?
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • sreja
    sreja Member Posts: 175

    The peerless manual is very clear about the skimming connection, how it should be a 2" connection in a big T coming out of the boiler into the riser. there are no other tappings anything like that on the boiler..

    manual is here:
  • sreja
    sreja Member Posts: 175

    I think part of my real problem here, and i suspect i'm not the only building/home owner who is in this position, is that we don't really know what is reasonable to expect.

    You guys in the business may have a good feel for if someone doesnt install something properly like a pigtail or skim connection, whether you can say to them: fix it buddy. or whether when they say "oh you don't need it and it will cost $1000 to retrofit" the proper answer is: "thank you sir who should i make the check out to".

    I know that these things *should* have been installed. What i don't know is that i can reasonably insist that they do at this point, and i could really use some guidance.

    I guess part of what factors in is whether we overpaid for this thing in the first place which i suspect we did since no one in the building seems to have paid much attention at the time ($25,000 for a peerless 211a-08 in illinois).

    I'm really hoping someone can give me some good guidance here before i get on the phone without the slightest conception of what i need to insist on. Help! (please!)
  • pigtail a la peerless

    the manual specifies no pigtail because their arrangement of piping has a natural water trap.i think they are wrong to have the mounting point so close to the waterline; that at the low pressures i set on the vaporstst, the raised up waterline for skimming can sometimes cut the burner out on pressure.
    i installed a pigtail recently because i am still skimming every month, until i see no disclorization in the top of the sight glass.
    the manual is clear about the need for a skimming port on which i have a ball valve[with handle removed and locked up] and a cap.i have extra 1" pipes to put the discharge into a floor drain.they also mention using washing soda for helping remove some of the oil.
    maybe you can find the old installation contract and see if the installer mentioned cleaning the boiler.at the very least he should put on the required tee and a ball valve to enable you to complete his unfinished business now, and anytime that repairs are made to the rest of the piping.
    nothing certain except death,taxes,and skimming.
    PS: go to the peerless website and find the name of the local peerless distributor through whom the boiler was bought.give them a call and ask them what would be customary in installation-follow the manual, or invent your own method.they are on the hook if an improper installation results in a boiler failure.ask them if they inspected the work when done and if not, why not?
    our local dist.[omaha,ne.] made such an inspection.
    price seems about the same as we paid for our 211a-1,050,000 btu--nbc
  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,040

    while skim ports & pigtails are real issues, proper gas line sizing, proper venting, back-flow prevention, proper clearances, and checking draft / combustion are far more important. Can you post a picture(s) of the boiler and header? By the way, we there is a long standing rule which does not permit discussion of prices here. You can ask to have someone email you direct if you need price help, but it is never advisable to talk about price after the fact...

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,690
    I am Sure they didn't take the first price.......

    ..... On a job this size. This building sounds like a co-op where management maintains the building and the tenants pay for the repairs. I would be cocerned if management is putting a few bucks in their pockets too.
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,040

    I gave a quote to a large condo association for a Tekmar 279 2 weeks back, and a condo owner called me and asked about the price, and said they were quoted $500 more than my quote...had to correct him and clarify my actual quote...I will make this a seperate post as it put me in the middle...

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • sreja
    sreja Member Posts: 175

    I'll take a bunch of pictures and post tonight.
    This is a condo -- there is no management company -- the condo board solicited two quotes to replace the broken boiler last year and then basically was completely hands off until the new boiler was up and running -- no one spoke to the installation company at all except when the job was finished. the installers tested it to make sure it ran ok and that was it. no one in the building paid the slightest attention to how it was installed or running, etc.

    It is only now that i've become involved and am supervising this new round of work upgrading all of the radiator valves/traps that i'm carefully going through the entire heating system looking for issues.

    I wish i had been involved at the time of the boiler replacement and so could have caught this stuff earlier -- so now i'm trying to figure out how to move forward with these deficiencies in the 1yr old boiler installation, and what the options are moving forward.

