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Boiler using too much water

I have a one pipe steam heating system It is a Utica boiler which is less than ten years old. I convented it to gas from oil when I bought the house in March of 2008.

The boiler has an automatic water feed on it. When the boiler runs the auto feed always comes on. If I fill the boiler I can see no leaks in the unit itself. I can't see any obvious steam leaks but the problem is one pipe runs under my dining room which is built on a rock ledge so there is no basement and not even a crawl space. There is a space where the pipe goes in and I can't see in that area.

I have 2 radiators that won't heat and I have replaced the steam valves. One is a 3/4" vent on the top of the radiator and the other is a regular 1/8" valve on the side of the radiator.

I also have a radiator on the second floor that only heats when the heat is on for a long time.

I notices that when the boiler is running the pressure gauge by the boiler does not move. I don't know if the valve is bad or if that is contributing to my problem but I thought I would mention it.

I'm sort of assuming there is a leak in the area that I can't see but if that is the case what should I do?




  • pipe between a rock and a hard place

    first, verify whether you are losing water, by verifying your waterline at 1/2 glass, and then turning off the auto-fill. then closely monitor the waterline over the next few days. i presume you check your LWCO, and that it will cut off the burner, before the waterline goes too low. this will tell you if you have a permanent loss of water, rather than slow-returning condensate.

    if you have a permanent water loss, then while the boiler is only warm, overfill it to the header, and look for leaks underneath, from a section hole. as your boiler has only lived 1/3 of its life, i would suspect the underfloor pipe.

    while you are diagnosing, why not put a good low-pressure gauge [, 0-3 psi], in addition to the original gauge, so you know what your pressure really is. before making the test, you can also look at your chimney for steam escaping, while the boiler is firing. if there is a leak, then something must have contributed to that which should be also corrected. sometims, well water can contain high levels of certain chemicals which shorten the life of the sections, or salt for a water-softener may be stored too close.

    make sure your main vents are operating. more advice can be had from "the lost art of steam heating" available here.--nbc
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