Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Uh Oh. Cracked?

Got a new steam boiler this season- a Smith "G" 8 Series five section with a Carlin EX burner gas gun. Aside from a less than smooth install, I'm happy with the results- the family's warm, and the gas bill is down. BUT-

The boiler is losing water. Not exactly sure when it started- the installer included an autofill but no counter, so I've turned it off- I'm in the boiler room almost every day, anyway. I'd say the last time I added water was a month ago, and according to the glass gauge, the water level has dropped a good 2". I have no idea how much water this translates to. The returns are not buried and there are no leaks that I can see. Then when I left for work this morning (it was still dark) I could see smoke billowing from the chimney.

Any advice on next steps?




  • possible leak?

    i'm not sure about the amount of water you are losing. did you say that in a month the level dropped 2 inches? with the auto-fill off, use clothes-pegs or bulldog clips to mark the water level on the sight-glass, and then you can see how quickly the level drops.

    if it seems to be a problem, then the only sure leak test is the over filling of the boiler to the header level [while only warm!!], and then looking for leaks on the floor, or inside the firebox. how distressing! if it is leaking, notify the manufacturer quickly, so that any warranty can kick in.--nbc
  • TomM
    TomM Posts: 233
    half a cup/day

    i'm not sure if the g8 gas fired series is the same as the 8 series oil fired boilers, but the 8 series 5 section oil fired boiler contains 14.9 gallons of water, and the water level is 25.625" from the bottom.  Therefore, if you are losing 2 inches of water per month, that is 1.16 gallons per month.  Divided by 30 days, that is .038 gallons per day, which is about .61 cups per day (according to convertworld.com).  or something like that.


    I know that Burnham and others recommend in the installation manuals to install all new radiator vents when you get a new boiler to avoid water loss and boiler deterioration.  Are your vents ok?

    beautiful Conshohocken PA
  • Patrick_North
    Patrick_North Member Posts: 249
    New vents

    Hi Tom,

    Yes, the "G" 8 is the same boiler- just outfitted with a gas gun.

    Thanks for doing the math for me- half a cup a day seems far less worrisome.

    I replaced all the rad vents shortly after the install- really just to address balancing issues. No problems with those, that I can see. However, I also added three Gorton #2's to supplement my main venting. I didn't notice any problems with them at the time, but given the rumblings about them on these boards I think I'll do a little snooping in that direction.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,689
    Clouds of steam

    on a cold morning, when you're worried about a boiler leaking, can be kind of worrisome, can't they?!  However -- particularly if the boiler had just started -- say within the last ten or 15 minutes -- I'd bet that what you were seeing was combustion condensation.  It's amazing how much water is formed from combustion, and it goes up the stack and on a cold morning it looks really painful -- until the stack gets warm enough so that it doesn't condense on the way up.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Patrick_North
    Patrick_North Member Posts: 249
    That's what I'm hoping!

    This boiler has a probe type LWCO, so I'm not blowing down and topping off every week, too- guess I have a new heightened (paranoid?!) awareness of potentially normal water loss!


  • Nick_C
    Nick_C Member Posts: 19
    Sounds Normal

    Sounds normal to me.  Remember that when you start the system, the steam pushes the air in the rads out of the system.  That air is relatively high in humidity.  When the system turns off, dry air from your house rushes into the rads and absorbs water, which then gets pushed out on the next cycle.  Even a system that has perfectly working vents loses water in this way.  For your system, a half a cup a day seems about right to me.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,262
    Does the boiler

    ever shut off on pressure? 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 797
    An autofill

    with a counter (i.e. a VXT), which can alert you to crypto leaks, is Highly Recommended.

    We've seen cases where a pin-hole leak in a radiator was not enough to manifest visible water, but was enough to cause noticeable water loss.  It doesn't take much.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • Patrick_North
    Patrick_North Member Posts: 249
    No, not that I can tell.

    It creeps up to about 6oz, and that's about it. Wonder if the CycleGaurd cutting things out every so often keeps it from topping out.

    Put some tape on my glass gauge so I can be more precise. Last I checked, I could see smoke/steam while the boiler was running, but it was a near white out! I'll check better tomorrow.

  • Roadking
    Roadking Member Posts: 7
    Chimney Plume

    I don't think you have a problem. You're not using very much water at all. If you had a crack I'd expect to see a lot more usage than 1 gallon a month. As for the plume from your chimney, remember, you're burning gas which has a very high moisture content, as Jamie noted earlier, (much higher than oil). Your new boiler is much more efficient than the old unit so it extracts much more heat from the combustion process resulting in much lower flue gas temperatures. This may be why you didn't notice it with the old boiler. If the temperature of the gas exiting your chimney cools below the dew point of the mixture, the moisture will condense forming a cloud or plume. On a cold day it's not uncommon to see chimney plumes from gas burning combustion processes.
  • Patrick_North
    Patrick_North Member Posts: 249
    Yes, yes, yes-

    The flue temp on my old boiler was astronomical- with my new steamer I can hold my hand on the flue for a good bit.

    Thanks for talking me off the ledge, everybody!

    (Now to keep a better watch on water consumption.)


This discussion has been closed.