    Note that the new radiator work we are just finishing up on has been done by a different company than the company that installed the boiler. We aren't on bad terms with the boiler installation company -- we just went with a different company based on more careful solicitation of bids this time.
  • sreja
    sreja Member Posts: 175

    I've posted a bunch of pictures of the boiler and boiler room piping / condensate pump / venting here:

    in particular, here is an image of the pressuretrols without any pigtail and it also shows the elbow where peerless says the skimming connection should be:
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    Reluctant???? H ha ha

    Many say otherwise and that many of us are TOO harsh... lemme take a look. Mad Dog

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,092

    doesn't look like i want them installing a boiler for me i'll tell you that,do yourself a favor and check the btu rating of the boiler and what safety valve on the boiler is rated for while your at it check that low water cut off for i believe that it only rated for a boiler firing no more then 200 or 300 mbtu .I believe that there would be some cross tee's with plugs or caps for enable further water side cleanong in the future and least of all for that coin how about a secondary probe stlye manual low water cut off ,manualreset hi pressure limit and the proper rated and sized low water cut off for a boiler that size .Sorry to say i see steamers thrown in like that without the proper controls ,low water cut offs ,safety valves and piping espically on the return side of the boiler making it damn near impossible to do more then flush throughthe boiler and drain it .Also how about insulting the near boiler header and piping ,sorry about the rant but the pictures leave no choice peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    Try to get them back....

    If they don't respond, call in the Manufacturers rep to see the job. Have him give you a report of what was and wasn't done correctly. Then, send original installer a letter stating such and that you EXPECT it corrected asap. If that don't work, get a reputable and honest company in to correct it and chalk it up. Mad Dog

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
  • issues

    you definitely need to protect the pressuretrols with a pig-tail-the upper ones are completely open to steam.put them ALL ON THE SAME UPPER PIPE [supported by a pig-tail at each end underneath so they "feel" the same pressure.
    i see you have the "mod-u-pack" 3-stage burner setup so you definitely need a good low pressure gauge to make sure it is working.has the burner been set up properly with an analyser for all 3 stages of burn?
    maybe it doesn't make that much difference but shouldn't vertical pipes be vertical?
    if you are not getting dry steam at low pressure, you have headroom for a drop header which all the pros here advise; although i do not have one on mine.
    not trying to brag but i think my lower pipes are bigger than yours!--nbc
  • sreja
    sreja Member Posts: 175

    i have no idea whether the burner has been set up properly with an analyzer for the 3 stages of burn. and as for the good low-pressure gauge, how would i check that?
  • low pressure gauge

    gaugestore.com has several in the range of 0-5 psi divided in 10ths. or a 0-3 psi in ounces.the gauge must be on a pigtail to protect it from steam,or you could put it on a radiator in your section of the bldg just to see what the pressure is off the bat.most of these steam systems need less than 16 oz. earlier overpressurisation may have done your traps in.naturally in the end it should be mounted on the boiler on the same pipe as the pressuretrols[or change to vaporstats if pos.].
    also noticed that your auto-fill is piped directly into the boiler whereas my fresh water feed goes into the return to act as a thermal buffer.my system is entirely gravity [for cost and power issues] and now works quite well now that the water is pretty clean. maybe in the end you could turn off the auto-feed as it can hide various leaks and other problems.
    the ideal time to replace that el with a tee would be the same time as the pressuretrol bank is reworked as the auto-fill probably needs to be swung out of the way to give room to work and maybe permanently relocated.i assume that the vertical steam line will have to be cut in the middle, both ends unscrewed and either flnges welded on, or rethreaded for installation of a union. this will enable the tee to be installed.
    here's my priority list:
    1.replace el with tee and set up for skimming.pipe over to a floor drain.if only tempoarily for skimming.
    2.measure present pressure and reduce if necessary.
    3.remount pressuretrols and low pres gauge all on the same pipe protected by 1 or 2 pigtails.mounted high enough above the skimming waterline to prevent cutting the burner out on pressure from temporarily elevated waterline.
    4.verify the 3-stage burner is operating corectly keeping the pressure low without short-cycling[this option is a big plus!]
    all these things should have been done as a part of the initial install,and if not why not.why not call peerless tech support and ask them what would normally be done in order for the peerless warranty to be in effect.--nbc
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